Roberto Baggio: My goal against Nigeria the best
Roberto Baggio, the man of many beautiful goals described his goal against Nigeria as the best of his career.
At the mention of the name ‘Roberto Baggio,’ there you have sores opened in the hearts of many Nigerians as the 51-year-old sole handedly denied the most populous African country a quarter-finals’ place at the 1994 World Cup.
64 years after the maiden edition of the World Cup, Nigeria debuted in 1994, and what would have been the farthest the Super Eagles had gone till date (quarter finals), in the competition was fluffed by Baggio.
The debutant fought their way through in a group of death that had Argentina, Greece, and Bulgaria – and qualified as group winners to set-up a round 16 clash with the Azzuris.
Though Emmanuel Amunike drew the first blood in the encounter for Nigeria, in the 25th minute, and Italy had to trail for most of the match, Baggio restored parity for the Azzuris, with two minute left on the clock, before scoring the winning goal from a penalty in the extra time.
A decade plus after, Baggio wouldn’t give a chance for the sore to heal soon in the hearts of Nigerians as he described his 102-minute winner from the spot as the best of his career.
“Sometimes you might score a goal, but it’s important for you and the team,” he said while reflecting on his 27 goals for the Italian National team
“If you create a masterpiece and you lose 8-1, it doesn’t count. My most important goals was the last minute winner against Nigeria in 1994.
“It probably wasn’t so beautiful to look at, but it was useful because it got Italy through.”
Since the 1994 World Cup, Nigeria have only failed once (2006) to qualify for the World Cup.
The three-time African champions made it to round 16 on two occasions – 1998 and 2014, and got knocked out from the group stage in 2002, 2010, and 2014.