Soccer

Celebrate the 15th anniversary of Zinedine Zidane's perfect Champions League-winning volley for Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane may now be leading Real Madrid in a different capacity as manager, but 15 years ago today, he was on the pitch and shooting them to their ninth Champions League title.

In 2002, Madrid were firm favorites for the UCL trophy, coming up against a young Bayer Leverkusen side led by an up-and-coming Michael Ballack. Real went up early in the match thanks to an eighth-minute Raul goal, and it looked like the floodgates might just open.

Surprisingly enough, their lead only lasted for five minutes before Brazilian defender Lucio equalized in the 13th, setting it all up perfectly for Zidane to make history.

Just before half, he did exactly that.

Rightbefore the halftime whistle, Santiago Solari sprung Roberto Carlos down the left, and the rocket-powered Brazilian fullback lobbed a hopeful ball into the box. It worked out better than he ever could've hoped, and the ball fell directly to Zizou at the edge of the area.

The rest is history.

Tracking the ball out of the air, Zidane nearly imperceptibly shifts his body to catch it properly, executing theperfect side volley, and on his weaker left foot, no less. It's technically brilliant, breathtaking, and Zidane makes the whole thing look like a training ground exercise.

The goal assured the win for Madrid, and it pushed Zidane even further into footballing lore. Was it the greatest Champions League goal of all time?

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