To get in the festive spirit, Typical City will be hosting an advent calendar in the run up to Christmas. Every day in December up until Christmas Day, one of the Typical City team will be sharing their memories of Manchester City throughout the years. You can expect to see recollections of special games, beautiful goals, memorable players and managers, and moments that define what it means to support City.
In this edition, David Mooney recalls some skills from Darius Vassell. Yes, that’s right. Skill from Darius Vassell.
Darius Vassell Skills
Name the best piece of skill you’ve seen done with a football at the Etihad Stadium since it opened in 2003. Really think about it. Actually stop reading this column for 90 seconds or so and concentrate on nothing else but thinking about individual pieces of skill you’ve seen done by City – or other – players at Eastlands.
Whichever one you’ve picked, you’re wrong. It’s not Emmanuel Adebayor’s run that beat four Arsenal players down the left flank in City’s 4-2 win over the Gunners in 2009. It’s most certainly not Elano’s free kick that picked out the perfect part of Shay Given’s goal in the 3-1 win over Newcastle in 2008. None of Robinho’s tricks, flicks and step-overs in his fleeting career in England come top of the list, either. Nor is Mario Balotelli’s shouldered goal the most extravagant piece of skill mustered there. David Silva keeping possession when surrounded by Wigan players before assisting Sergio Aguero – twice – in a 3-0 win doesn’t even come close.
The winner – by a considerable margin – is by Darius Vassell.
Back in 2006-07, Manchester City were really struggling for quality. The fans were struggling with enthusiasm, passion, positivity… even staying awake inside the stadium was quite the challenge. But on one November afternoon that season, the fans inside the ground were given a treat.
Not only did City score 30% of all their home league goals for that campaign in the 3-1 win over Fulham, but Vassell showed off one of the best pieces of improvisation that the pitch there has ever seen.
Trapped in a corner, with nowehere to go, the English striker-turned-left-sided-midfielder-to-plug-a-gap fell over. Disaster! There was surely no way for him to keep possession whilst on his backside on the corner of the Fulham area, right? Well, he had other ideas.
He trapped the ball between his ankles and gripped to it tightly. From there, he propelled himself backwards and lifted the ball above his head, before using the momentum to carry his weight over. He completed the backward roll to stand upright, still in possession, and continued his run into the away side’s box.
Naturally, he was tackled moments later.
The thing is, the game with Fulham in Stuart Pearce’s final season in charge of the club will (wrongly) be remembered for other things. It shouldn’t be the match in which Bernardo Corradi scored two of his three City goals. It shouldn’t be the fixture in which Joey Barton was knighted by the Italian, using the corner flag. It shouldn’t even be the game where City scored three at home in a bleak campaign.
It should solely be the game where Darius Vassell went back to Year 6 gymnastics and did a roly poly in front of 30-odd thousand people.
And if you dare say that that isn’t the greatest piece of individual brilliant the Etihad has seen so far, then you’re a damn liar.
Written by David Mooney