Football analyst Michael Edgley has travelled the world watching the beautiful game in 2018. From unbelievable goals to culture changes, these are his top 10 moments of the year.
In July, Frenchman Benjamin Pavard’s 57th-minute goal in the epic 4-3 win by France over Argentina in the round of 16 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was voted goal of the tournament.
Not only was this goal an individual highlight reel, it drew France level in a critical phase of the knockout match, and gave it the impetus to go on and win. The match is described by most pundits as the match of the tournament.
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) July 25, 2018
In May, Real Madrid’s Welsh wizard Gareth Bale scored an astonishing overhead kick to seal Real Madrid’s 3-1 Champions League final victory over Liverpool. The substitute scored a phenomenal goal on one of football’s biggest stages and secured his team European glory – again!
Gareth Bale's bicycle kick against Liverpool has in the Champions League final has NOT been nominated for UEFA's Goal of the Season! 😱 pic.twitter.com/EEdIYkHkUN
— Football Stands (@TheFootyStands) August 15, 2018
In December, as Ada Hegerberg stood on stage achieving the respect of the football world, accepting her Ballon dÓr award, French DJ Martin Solveig asked her to twerk. It was a putrid question that prompted global outrage.
However, Hegerberg showed her class by refusing and calmly walking off stage. Well played, and Hegerber has since turned this incident into a message for equality.
A French DJ has apologized after he asked Ada Hegerberg, the first woman to win soccer's coveted Ballon d'Or, if she knew how to twerk pic.twitter.com/uGBny2LqkT
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) December 22, 2018
In October the governance crisis that enveloped Australian football for more than two years ended with the resignation of Football Federation of Australia chairman Steven Lowy, ending his family’s 15-year leadership reign over Australian football.
In the aftermath, a new FFA board was elected and Chris Nikou emerged as the new chairman and Heather Reid his deputy.
Watch FFA Chairman, Mr Steven Lowy AM's media conference live. https://t.co/0hlofp7CIl
— Football Australia (@FFA) August 17, 2018
The emergence of the fledgling Association of Australian Football Clubs and the work they continue to do to promote the establishment of a second tier of professional football in Australia and the eventual reconnection of the football pyramid to the A-League.
The movement is gaining momentum.
Those of us who work in the football industry have known it for some time.
However, the rise and rise of the Matildas – underpinned by Samantha Kerr’s profile and performances on the international stage – is now capturing the imagination of the wider Australian community.
The Matildas continue to perform, as reflected in their ascension to sixth in FIFA’s rankings. They are heading into the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France full of confidence.
To celebrate @CLogarzo's birthday, re-live her stunning goal against the USA earlier this year! 🙌
— Westfield Matildas (@TheMatildas) December 22, 2018
In April, Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic debuted for Los Angles Galaxy in the MLS.
Ibrahimovic was subbed on with his team 3-1 down. He scored to equalise for Galaxy, and then backed it up to score a 90th-minute winner.
Hello, America – meet Zlatan!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s debut for @LAGalaxy
🔄 Zlatan subbed on at 3-1 down
⚽️ Scores a screamer to equalise
⚽️ Scores 90th minute winner
Zlatan has arrived! 🇺🇸
— Football Away Days (@sportingawayday) April 1, 2018
At last, we have an expansion to the Hyundai A-League.
Western Melbourne Group (entry in the 2019-2020 season) and Macarthur South-West Sydney (entry in the 2020-2021 season) will inject new interest, attendances and broadcast viewers.
But is it enough to get the A-League back on track?
In October, Socceroos debuts were handed to Awer Mabil and Thomas Deng in a friendly match against Kuwait.
As Johnny Warren once said, “The most courageous Australians are the ones that choose to make it their home”.
Mabil and Deng, both South Sudanese refugees, shared a wonderful moment when Mabil scored his maiden Socceroo goal.
Football again displayed its power to unite, while the Socceroos continue to reflect the diversity of the Australian community like no other national sporting team.
This is what it's all about. 🇦🇺
An incredible moment this morning as @Socceroos debutant Awer Mabil slotted home his first goal for his nation.
First to join him to celebate? His good mate Thomas Deng. 😍pic.twitter.com/9PTBUFrvW9
— FOX SPORTS Football (@FOXFootballLive) October 15, 2018
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia was an amazing event superbly hosted and expertly executed by a proud nation that understood the impact of global major events.
In a normal year only 4000 Australians visit Russia. However, for three weeks in June, 8000 travelling Australians attended the event.
The support they provided to the Socceroos was impactful and impressive.
Collectively, they were outstanding ambassadors for Australia and helped forged a new understanding of Russia and its culture.
I’m biased, but the FIFA World Cup in Russia was my football highlight of 2018.
Spasiba (Thank you!).
Michael Edgley is a director with The Green & Gold Army.