ON THIS DAY IN FOOTBALL... 10 MAY
Nayim - from the halfway line (1995)
Real Zaragoza have never won the Spanish league, but in the so-called knockout tournaments they have done exceptionally well. They've lifted the Copa de Rey five times, they won the old Inter-State Fairs Cup but most memorably, they were crowned champions of the now-defunct European Cup Winners' Cup - the most distinguished piece of silverware in their trophy cabinet. Traditionally, Zaragoza have never produced powerful, consistent sides but every few years they have managed to elaborate joyful, artistic attacking teams who are capable of beating anyone when they put their minds to it. Such sides included Zaragoza's 'Five Magnificents' (Los Cinco Magníficos), the famous 'Zaraguayos' team (with reference to the sleek, gossamer-like skills of Paraguayan pair, Saturnino Arrúa and Carlos Diarte), Leo Beenhakker's Maños' side which featured the likes of [Juan] Barbas, [Juan] Señor, [Jorge] Valdano and [Raúl Vicente] Amarilla, amongst others, and the side put together by Víctor Fernández, the great local coach who worked wonders for his hometown club. That legacy allowed Zaragoza to gain the right to play the 1994-1995 European Cup Winners' Cup, for having won the Copa against Celta the previous season.
Just one thought flashed through Nayim's mind when he received that ball - back home in Ceuta, when he was just starting out, he scored two goals by launching the ball high into the air, giving it a bit of spin with the outside of his boot; in that fleeting second those images somehow came back to him. To this is day it stands as probably if not the finest goal, certainly the most audacious, ever to have been scored in a European final.
Ceuta-born Nayim had developed his skills in Barça's youth academy, one of the best football schools around. His goal gave Seaman repeated nightmares, "Never a day goes by without someone asking me to recount that goal", he said. But Arsenal's London rivals lapped it up, Tottenham in particular - who changed the lyrics of a popular Arsenal chant to wind up their neighbours. "Nayim, from the halfway line", to the tune of Village People's disco smash 'Go West' would ring out from the terraces, without fail, every time the Gunners were in town. Nayim's wonder goal has even been immortalized on a T-shirt - not that any of us could ever forget it...