Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the Miracle of Amsterdam — Lucas Moura’s 95th minute winner on the road at Ajax that put Tottenham Hotspur into the Champions League final. It’s prompted everything from oral histories of the game on The Athletic, to untold fan where-were-you-when retrospectives when that Lucas goal hit the back of the net.
Here’s mine, as told on Twitter.
It was at this point that I literally fell off a bar stool at Buffalo Wild Wings celebrating. https://t.co/F2GTJmjvma— Dustin George-Miller (@dustingm) May 8, 2020
I was one of just three people in that crappy big-box restaurant bar where I had to beg the bartender to switch one of the 15 big-screen TVs off of Pardon the Interruption to this crazy soccer match featuring two European teams that obviously nobody but me cared about. The only other person remotely interested in the match was this Hispanic dude with his girlfriend who saw my reaction to the win, came over, helped me up and said, “Dude, that was amazing!”
It sure was.
I’m not sure if that moment the zenith of my sports fandom. It certainly was pretty close, but there are a couple of contenders from the past decade, and I’m not even going to mention the second leg against Manchester City in the quarterfinals.
Revisiting that moment yesterday — Tottenham streamed the match “live” and tweeted it again as it happened one year later — was especially poignant for me in part because sports are something that we have as a society pushed to the side as we deal with something much greater and more important: a global pandemic.
Just for fun, I’m going to list those other moments that rank with the Miracle of Amsterdam in my personal sports Mount Olympus. Ironically, neither of them involve my team actually winning a trophy or title. That’s okay. Sports aren’t always about winning titles — it’s about moments of glory that stick with you for years. I’ll always remember where I was in all of these examples.
If it moves you, go to the comments. What are the other sports moments that were as important to you? Did Lucas’ goal top it? Where do they rank?
Sports are good, y’all. It took a pandemic and a year’s worth of disappointment, combined with yesterday’s highlights, to help me remember it.
USA vs. Algeria, 2010 World Cup
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa saw the United States drawn into a tough Group C along with England, Slovenia, and Algeria. It wasn’t quite the Group of Death — that honor was shared by Group D (Germany, Ghana, Australia, Serbia) and Group G (Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, North Korea). But it was definitely a challenge. After two come-from-behind draws against England and Slovenia, USA faced Algeria with both teams needing a win in order to secure advancement. Throughout a nervy goalless match that saw Clint Dempsey score only to have it controversially called back for offside, and then later hit the crossbar, USA had one final chance to grab a win as the match headed to extra time. Keeper Tim Howard saved an Algerian header on target, dished the ball to Landon Donovan...
And this happened.
I don’t watch a lot of football in the pub but I was there for this one, and the place went bananas. I yelled myself hoarse. I had beer spilled on me. I hugged strangers. Sure, it was just a group stage game — no big deal for fans of most of the best world football nations. But as an American football fan in 2010 at a time when the sport wasn’t anywhere close to as popular as it is now, it meant everything to watch that goal go in with like-minded fans.
Kentucky vs. Indiana, Dec. 20, 2011
OK, some context is important here. The first is that I was and continue to be a huge Indiana basketball fan — I was, you could say, born into it and it is the only other team that rivals my Tottenham fandom. The 2011-12 season was then-coach Tom Crean’s third in Bloomington, and despite his best efforts he was still trying to salvage the wreckage of the program after the disastrous Kelvin Sampson era. Indiana had, however, possibly its biggest freshman signing since the Bob Knight era in Cody Zeller, and had Victor Oladipo on that squad as a sophomore. That team clicked early and started 9-0 for the first time in 22 years, but when arch-rivals Kentucky came to Bloomington ranked #1 in the country and with pundits wondering if they could run the table, most fans expected a hard-fought game that would ultimately end in a narrow loss.
It was a basketball classic that ended with Christian Watford hitting a game-winning three pointer at the buzzer to topple #1. It was more than just a win over Kentucky, or the top-ranked team in the country. It was the moment that Indiana basketball returned from the ashes to national prominence.
Here’s the clip, with the call from IU radio legend Don Fischer.
My daughter remembers that night well and still talks about it even today. She was seven years old, and as that shot went in her crazy dad picked her up and carried her all over the house, whooping like a crazy person. I can still see the big grin on her face. Later that night we went out to go get a Christmas tree.
Kentucky got the last laugh — they beat Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen that year, and went on to win the national championship. Don’t care. We’ll always have the Wat Shot.
I’d like to hear from you. We’re all Spurs fans, but that’s the thread that ties together our disparate fandoms from other sports and leagues. What are some of your favorite moments as a sports fan, and how do they compare to the Miracle of Amsterdam? Put them in the comments.