At 40, Club Brugge KV goalkeeper Dany Verlinden decided that the Belgian Cup final against KSK Beveren would be his farewell game, and he certainly went out in style with an unforgettable bicycle kick. The veteran goalkeeper had just made a fine save to stop a Ndri Romaric free-kick when, in a misguided attempt to clear the loose ball, he managed to scoop it over his head and into the net. "I still do not know what exactly happened," said Verlinden. "It all went so fast. I do not think I ever scored such a beautiful goal before. It will certainly be a candidate for the 'Goal of the Month' competition." The goalkeeper's effort made it 1-1 but happily, his side went on to win 4-2. "Luckily for me we still won the cup, so no one will really blame me," said Verlinden. "But you see, whether it's your first or last match, these things can still happen." The goalkeeper was to receive further proof of the power of bad luck when Brugge's Birger Maertens accidentally volleyed past him for Beveren's second goal of the game. "I have scored better goals," said the defender.
In other news of self-inflicted agony, RC Deportivo La Coruña coach Javier Irureta has shown that he is a man of his word. Ahead of the club's UEFA Champions League quarter-final return against AC Milan on 7 April, the 56-year-old had told reporters: "If we beat Milan tomorrow, I will do the Pilgrims Walk between La Coruña and Santiago de Compostela, on my knees if I have to!" Since his side were trailing 4-1 from the first leg, it looked like the coach would not have to act on his promise, but a 4-0 win at the Riazor forced Irureta's hand. True to his word, on Tuesday, Irureta, his assistants and medical chief César Cobián completed a 70km stretch of the walk - an eight-hour trek. "That was harder than a training session with [former Club Atlético de Madrid coach] Max Merkel!" Irureta quipped afterwards. "We thanked the apostle for helping us beat Milan, perhaps we should have brought him a token gift too, maybe a Depor scarf, but we forgot," he said. The coach added, with a smile: "Five or six of our players wouldn't have been able to stomach this walk - but I won't let on who they are!"
Bare essentials for Subbuteo
A fan of the game Subbuteo has hit upon the novel ploy of selling scale-model streakers for those who like their table football with an x-rated twist. Tom Taylor, a former fireman from the English midlands, has reportedly sold thousands of his sets of male and female streakers with accompanying policemen. "They've got all the bits," Taylor said. "The women have got nipples and the blokes have got all the parts there. They are the best-selling accessory we've got." Taylor runs a toy shop which specialises in Subbuteo, and has taken on the mantle of helping keep the game alive after manufacturers Hasbro stopped making the game in 2001 in the face of falling sales. He believes that streakers could yet be incorporated into the table football rules. "You can easily organise a streaker chase, with the streaker having a flick and the policeman having a flick until the policeman hits the streaker and he's deemed to be arrested," he said. "You can use them tactically during a game if you've muffed up with your goalkeeper and your opponent only has to tap the ball into an unguarded net."
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