By Chris Wright
Now splitting his time between the Revista sofa and corporate DJ sets, there was a time when Gaizka Mendieta was the most sought-after player in world football.
That time came shortly after the 1999 Copa Del Rey final, when the Valencia maestro put a fitting cap on a career-high season by scoring a pearler in a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Atletico Madrid…
The best bit? Richard Swarbrick has done a version too…
As for Mendieta, following several exemplary seasons with Valencia he duly became the sixth most expensive player of all time (€48 million) when he moved to Lazio in 2001 – though cruel hindsight has shown that it was never going to be the right move for the prodigiously gifted playmaker.
After failing to continue Pavel Nedved’s fine work in the Italian capital, Mendieta was hounded as a finance-cripplingly expensive dud and loaned to Barca – playing regularly in a whimpering side that eventually finished sixth in La Liga, leading many to pontificate that a move to the Camp Nou would perhaps have been the better option when he originally chose to leave Spain for Rome the summer previous.
He then moved to Middlesbrough (where he still has a house to this day), initially on loan from Lazio but eventually on a permanent basis, and showed English audiences glimpses of his former artisan glories in disappointingly brief spurts before being carted off to the knacker’s yard midway through 2007.
What could’ve been, eh?
More random great goals on Pies…
Patrick M’Boma (Gamba Osaka) vs Shonan Bellmare
Lothar Matthaus (Bayern Munich) vs Bayer Leverkusen
Ian Wright (Arsenal) vs Swindon
Roberto Cabanas (New York Cosmos) vs Tulsa Roughnecks
Steve Bull (England) vs Czechoslovakia
Thierry Henry (Arsenal) vs SC Wiez
Muzzy Izzet (Leicester) vs Grimsby
Darren Barnard (Barnsley) vs Huddersfield
Juan Roman Riquelme (Boca Juniors) vs Corinthians
Hugo Almeida (Porto) vs Inter Milan
Paulo Wanchope (Costa Rica) vs Uruguay
Youssef Safri (Norwich) vs Newcastle
Paul Lambert (Celtic) vs Rangers
Ilie Dumitrescu (Romania) vs Argentina
Rivaldo And Friends (Olympiakos) vs PAOK
Jon Harley (Fulham) vs Aston Villa
Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus) vs Fiorentina
Justin Fashanu (Norwich) vs Liverpool
Mousa Dembele (AZ Alkmaar) vs Willem II
Dimitar Berbatov (Leverkusen) vs Roma