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Some footballers go down in history as a one-season wonder, others as a one-game wonder.
Indeed, sometimes the star period begins and ends like an instant – as much as scoring a goal and being happy about it. Of course, if the goal is worth it, it will be enough to remember you forever.
In November 1999, midfielder Mauro Bressan was named in Fiorentina’s squad for the Champions League group stage match against Barcelona.
The Italian is a playmaking midfielder who doesn’t usually shine with anything, and there’s no way to predict that he would score one of the greatest goals in the history of European football. His career began at Milan, but he did not record a single game for the giants’ first team and then became a nomad, traveling around modest teams such as Como, Cagliari, Perugia and Bari.
He makes a decent impression at Bari with his ability to hold up and distribute the ball, and is helped by the presence of plenty of talent around him in the likes of Gianluca Zambrotta, Nicola Ventola and Antonio Cassano.
Two years later, Bressan was bought by Fiorentina and, at 28, was in the prime of his life. Then is his best chance to shine at a high level in Giovanni Trapattoni’s side, where stars Rui Costa and Gabriel Omar Batistuta play a leading role.
The midfielder does not become a main player, but gives width to the squad, which won a place in the Champions League with the third position in Serie “A” last season.
When Fiorentina take on Artemio Franki’s Barca, the team have already secured qualification for the second group stage after a 1-0 success over Arsenal at Wembley thanks to a Batistuta goal. The match is also irrelevant for the Catalans, who beat Fiorentina 4:2 at Camp Nou and won first place in the group.
However, the match is particularly important for Mauro Bressan, who wants to prove that he is worthy of a more serious role in the team.
The likes of Luis Figo, Pep Guardiola, Patrick Kluivert and Rivaldo made an impression in Barcelona’s ranks, but the star of the night turned out to be Bressan.
Fate smiled on the Italian, who rarely scores goals, and sent the ball to him after a bizarre series of clumsy plays by those around him.
The ball bounces in an extremely comfortable way and he is not fazed by the fact that he is a long distance from the goal. With all the confidence in the world, Bressan jumps for a back scissor and realizes with a fantastic parabola from about 25 meters.
The crossbar also helps him to make the goal even more beautiful.
🔥 Best bicycle kick in history?
🤯 Mauro Bressan #OTD in 1999! #UCL | @ACFFiorentinaEN pic.twitter.com/1jhtfCjSWf
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 2, 2020
The laws of physics seem to be defied by this performance, and the stunned goalkeeper Francesc Arnaud only manages to enter the goal with the ball.
The 25,000 at Artemio Franki’s can’t believe what they’ve just witnessed and scream loudly as the goalscorer himself looks as happy as he is surprised as he receives congratulations from his teammates.
The goal is amazing not only because of the technique of the shot, the parabola of the ball and the distance to the goal, but also because it was not scored by a burnt goalscorer, but by a player who scores once or twice a season.
“It must have seemed crazy at the time, but I wanted to try a shot like that because I had tested it several times in practice without much success,” Bressan later said.
“It was a question of how I was going to aim the ball and luckily it worked. As I got to my feet I immediately started screaming.”
Subsequently, Fiorentina failed to keep control of the game and Barcelona turned it around even before the break with goals from Figo and Rivaldo.
However, Mauro Bressan continued to enjoy his greatest night and recorded a spectacular assist with a back-heel for Balbo to make it 2-2.
Abel Balbo added another goal for Fiorentina and Rivaldo volleyed in to end the match at an attractive 3-3.
That clash remains a fine advertisement for the Champions League more than 20 years later, but for Mauro Bressan it was more than just a good moment. This is the only time the midfielder has played a full match in the tournament, as Trapattoni then brought him back to the bench and Fiorentina crashed out in the second group stage.
To this day, Bressan is questioned and reminded of his goal, which has more than once been placed among the competition’s greatest moments. ITV had even put it in second place for beauty in the eternal ranking after that of Zinedine Zidane in the final Real Madrid – Bayer Leverkusen (2002).
With Mauro Bressan’s big moment gone, he was forced to settle for a reserve role during his two-year stay at Fiorentina. But still, his “Artemio Franki” period reached a kind of happy ending, because there the player won the only trophy of his career.
The midfielder’s contribution to the 2001 Coppa Italia win was significant as he scored against Milan in the semi-finals and then assisted Paolo Vanoli for a key goal in the first leg final against Parma.
Subsequently, his career did not develop brilliantly and Mauro remained a nomad with short stays in Venice, Genoa and back in Como.
He ended up having a brief adventure in Switzerland with Lugano and Chiasso before hanging up at the age of 38.
Well, if the story had ended there, Bressan would surely be remembered with much more affection as a true cult hero in his homeland.
But in 2011 he was among 16 arrested on suspicion of match-fixing in Italy’s lower divisions.
Others charged were former Lazio captain Giuseppe Signori and former international Cristiano Doni.
The arrests were the culmination of a six-month police investigation that uncovered “significant and compelling” evidence that those arrested were part of a whole criminal organization to manipulate results.
In 2012, Mauro Bressan was banned from football for three and a half years.
Of course, the shame of such a thing remains for life.
But the name of this football player is also a symbol of something else – the specific magic of football with its brief and unexpected moments of brilliance, turning it into such a fascinating and unpredictable spectacle.
In the world of football, few moments are as iconic as the moment when a player scores a goal that will be remembered for years to come. Such was the case for former Juventus and Italy footballer, Antonio Conte, who scored what is widely regarded as one of the greatest goals in the Champions League.
The goal came in the 1997 Champions League quarter-final between Juventus and Real Madrid. With the score at 1-1, Conte received the ball on the edge of the box, and with a single touch, he unleashed a thunderous strike that flew into the top corner of the net, sending the Juventus Stadium into raptures.
The goal was later voted by fans as the greatest ever scored in the Champions League, and it remains a highlight of Conte’s career.
Unfortunately, it was not long after this moment of glory that Conte’s career took a dramatic turn. In 2006, he was implicated in a match-fixing scandal and was subsequently banned from football for five years.
The scandal sent shockwaves through the football world and Conte’s reputation was severely damaged. He was seen as a cheat, and his name was forever linked with the match-fixing scandal.
Despite the scandal, Conte is still remembered for his incredible goal against Real Madrid. It is a moment that has been immortalised in football history and will be remembered for years to come.
Conte’s story is a reminder of how quickly fortunes can change in football. While he was able to achieve greatness on the pitch, his legacy was tarnished by a scandal that he was ultimately unable to escape.
It is a cautionary tale of how even the greatest of players can be brought down by their own mistakes. It is also a reminder that while a single moment of brilliance can define a career, a single mistake can undo it all.