Football: Bavarian Goss finish still shines brightly

Trevor Haylett discovers that life has changed for a man who once tamed Bayern

THREE DAYS from now Jeremy Goss will turn on the European Cup final, cherish the memories it will evoke and resist the urge to wonder again what might have been. His attention will quickly turn from Bayern Munich, past and present, towards his tiny twin boys, and in that moment he knows he must be thankful that things turned out as they did.

Goss has recently come through a harrowing ordeal that would prove a humbling experience for any new father, let alone one of the privileged breed of professional footballers who mostly know only good times. The best time for Goss came six years ago when his goalscoring feats helped Norwich overcome Munich and turn European logic on its head. How Yorke or Beckham would love to replicate his goals in Barcelona.

The 1993 Uefa Cup tie contained the essential element of sporting romance, setting the majesty of Munich - thrice-crowned European kings - against the ambitious East Anglians who were making their first foray into continental territory. The wide-eyed Canaries were nobody's makeweights, however, and Munich would pay heavily for underestimating them.

"Ever since the draw, [the Norwich manager] Mike Walker had kept drumming into us the fact that we could go there and get a result," recalled Goss. "There's no doubt Bayern assumed it would be easy. They expected a typically British approach, but our passing game was perfectly suited to the challenge of Europe."

The midfielder's big moment arrived early in the Olympic Stadium. "A long pass was played up to Chris Sutton and while the ball was in the air I was already making my forward run. Lothar Matthaus's clearance came to me outside the area. I did not have to break stride and it was one of those volleys that you can't feel leave the boot, the contact was that sweet."

Before long Mark Bowen had headed them into a two-goal lead and an incredible scenario was taking shape. The Germans reduced the deficit, though Norwich (the only British team to have conquered Bayern Munich on their own ground) took a one-goal lead back to Carrow Road. There, after the visitors' immediate strike, it fell again to that man Goss to bring the scores level on the night and begin the celebration.

The fairy-tale continued as the fourth-round draw paired them with Internazionale, but clouds were gathering. Two creditable performances met their match in Dennis Bergkamp's separate winning goals and within six weeks Walker had been tempted away to Everton while Chris Sutton and Ruel Fox would shortly join a long list of big-money departures. "It was a great shame because if the club had only paid the players and the manager what they deserved I know we could have remained a top 10 Premiership side," Goss added.

Relegation two seasons on from Munich was the cue for the Welsh international to seek new pastures. He knows now he should have accepted Charlton's offer; instead he chose Hearts and the Scottish League, but the move was not a success. He returned home last summer, his status as a one-time European hero no longer valid currency. The search for a new beginning sent him training with Colchester and Gillingham but when, in October, his wife Margaret gave birth to identical twins, Joseph and Jacob, three months premature, football had to be forgotten.

"Within two hours of birth their weight had gone down to 2lb and it was touch and go. We lived in the hospital for six weeks and it was an emotional time when we took them home for the first time a few days before Christmas. Now they look like any normal seven-month old babies and for that we are very grateful."

Towards the end of last season Goss made a handful of appearances for King's Lynn in the Dr Martens League. This weekend he is starting a coaching course at Lilleshall but wants to continue playing. Just turned 34, he has always been blessed with remarkable running power and believes he can still offer much more than a wonderful memory of a spectacular Bavarian night.

Jeremy Clarkson
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