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Friday 20 April 2012

20 Seasons Awards: Tony Yeboah's thunderbolt

Brian Deane and David James offer very differing views of a great Premier League goal

Leeds' Tony Yeboah scored a sensational volley in the 1-0 win over Liverpool in August 1995

WATCH THE GREATEST PREMIER LEAGUE GOALS - AND VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE

More than 20,000 goals have been scored in the Premier League's 20 Seasons - but few have entered the public’s consciousness like the one scored by an unassuming Ghanaian on a mild Yorkshire evening in August 1995.

Anthony "Tony" Yeboah - a muscular, direct forward - had joined Leeds United from Eintracht Frankfurt eight months previously and had quickly built a reputation with 12 goals in his first 18 Premier League matches.

"An absolutely wonderful goal"
- Team-mate Brian Deane

That return, coupled with his affable personality, meant he was already a favourite with the Elland Road faithful at the start of the 1995/96 season, and two goals in a 2-1 win at West Ham in their opening match only strengthened that bond.

But his defining moment was still to come.

United’s next match saw them entertain Roy Evans’ Liverpool at home, with the Anfield outfit keen to build on the previous season’s fourth-place finish.

Fifty minutes into an even contest it was 0-0, and most onlookers would have struggled to pick a winner.

Enter Yeboah.

As Tony Dorigo’s cross was headed back by Rod Wallace towards Yeboah 25 yards out, there seemed little obvious danger as the striker shaped for a volley which appeared a touch on the ambitious side.

"I hate that goal"
- Goalkeeper David James

But the execution was nigh-on perfect.

Yeboah simply could not have caught the ball any more sweetly.  The shot's power was matched only by its placement as it rocketed towards goal, picking up extra style points for dramatically smashing off the underside of the bar, bouncing behind the line and up into the roof of the net.

The match finished 1-0 and the goal fittingly fired Leeds to the top of the Premier League, albeit for only 24 hours.

Howard Wilkinson's side went on to finish 13th - but while the club's good start faded, the memory of Yeboah's perfect volley remains crystal clear.

BRIAN DEANE'S VIEW

Brian Deane, scorer of the first-ever Premier League goal in 1992, was a team-mate of Yeboah’s that night and he said the years had not faded the memory.

"We called Tony 'The King'"
- Brian Deane

"Of course I can remember that goal!" he told premierleague.com.

"It was the first game of the season on SKY and the ball’s ended up bouncing about. If you look at the technique of Tony, it was a right-footed volley and Tony’s left-footed!

"You have to understand the skill that was involved at that point. It was an absolutely wonderful goal.

"I think it was just the signal of the start of another amazing season.

"Tony had warmed everyone up with a couple of crackers before then as well. But as soon as you see that goal, you think ‘wow’. It’s right up there with the very best.

"We used to call Tony ‘The King’ – and he was such a kind, warm, cool, calm, collected person. It was an absolute privilege to play with him."

DAVID JAMES' VIEW

David James has a very different perspective on that goal in more ways than one. He was the Liverpool goalkeeper that night – and he told premierleague.com that he believes he should have saved it.

"I blame the commentators!"
- David James

"I hate that goal," he said.

"At the time, I spent quite a few weeks afterwards moaning about the fact that I should have saved it.

"I got to see the coverage because it was the live game on SKY. I think the commentator said about 30 seconds beforehand ‘all this game needs is a goal’ - and then Tony Yeboah turns up and scores.

"I blame the commentators!

"But it was, obviously, a terrific strike, and it was in a rich period of form for him at the time as well."

Yeboah went on to score 12 Premier League goals in 1995/96, including a hat-trick at Wimbledon which included another fabulous individual effort. The goal against Liverpool was voted August's Goal of the Month.

Of course, Yeboah's goal is just one of the incredible strikes to grace the 20 Seasons of the Premier League. And you can have your say on which is the greatest.

VOTE NOW FOR THE BEST GOAL IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE'S 20 SEASONS

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Key Points

  • Premier League is celebrating 20 Seasons
  • Awards for the greatest stars and best moments in Premier League history
  • You can vote for the Best Goal in the 20 Seasons of the Premier League