Who scored the greatest bicycle kick of all time? You’d have to say Barcelona’s Rivaldo bicycle kick versus Valencia is right up there. Rivaldo’s game winning bicycle kick that put Barcelona into the Champions League and completed his hat-trick is perhaps the best ever goal scored in any football game. The importance of this goal, all three of his goals, is just incredible, at stake was a place in the Champions League and all the money that goes with it for the club, TV deals and so on.
Like many before him, Rivaldo found in football a game he loved and a hope for salvation. Born into stark poverty, the hardship of his childhood almost ruined Rivaldo’s dream. As a child he lost teeth decayed by malnutrition, and his poor diet left him dangerously thin, bow-legged and muscularly underdeveloped for his height. But Rivaldo grew up to be one of the best soccer players in the world. His time at Barcelona was his crowning achievement – and this bicycle kick says it all. As is the case with most soccer greats Rivaldo makes the game look so easy. Even this bicycle kick or overhead goal.
“Few footballers since Diego Maradona have had the fusion of bronca and brilliance that can make for a one-man team: Steven Gerrard occasionally, Cristiano Ronaldo maybe, Rivaldo certainly. At times around the turn of the century he was impossible to play against, and never more so than here. The quality of the goals was outstanding, but the context made his performance legendary. On the last day of a dire season Barcelona needed a win to qualify for the Champions League, against Valencia, who needed a draw. That it had come to this for a club like Barça was an almighty affront to Rivaldo’s pride, so he put things right with an almost vigilante single-mindedness.
His first goal was an unsaveable free-kick that swerved and dipped late before flying in off the post. Then, after Ruben Baraja had equalised, Rivaldo hit a low 25-yarder with such fury that it knocked him off his feet and brought the Nou Camp crowd to theirs. Baraja equalised again but then, with 90 seconds to go, came the crowning glory: a staggering overhead kick from the edge of the box. After just 18 months and 17 days, the book on the greatest hat-trick of the 21st century was already closed.” Rob Smyth in the Guardian
I saw this game at the Camp Nou, really my first time seeing a high level soccer game in Europe. My first time seeing Barcelona play. Just amazing and lucky to see such an incredible game.
Rivaldo was like Messi for Barcelona then. Here’s what I wrote about it. What stands out is the passion of the crowd. They were so demanding. Expected so much from their football/soccer team. Sometimes when they went silent the intensity was even higher than when they were yelling or whistling at certain players. You could feel the crowd watching every moment of the match.
The entire match between Valencia and Barcelona from the 2000-2001 La Liga season is now online:
NEW: Ronaldo & Rivaldo & Messi: 3 gorgeous goals against Valencia. Still though, Rivaldo’s bicycle kick tops them all.