Did you see Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney’s unbelievable “bicycle kick” goal on Feb. 12 that proved to be the clincher in United’s 2-1 battle against Manchester City? It’s not to be missed.
To fill the gap between the end of the National Football League season and Major League Baseball’s spring training (pitchers and catchers report tomorrow for the New York Mets), I’ve been watching Man Utd and London’s Arsenal on Fox TV’s soccer network.
On Saturday, I wasn’t around to catch the TV action, but saw three photos of Rooney’s shot in the Sunday Daily News. There was a caption, telling readers to check the News’ website for a video. I logged on, but was too late.
The spoiled sports at England’s Premier League own the copyright to Rooney’s classic. Though it was among the most popular videos on YouTube, the suits at the Premier League had it taken down. That’s short-sighted, miserable PR and bad business
Man Utd coach Alex Ferguson called Rooney’s strike the greatest shot that he has seen in 25 years at Old Trafford. Jason Gay, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, dubbed Rooney’s winner the “shot of the decade.” It was a “global moment requires no translation.”
The Premier League licenses its videos to British newspapers such as the Guardian to post in the U.K. only, which is downright silly in the age of the global Internet. For the past two decades, soccer advocates have predicted that the “beautiful game” was on the brink of breakthrough in the U.S.
Rooney’s shot captivates even the most casual soccer fan, like me. As Gay put it, “Even if you're a soccer skeptic; even if you gleefully ignore the World Cup; even if you don't have the faintest idea who this Wayne Rooney is, it's a must see. It's that sublime.”
The U.K.’s Premier League is among the world’s best. If soccer eventually takes hold here, there will be tens of thousands of Americans buying the jerseys of teams in the Premier League. The League should plaster Rooney's shot all over the U.S.
Luckily, Rooney’s video is available on Fox’s soccer station and its sister operation, Sky TV. It’s well worth checking out before you start arguing about whether the Mets should eat the contract of second base flop Luis Castillo to give Danny Murphy a shot to follow the footsteps of the great Jackie Robinson, who played first -- like Murph -- before converting to second base. Next is the question of Ollie Perez.
On second thought, let’s watch Rooney’s shot a couple more times.