World Cup memories: Al-Owairan's goal, 1994
In an ongoing series, CBCSports.ca asked players, managers, broadcasters, journalists and fans to recall their favourite World Cup memories.
Next up: Henry Winter.
Winter is the chief soccer reporter for English news daily The Daily Telegraph. Considered one of the top soccer writers in England, Winter also ghostwrote the autobiography of Liverpool captain and England midfielder Steven Gerrard.
Winter was on assignment for The Independent at the 1994 World Cup in the United States when he was fortunate enough to witness first-hand one of the greatest goals in the history of the tournament.
Washington, D.C.'s RFK Stadium provided the stage, as Saudi Arabia's Saeed Al-Owairan started slowly with the ball deep in his end and began to pick up pace as he moved forward. With nobody coming over to close him down, the Saudi midfielder just kept running straight down the middle, sped past four Belgian players and blasted the ball home past goalkeeper Michel Preud'homme.
The goal was of such quality that it earned Al-Owairan the nickname "The Maradona of the Arabs."
The Saudis went on to win the first-round game 1-0 and clinch a spot in the next round, but it was Al-Owairan's goal that fans still talk about to this day — including Winter, who was at the stadium covering the game.
"I wasn't expecting much [from the game] and was going to file a small, 200-word story on it," Winter told CBCSports.ca. "But then Al-Owairan picked the ball up and ran through most of Washington, most of North America, up and down the Potomac River before scoring.
"It was just one of those magical goals."