How real is eternity

Column - A trick for the ages: How Real's number 6 levered the Manchester United defense

A trick for the ages: How Real's number 6 leveraged Manchester United's defense

"As a boy I tried often, but it mostly failed": Our columnist Pedro Lenz on the story of a memorable goal by Argentinian Fernando Redondo at Old Trafford.

A few days ago, Real Madrid fans celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Fernando Redondo's magic trick at Old Trafford. Real Madrid played against Manchester United, last year's Champions League winner, on April 19, 2000. It was about making it to the semi-finals. The two teams split 0-0 in Madrid. Real now led 0-2 in Manchester. The English were forced to put more pressure on.

It was the 53rd minute when the Madrilene Savio brought the ball out of his own danger zone. In midfield, Savio matched Redondo. The Argentine, who rarely looked forward, galloped with the ball on the left towards the baseline. Manchester defender Henning Berg was very close to him, so nothing could happen from a Manchester perspective.

But then Redondo amazed his opponent and the whole football world with a schoolyard trick. With his heel he played the ball backwards in the direction of the six-yard area, quickly changing direction and while he was running towards the orphaned ball, he raised his head to see where his teammate was sprinting into the gap. Then he fitted the leather into Ra├║l's feet with millimeter precision just before Jaap Stam rushed towards him, who only had to use the net.

The move was so beautiful and dynamic that it will forever have a place of honor in Real Madrid's collective memory. Even the fans of the defeated team honored Redondo with a standing ovation. When asked if he had ever used this trick, Redondo replied at the time that it was a move that he had often tried as a boy in the schoolyard with the tennis ball, but which mostly failed.

The fact that he thought of this unleashing trick from childhood in the quarter-finals of a Champions League and surrounded by at least three world-class defenders says a lot about Redondo, who usually used his technical expertise in unspectacular defensive actions. Redondo was a classic number 6 with the ability to vary the rhythm of the game at will. If football has seen a similarly spectacular number 6 since Redondo resigned, it is most likely Denis Zakaria from Geneva from Borussia M├Ânchengladbach.