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Published: 25 MAY 2004 Basic instinct how a few seconds can change lives!
by Red Kelly

Posted by Red Kelly on Tue May 25 @ 17:55:21 GMT

Tomorrow will be exactly five years after that unforgettable night in
Barcelona and it got me thinking.

It doesn't take a genius to know that a game can become legendary for a mere
few seconds of action. And that night in the Nou Camp was legendary for just
that - a mere few seconds. But probably fewer seconds than you may imagine
- 58 of them to be exact. That's how long the ball was in play during those
crucial moments. That was all the time it took to break the hearts of every
Bayern supporter and every ABU - and, as we know, that's a lot of hearts!

It's not that the rest of the game wasn't significant in any way, just that
the really meaningful part happened right at the end - in fact when it was
supposed to be all over.

>From where I was, stood behind the goal, the 90 agonising minutes went by
faster than for any other game I can remember. In fact we were into the
three minutes of added time, before everything changed. Bayern were lording
it, but not for long. We were desperate for something extraordinary to
happen, when it did. As Matthaus sat smugly on the touchline thinking about
how good he would look holding up the big jug, United went and snatched it
from his grasp.

During the few minutes before the smash and grab I had begun to wonder.
Bayern hit the post and the bar. They came so close that their confidence
soared way out past the stratosphere and came back to haunt them. They
should have known better. Time was fast ticking away and they were a goal to
the good - yes - but they were playing Manchester United. And there had been
one or two notable last minute come-backs that season - ask the Scousers for

I looked up to the night sky for a sign because I had a weird feeling that
it wasn't over. We couldn't have come so far and achieved so much and then
lose as ignominiously as that could we? And, to top it all - it was Sir
Matt's birthday. I knew it was totally illogical that we were 1-0 down, the
45 minutes were up, and the Germans always win. But those wearing Manchester
United red were mindful of the fact that a few seconds can change lives and
football matches - it had become basic instinct.

How do we react to a potentially life-changing moment when it happens in a
split second? Invariably by making an instinctive decision. The instinct is
usually based on knowledge and experience, but it is non the less, instinct.
And it's just the same with football. It's whether you recognise the
possibilities and then how you deal with them that counts. And this often
happens when there is no real time to think. You have no other choice than
to act instinctively. I have denied my instinct on the odd occasion and have
always regretted doing so. I am sure footballers would say the same.

So, the stadium clock was stuck on 45 minutes - the game was up when the
ball went out for a throw in down by the corner. A large United supporting
Hungarian caught it, held it aloft and muttered something unintelligible to
the masses then kissed the ball before giving it back. Giggs rushed over and
took it off him mindful of the precious seconds ticking away. The ball
eventually went out for a corner which Beckham took. The Cup was already
being carried down draped in Bayern's colours as Schmeichel forsook his
goal-minding duties and instinctively headed for their box. There could be
no doubt that he caused problems as he went for the ball which finally made
it's way to Giggs from a poor clearance. Giggs scuffed a shot goalwards, but
there was no way it was ever going to beat Khan until Sheringham
instinctively stuck out his leg and swept it into the corner. Pandemonium!

On the touchline, Steve McClaren immediately wanted to revert to 4-4-2 from
the 4-3-3 all-out attack. The Wizard argued. He understood. By this time
Manchester United was etched into his soul, and he knew what we all knew by
then - that we were going to win. There was no doubt in any of our minds.
'Hang on a second' he said, 'something's going on here.' McClaren didn't get
his way, and in any case there just wasn't time! Almost from the kick-off
United were right down Bayern's throats going straight for the jugular.

45 seconds of the 3 added minutes remained when Beckham stepped up to take
the second corner. Bayern were stunned. They just couldn't believe it. The
ball left his foot and we held our collective breaths. Sheringham helped it
on it's way to Solskjaer who extended another instinctive leg and my head
exploded with the noise I was making. 58 seconds of play and basic instinct
won us the greatest prize in club football and gave us the most momentous
time of our football lives. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Copyright 2004 Red Kelly & Red11.org. All rights reserved.
Not to be reproduced without permission of the authour.

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