A goal. Such a special place on Earth. Do you know what I’m talking about? When I first stood in a goal, I felt like I was just dreaming. And the first impression was really scary.
Back then, kids and youth players didn’t use small portable goals that are used today. No, we had to use the normal ones, heavy and fixed with a concrete base, the ones that grown-up players used on the big pitch. There was no way I could jump up to the bar and running from one post to the other took me half a day. It was like being in a huge cage with no escape route.
“I feel so tiny,” I thought to myself, dismayed.
Now I know that a goal can be both endlessly vast and infinitesimally small. Even though the proportions never change.
That being said, every goal is different, although this difference is usually just a couple of millimetres. This happens at small village pitches as well as the big stages of European championships. The ground gets stomped down, the grass gets trampled and suddenly everything changes. I remember the Košutky pitch. Košutky was one of the boroughs of Plzeň, and there was an allotment garden and a shooting range in the hills above. But that’s not important, let’s get back to the pitch… it was slanted, and one end was maybe three metres higher than the other. You see?
One half was almost perfectly flat, but the other was so slanted that when you put the ball on the ground it just started rolling away. It was a proper hill, like a skiing slope. When I was standing on the goal line, the goal was a metre higher. If I’d ran out to the penalty spot (as I tend to do now), the opponent could have taken a shot from the half-way line and it would have been a goal. I would have had no chance of jumping high enough to make a save. So that was Košutka, but don’t worry, the pitch has been fixed and now it’s nice and flat.
P.S. Next week? Suprise!