When Football Legends Won Olympic Gold

With the Olympic games less than three months away, it is an occasion in which the nations of the world put each other through different sporting events and of course, the most watched sport in the world takes centre stage during this event. The event happens every four years, fans all over the world get to see their favourite stars and also discover some of the best upcoming stars in the world.

Each qualifying nation can field a team in the Olympic football event that is predominantly composed of U23 players, with three overage players allowed. The tournament is structured as follows: a group phase, elimination rounds, a bronze medal match to determine the third-place team, and a gold medal match to determine first place and runners-up.

During the course of the Olympic, we have had the chance to come across some of the finest footballers in the world who have left their name in the history of the game for their country. We will take a look at some of these players who have delivered for their countries when they were needed most.

Neymar Júnior (Brazil)

After a horrific end to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in his home nation, Brazil, Neymar was given a chance for redemption, a chance which he could not dare pass by. The 2016 Olympic Games were to be hosted in Brazil, and Neymar had made his decision; he was going to make it his mission to captain his country to their first Olympic gold medal in front of his own people. He even abandoned the Copa America Centenario, held that June in the USA.

Neymar did not click into gear during this event until after the group stages, scoring in the quarterfinals as well as the fastest goal in the history of the event against Honduras in the semifinals. With the finals set to be a game against Germany, who Brazil lost to in the World Cup two years prior, Neymar was ready to make amends and finally put a smile on the faces of Brazilians. 

Neymar was bound to have his say in the final, scoring a superb free kick, but the Germans were not going to back down so easily. Credit to the Germans, they stood their ground and did not succumb to the pressure during 120 minutes of football.

With the match hanging in the balance, tension soared to unbearable heights. When Germany failing to score their fifth penalty, it was as if the stars had aligned for Neymar. Two years after the heartache of his nation’s defeat on home soil, he found himself at the epicentre of redemption. With the eyes of the world upon him, the former Barcelona talisman stepped forward.

A single kick would define his legacy and deliver Brazil from the shadow of past disappointment. As the ball nestled into the net, Neymar crumpled to the ground, overcome with emotion. It was a moment of relief as Brazil claimed their maiden Olympic gold in football.

Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María and Sergio Agüero (Argentina)

Argentina went to the 2008 tournament in China with some of the hottest upcoming talents in football, including the likes of Sergio Agüero, Ángel Di María, and a player regarded by most to be the greatest of all time, Lionel Messi. Back then, he was just considered an up-and-coming talent whose career could go either way.

The Barcelona talisman scored two goals and was named as the player of the tournament by FIFA, One of his best friends, Agüero, was also going to make his mark on the tournament, scoring a brace against eternal rivals Brazil in the semifinals.

And in the final, it was their teammate, Di María, who brought gold back for Argentina, scoring the only goal in the final against Nigeria. That saw Argentina dish out revenge for their 1996 failure against the West African side.

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

Samuel Eto’o’s crucial contribution to Cameroon’s gold medal win at the 2000 Olympics made a lasting impression. Even though he had a somewhat quiet campaign, the seasoned striker showed off his true talent in the final, when it meant most. Around the hour mark, Eto’o scored a vital equalizer to cut Cameroon’s deficit and give his team hope.

The contest went into extra time with no clear winner, so a nail-biting penalty shootout decided who would win the gold. With steely composure, Eto’o took the second penalty kick and coolly converted it, contributing significantly to Cameroon’s victory and leaving his mark on Olympic football history. 

Related articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share article

Latest articles