Euro 2024: Why not many are surprised with Lamine Yamal’s wonder goal

Still three days shy of his 17th birthday, the Spanish prodigy could be football’s next big thing

Lamine Yamal becomes youngest goal scorer in Euro history (photo: Getty Images)
Lamine Yamal becomes youngest goal scorer in Euro history (photo: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

A day before the Euro 2024 final on Sunday, 14 July, Spain’s wonderkid Lamine Yamal will turn 17. There has been a story going around as to how German labour laws prevents minors working after 8.00 pm, though athletes are a special case, and not even they can work beyond 11.00 pm.

Taciturn Spanish coach Luis de la Fuente jokingly said he would take off Yamal if need be to conform with the rules, but he didn’t have to. Yamal created history by being the youngest player to feature in the Euros and score a goal, an awesome strike which would have made the game’s current crown prince Kylian Mbappe proud, as it shaped a Spanish rally in the semi-final last night from which France could never really recover.

If the football world was wondering as to who could be the next big thing in the game, Lamine Yamal Nasraoui Ebana — son of Moroccan father Mounir and mother Sheila of Equatorial Guinea — has provided the answer. There was enough hype which preceded his arrival in Euro, with Leo Messi asking the world to watch out and Fuente taking a calculated gamble with a prodigy who had already played more than 50 matches for Barcelona in his inaugural season.

Social media went viral with visuals of Yamal carrying his homework to Germany as he has a school exam to write, but his maturity on the pitch simply belied his years. A right winger, he gave enough glimpses throughout the tournament about his decisiveness in finding the right teammate for the ball and not engaging in excessive possession as it would invite cynical tackles, but the goal against France, the first field goal against the former champions in 525 minutes, was a stroke of genius.

Let’s borrow on the Guardian to recapture the moment: ‘’Faced by a French midfielder — oh, hi Adrien — Lamine Yamal took a step inside, sent Rabiot for cigarettes and bent a belter into the net beyond Mike Maignan. The place exploded, he sprinted to the bench, skidding to his knees, all this a little absurd.’’   

The goal is going round in loops and whoever among England and Netherlands sets up a final with Spain on 14 July, need to have a plan for Lamine along with cutting the tapestry of passes that Morata’s men whipped up in the semi-final. Interestingly enough, those who have followed this precocious teenager’s exploits from the grassroots days are not surprised at his Euro exploits.

Guillem Balague, an authority on Spanish football and the biographer of Messi, traced Yamal’s rise from the deprived area of Rocafonda 304, an area usually avoided by millions of tourists who flock to Barcelona round the year.

Speaking to him for BBC Sport, former Barcelona reporter Jaume Marcet said: ‘’The most brutal display I have seen in grassroots football was from Lamine in the final of the Catalunya cadet tournament. I had seen Messi perform brutally, but never something like what Lamine did in that match, with kids older than him. That day he did everything.’’

Well, Euro could just be the beginning of the Lamine Yamal story. Given the fact that a footballer’s peak period is apparently between the ages of 26 and 28, he already has a headstart of about 10 years. If things go as per expectation, one shudders to think where it will all add up!

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