Dele Alli and The Suspicions of Genius

Was it really *that* good? Yes. Yes it was.


So, anyone catch Dele Alli’s goal this weekend? Or to rephrase it: OHHMYGODHAVEYOUSEENDELEALLISGOAL?!! as the thousands of text messages pinging across the airspace will have read, in the minutes following the England international’s fabulous piece of individual brilliance on Saturday afternoon.

The goal caused seismic judders in the footballing community. Twitter lost its collective sh*t, obviously; Vines looped so frequently that the app might well have burst into flames and MOTD provided so many action replays that it could’ve spilled over into MOTD2.

On the streets, heads sprung out of windows in wintry North London Town, perfect strangers asking; you boy, have you seen the goal? before demanding they fetch the biggest goose they could from the market.

It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, of course. Comparisons were made with other multi-touch volleys from the Premier League Vault; Le Tissier, Poyet and Henry. And, equally, arguments were made that it would be a bloody insult to have it talked about in such lofty esteem. There really is no pleasing some people.

Others mentioned that the whole episode could’ve been avoided had Palace’s defenders not been so half-hearted in their attempts to win the ball back. The goalkeeper should’ve done better, some contested, it wasn’t even in the corner.

In light of all the small print, you’d be forgiven for thinking: who cares? Is anyone particularly bothered if the goal was better than Thierry Henry’s scoop, swivel and volley against Man United in 2000 (it probably wasn’t) often cited as one of the League’s finest ever or if Mile Jedinak was a bit slow to react to Alli’s initial touch.

At the Friends Arena in 2012, Joe Hart perhaps shouldn’t have come steaming out of his goal, as if someone had thrown a grenade into his penalty area; maybe Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s preposterous 35-yard overhead kick might never have materialised. But to focus on these details would be to rather suck the fun out of things.

Dele Alli’s goal, however you try and spin it, was something tantamount to genius. If your natural reaction to these kind of moments is to give forensic, blow-by-blow accounts of exactly why it wasn’t anything of the sort, then, well, this sport mightn’t be for you.

Football can be boring as hell sometimes. Let’s not pass up the opportunity to get excited when something actually magical happens.

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