Are goals from the halfway line overrated?

Long-range goals are remarkably popular but are these big hoofs worthy of such high praise?

By Tom Lines for WSC, part of the Guardian Sport Network

It took exactly 2.8 seconds for David Beckham to become a household name. The time between the ball leaving his right boot, arcing 55 yards over a furiously back-pedalling Neil Sullivan, and nestling comfortably in the back of the Wimbledon net. Scoring from the halfway line had seemed possible until that moment but still tantalisingly out of reach. Pelé famously came close in 1970, Chris Waddle nearly managed it at Italia 90 (but the offside flag was up anyway) and when Manchester City’s John Bailey did it in 1982 he quickly admitted the whole thing had been a fluke.

Beckham’s emphatic statement on the opening day of the 1996-97 season is one of the most iconic goals of the Premier League era, an anything-is-possible-now symbol of the game shifting through the gears on its way to becoming today’s multi-billion pound box office industry. But it’s also the ultimate example of how (and probably why) ultra-long-distance goals have become curiously overrated.

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