ON THIS DAY IN 2002: Zinedine Zidane’s goal for Real Madrid in the Champions League final has been hailed as one of the best of all time, not just by outsiders but also by those who played under the legend
On May 15, 2002, Real Madrid faced Bayer Leverkusen for Champions League glory. With the help of one of the all-time best goals in a European final, they got it.
Some 20 years later, Zinedine Zidane’s volley remains very much in the ‘greatest of all time’ conversation. A long volley, with his bad foot, of what wasn’t Roberto Carlos’ perfect ball, 1-1 in the Champions League final – yes, that’s going to take a little while.
It is a goal that France Football considered the most beautiful of all time in the Champions League, in the final or otherwise. Beauty is what elevates her above the rest, and that’s what now – two decades later – means she’s still appreciated around the world.
Those who were inside Hampden Park for the final remember the goal fondly, but they weren’t the only ones. Here, Mirror Football examines past and present players’ comments on a goal few will ever forget.
It’s not just those who were there in 2002 who appreciated the quality. Indeed, those who followed Zidane to the Bernabeu held the goal in similar esteem.
Hazard played under Zidane at Madrid when the World Cup winner was manager, and the Belgian made the right noises when he arrived in Spain. Things may not have worked out for Hazard at Madrid since his transfer in 2019, but in September of that year he heaped praise on Zizou.
At a Mahou event ahead of the Madrid derby, he was asked about the ‘greatest goal ever’ and his answer was simple. « Zidane’s volley against Bayer Leverkusen ».
Perhaps the biggest contender for Zidane’s crown came in 2018, when Bale scored another stunner in a Champions League final for Real Madrid. His bicycle kick against Liverpool was not officially the winner, with the Welshman scoring again to make it 3-1, but to say otherwise is to split hairs.
Two years before that goal, ahead of a final against Atletico Madrid, Bale spoke lyrically about Zidane’s 2002 effort. The Welshman didn’t score in 2016, when Zidane was in the dugout for a penalty shootout victory on goal, but Bale’s moment would come later.
« I think my favorite Champions League moment growing up would have to be that Zinedine Zidane volley against Bayer Leverkusen, » said the former Spurs star. I was a huge Real Madrid fan as a kid, so winning the Champions League with a goal like that was really something special.