Tim Key: ‘I captained my school football team in 1992 so I’m no stranger to the big stage’


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The Independent Online

This week I scored such a beautiful goal at football, I really need to lay it down in print. It was as sweet as a plum; a dipping volley right off my laces that left the goalkeeper helpless – confused and gaping, like a teenaged giraffe coming face to face with a mirror for the first time. It was sublime. People need to be told about it.

Apart from the money, the main benefit of taking a column in The Independent Magazine is that they let you write about what you want. For example, I could write about elderberry-picking; I could write about how there’s more social media these days, or comment on phenomena like the Harlem Shake or GIFs. As long as I’m not unacceptably fascist and don’t include diagrams about stuff you can make to terrorise people with, the girl who hired me doesn’t really mind. Freedom. So this week, let’s talk about this goal I scored.

We won a throw-in right in our opponent’s half, and I became interested. I’d grown bored of patrolling our defences, and now, like a cow, I plodded forward. Huge doubts hang over my fitness levels these days (I eat too many rolls and bits of cheese) but, if I plan ahead, it’s still possible for me to migrate and catch the back end of an attack. I have nice big thighs that I can ride to the front on. In that respect I’m like Wayne Rooney, though my passing range and attitude are more like Michael Carrick’s. Also, I have Jan Molby’s shape, the front half of Lionel Messi’s haircut, and I share a birthday with Joey Barton. At about 4.20pm I arrived in attack and yelled at Leonard B to chuck me the ball.

In terms of context, it doesn’t matter where this goal was scored. Whether it was in a mid-level five-a-side tournament, or in a league two fixture involving Bristol Rovers, or at a doctor’s birthday barbecue, is irrelevant. The important thing is how good my goal was. Having said that, this was no mere kickabout, don’t worry about that. A lot of the players wore trainers, not all of them wore jeans, and we had a ref.

Or more accurately, the lad whose barbecue it was had a whistle. Anyway, the point being, a great goal is a great goal, and as  the ball drifted through the air towards my ample chest, a great goal was precisely what I had in mind.

I captained my school football team in 1992, and scored a penalty for the company I was working for in 2006, so I’m no stranger to the big stage. These days I am in my mid-thirties though. I wheeze when I do exercise or put my headband on.

And as the ball floated into my hemisphere I was racked with self-doubt. I hadn’t really struck a ball cleanly this century and I’d just eaten a minted lamb leg steak. My eyes were full of sweat and my feet were heavy with Kronenberg. Plenty could go wrong.

I cushioned the flat football on my bust and, as it dropped, a bare- footed man tried to put me off by  waving his burger above his head  and yelling the ‘c’ word at me. But I  was in my bubble. I pulled back my Gazelle, stuck my tongue out for concentration and fired the ball like an arrow. The girl in goal did her best of course, she stopped chatting and  tried to move to her right, but her heel plugged in the grass and the ball shot past her and inside the four-pack of Strongbow that served as her goalpost. GOAL! I almost exploded with joy! I ran to her and gestured at her and loudly proclaimed that it was “too easy” into her face. I was elated!

I overdid the celebrations and felt my back go a bit so I had to drop out and they had to rejig the teams. And then I gingerly made my way to a tree, leant against it, and ate a barbecued banana with chocolate buttons in it. It was overripe and undercooked but it didn’t matter. I’d just scored the type of goal people will talk about for weeks – so my banana tasted magnificent. I closed my eyes and chewed the fruit and replayed my goal again and again. Perfection.