Your modern football fans all like to see bias in absolutely everything ever written about association football, and, like a stopped clock, they will sometimes be right. We are very, very, very biased in favour of Erik Lamela, the greatest sh*thouse the Premier League ever saw and someone who we miss terribly now he’s wasting away in Spain or some such footballing backwater rather than delighting us with his antics on the regular in proper football, English football.
Whenever we’re feeling down – and while Blue Monday might be a load of old marketing tosh there’s no denying that a grey January day when Premier League matches keep getting postponed is pretty grim – we like to remember Erik the Magnificent and all the great and so often underappreciated things he did for the game in this country.
Clearly, the lads at FIFA feel the same because they’ve only gone and given him the Puskas Award for that extraordinary goal that delighted us all and bored Alan Smith senseless.
A strike worthy of being called #TheBest
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) January 17, 2022
More than enough justification I think you’ll agree (and I don’t care if you don’t, because bias) to wheel out a top 10 of our favourite Lamela moments.
10) Having a navy blue Santa at his kid’s Christmas party
At number 10 purely to instantly highlight the sort of person we’re dealing with here. There’s something joyous about a player – especially a foreign one – joining a club and becoming as absurdly obsessed with the club as the most hopelessly addicted fan. Lamela is one such player, instantly becoming fully COYS to the extent that he wouldn’t allow a traditional red Santa at a kids’ party. There’s a petty brilliance that tells you so, so much about his on-field nonsense.
— Last Word On Spurs (@LastWordOnSpurs) December 25, 2019
9) Burnley water bottle mischief
Classic Lamela, this, coming off the bench to help Spurs defend a shaky 1-0 lead at a time under Jose Mourinho’s reign of terror when they were conspicuously bad at doing so. Quickly and correctly identifying Burnley’s likeliest route back into the game, Lamela produces a Proper Tackle on Dwight McNeil to Let Him Know He’s There. Enough for most players, for mere mortals, but just the starter for the Machiavellian Lamela. When the Burnley physio arrives on the scene, Lamela nonchalantly steals his water bottle. Absolutely freaks my nut that there are people out there who honestly think winning a Carabao or whatever is somehow better and more important than this.
8) Calling Jack Wilshere a pussy
North London Derbies were the ideal canvas for an artist such as Lamela. The heat and fire of the occasion ideal fodder for his brand of infuriating nonsense. While his true masterpiece was still a couple of years away, sending Wilshere into a blind rage by hacking him down and then saying “F*** you, pussy” was the sort of thing that makes you wonder what goes on in the heads of those Spurs fans – and they did still exist right to the end – who never rated their greatest ever player.
Look at his face, just look at his face.
Erik Lamela to Jack Wilshere:
“F*ck off you p*ssy”.
God how can you not love this little Argentinian bastard. Knew exactly what he was doing, just look at the smirk on his face.
— Ricky Sacks (@RickySacks) February 10, 2018
7) The Anthony Martial red card
It’s barely 15 months since Manchester United 1-6 Tottenham happened, but it already seems like ancient and dubious history. Did it really happen? Can’t have, surely. Too silly. Lamela didn’t bother himself with such frippery as joining in with the goal fun on this occasion, funnelling all his energies into sh*thousing. We’ll never know just how decisive his actions were to the final outcome, but it’s reasonable to assume ‘pretty bloody decisive’ would be somewhere close. An odd game had already seen Spurs overturn an early deficit to lead 2-1 before Lamela’s 28th-minute masterpiece in which he would wind up Martial so much that the Frenchman had simply no option but to respond in the most minor way imaginable. That was all Lamela needed. Down he went, off Martial went. As United struggled to cope with the stupidity of it all and heads in red were gone everywhere you looked, Spurs helped themselves to another couple of goals in the eight minutes that followed.
6) Bellowing at the Ajax fans
Okay, even we are prepared to admit that Lamela has to take second place to Lucas Moura in the story of Spurs’ most astonishing victory of recent times. But that doesn’t mean our hero didn’t play his part, shrewdly deciding that Lucas’ 96th-minute winner was the perfect time to start screaming at the heartbroken, crestfallen Ajax fans. That only one of them is moved to propel a bottle at him is frankly astonishing.
