1983, 1986 and 1994. Three years, three very different kinds of goals that actually weren’t scored. Want to know what I mean by “goals not scored”? Well, read on:
All three examples are taken from the German Bundesliga and by chance all three of them involved Bayern Munich and happened at the same stadium, the Olympic Stadium in Munich.
Take 1: October 1, 1983:
Borussia Moenchengladbach plays away at Munich. Defender Hans-Guenter Bruns gets the ball close to the corner of his own baseline. Nothing unusual so far until Bruns exploded: He starts running all the way down the field. On quick give-and-go and he was in scoring position. He put all the power he has left after the 100m sprint into the shot. The ball flew past the Munich goalkeeper and hit the inner side of the goal post. From there it rolled down the goal line, hit the inner side of the opposite goal post and jumped back to the already beaten keeper.
Bruns is known as a fighter. His job was to defend, not to score goals. In this situation he tried all he could do but just lacked a little bit of luck. After the match he received sympathy from all sides, and his effort was even awarded the unofficial title of the best non-goal of the year (whatever that means…).
Take 2: August 9, 1986:
Borussia at Munich again, this time Borussia Dortmund. On the Dortmund roster: Forward Frank Mill, known to be a crooky, tricky player that scores a lot of “dirty” goals. A long pass reaches him, Munich’s defense blows the offside trap, he cruises past the goalie and is all alone, 20 meter in front of the empty goal. His mind starts working: “How can I score a goal the looks damn cool?”. Thinking about it, he slowly approaches the goal when from the corner of his eyes he realizes that the goalkeeper was unexpectedly on his way back – not giving up at all. Mill starts to panic and tries to get rid of the ball. From a distance of maybe 3 meters he hits the goal post from where the ball bounces back and is cleared by the defense. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
Frank Mill, a great forward who scored more than 200 professional goals, is not remembered for any of the goals he scored. For most people he is the arrogant loser that blew it in Munich.
Take 3: April 23, 1994:
Munch plays local rival Nuernberg. Corner for Munich. The ball flies towards Bayern player Thomas Helmer. He is unable to control the ball and puts it past the goal. Then he helps the Nuernberg goalkeeper to get up again and starts to walk back when he realizes that the referee decided that a goal would have been scored. Helmer accepts the gift and starts to celebrate with his team mates instead of informing the referee that no goal was scored. The match ended 2-1 for Munich and caused a controversial discussion. In the end it was decided to replay the match. This time, Munich won 5-0. At the end of the season, Munich became champions while Nuernberg were relegated. Both would not have happened if the match would have ended with a draw.
Thomas Helmer had a successful professional career for 17 years, but all he is remember for is the “phantom goal”, putting him as a cheater.
Failure and mistakes happen. They happen to me, they happen to you, they happen to anybody.
There are three ways of dealing with it:
Try to fool others, trying to avoid that they realize your failure (the Helmer example), play it down by displaying extreme self-confidence (the Mill example) or just give all you can to avoid the failure and accept when it wasn’t enough, knowing that this can happen (the Bruns example).
All these ways may work on the short run. If you don’t want to be remembered as a cheater or an arrogant loser, and I am sure you don’t, the only one that really works on the long run is giving your best to avoid failure, but accept when it happens.
Here’s what the players in question say years after the incidents:
Thomas Helmer: “That’s bad. You play as a professional for 17 years, and then this one situation is always discussed again and again. That’s not very pleasant.”
Frank Mill: “I wish the goalkeeper would not have put me under so much pressure. But it wasn’t him, it was me. Me and my dumb-ass idea of showing off!”
Hans-Guenter Bruns: “At the very moment I could not believe the ball wasn’t in. How it jumped out of the goal again I still can not understand today”.
Try all you can to score. Sometimes the ball just does not want to find its way into the net. That happens, even if you can’t believe it. Just make sure you don’t have to blame yourself. Bruns tried all he could. Even today everybody still respects him for that. Earn your respect!
P.S.: Here are the three non-goals on Youtube for those of you that have never seen them before:
2) Frank Mill