Lucas Moura v Ajax
“Ohhhh they’ve done it” pic.twitter.com/ju2jQpbhTI
— george (@StokeyyG2) January 16, 2022
5) Last-minute ball-roll v Ajax
But even that wasn’t his final or even best contribution to that memorable night. It’s funny how memory can deceive; we, understandably, see that final, decisive goal all the time. The commentary even calls it “the last kick of the game”. But it wasn’t. Despite the goal coming in the sixth minute of added time there was what, at the time, seemed an interminable further period of play before the final whistle. Countless moments in which Spurs had the time and opportunity to do something more Spurs than any Spurs they had ever Spursed before. So what did Lamela do? Just casually completed some of his trademark ball-rolls on the edge of his own area while every Spurs fan on earth tried to process what had just happened and what still could. In those crazy moments, Lamela stayed in his process and stuck to what he knew. These are the things that separate the good from the great.
4) Technically not scoring a hat-trick against Leicester
Strip everything else away, and Lamela brings two things to a football match. First, he treats every game as if it’s a World Cup final, and second, he brings pure chaotic energy. In a way, that makes him perhaps the perfect footballer for the final day of the league season, a day when logic and sense traditionally goes out of the window and the actual significance of a match is often inversely proportional to how entertaining it turns out to be. He’d already had previous in final-day daftness, scoring the one in Spurs’ 5-1 thrashing at already-relegated Newcastle to cede second place to Arsenal in 2016.
Spurs were already assured of a top-four finish by the time the final game of 2017/18 came round against Leicester but were still a bit miffed to find themselves 3-1 down early in the second half at Wembley. Fifteen minutes later, Lamela had scored three to put Spurs 4-3 up. Sure, Leicester would go on to equalise for 4-4 and force Harry Kane into scoring the actual winner, and the joyless know-nothings at the Dubious Goals Panel would officially award the second of Lamela’s three goals to Chrstian Fuchs, but real heads know what went down that day.
3) Getting kicked up the arse by Virgil van Dijk
Hard as it may be to comprehend now, back in the dim and distant past of early 2018 Liverpool and Spurs were direct rivals. Both were locked in a scrap for Champions League qualification and Spurs arrived at Anfield in February sat in fifth place, two points behind their hosts in third. For a full appreciation of how much has changed in the four years since, Burnley were seventh.
This was a great game even before Lamela got involved in the dying moments. Mo Salah gave Liverpool a third-minute lead which they held for 77 minutes. Then it all went silly. Victor Wanyama thrikered home a daft equaliser, before Harry Kane uncharacteristically missed a penalty. Salah then appeared to have won the game for Liverpool with a very characteristic slaloming run and ingenious finish over Hugo Lloris in added time. Enter Lamela, who detected contact from Van Dijk in an early pre-colossus Liverpool display and hit the ground in his usual quiet, undemonstrative manner. Another penalty, and this time Kane made no mistake. Both would end up in the top four, going on to contest the Champions League final the following season.
2) The non-Puskas-winning Rabona v Asteras Tripolis
It takes Lamela-level genius to steal the show in a Europa classic in which Harry Kane scores a hat-trick and then goes in nets after Hugo Lloris gets sent off and promptly chucks a consolation goal for the Greeks into his own net.
But Lamela did precisely that with a goal so extraordinary that at first watch on TV it looks like a glitch. Any goal you have to instantly rewind just to figure out what happened is worth cherishing. That his later exploits would make it possible to have a debate about which Rabona was his best is testament to the great man. This one, while undoubtedly in a lower-profile game, came from greater distance and has an inherently pleasing trajectory that would have been deeply satisfying had it been produced by the sort of dreary run-of-the-mill footballer who thinks using their right foot is a legitimate option.
1) The Puskas-winning Rabona v Arsenal
The first ever Puskas Award-winning goal to have “just trundled in”. Incredible that it’s not for sure the best Rabona goal Lamela has scored for Spurs. Judging by this, it might not even be in the top two for his career.
But this was pretty special. The nutmeg on its way is pure chef’s kiss. That it came in what would eventually be a pretty limp 2-1 NLD defeat makes it undeniably apt as the final great moment in Lamela’s Spurs career, not least because he also managed to get himself sent off for, staggeringly, the one and only time during his eight years in England.
It’s worth noting that the criteria for the Puskas, an inevitably futile attempt to codify something as subjective as goal greatness, contains the phrase “aesthetically significant”. It is a perfect description of Lamela, a player who is nowhere near the best and certainly not the most successful but has brought so very much to the sport.
And it proves once and for all that the decision to swap him for a member of Spain’s fifth best Beatles tribute band – and to send millions of pounds Sevilla’s way on top – is an act of extreme cultural vandalism at which even the current government would baulk.
The post Top 10 moments from Puskas-winning sh*thouse Erik Lamela appeared first on Football365.