- Riley McGree is nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award
- Australian netted sensational scorpion kick for Newcastle Jets in April 2018
- Is it the best goal of 2018? Vote now for your favourite!
Riley McGree has always been a bit special. Called into Australia’s national team squad just six weeks after making his starting debut in senior football, the attacking midfielder displayed odd flashes of rare class.
But no-one ever expected that ‘did it really happen moment’ last April when McGree – still a teenager – produced a unique jaw-dropping goal that had social media abuzz across the world.
The context just added further to the special nature of the goal. After a fairytale charge to the A-League semi-final, outsiders Newcastle Jets seemed to be suffering a dose of stage fright in the club’s biggest match on home soil for at least a decade. An experienced Melbourne City led 1-0 with the Jets seemingly out of attacking ideas as the second half wore on.
Then came the moment. McGree exchanged passes with team-mates on the edge of the penalty area and within the blink of an eye the ball, almost inexplicably, was suddenly looping over a stranded goalkeeper with apparent pinpoint precision.
With the pass delivered waist-high and slightly behind him, McGree had instinctively flicked his leg at the ball achieving a perfect scorpion kick to secure an extraordinary momentum-changing equaliser and allowing the Jets to eventually prevail 2-1.
“You try anything really and if it pays off, well done,” the 19-year-old said. “If it doesn’t, have another go. It is a bit instinctive. You have to have a bit of improvisation.”
Quirkily, McGree, who was on loan from Club Brugge at the time, now plays for the very club he scored his famous goal against – Melbourne City.
“It [the scorpion kick] was definitely a big highlight in my career in so far as the way it was scored and what it did for the Jets, but I didn’t really let all the attention affect me too much and tried to take it in my stride.”
Was McGree’s scorpion kick your favourite goal of 2018?
What they said
“If I was voting, I wouldn’t vote them [Ronaldo or Bale]. I really love Riley McGree’s goal. That is extraordinary that. Just thinking about doing that; the ball is behind you, and flicking it with your heel. You see the goalkeeper stranded in the middle there. The one thing he didn’t cover was that. I think it was brilliant.”
Former Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel speaking at announcement of The Best FIFA Football Awards
“I don’t remember too much of the goal, it was all very quick. The ball came over and I thought I’ve just got to get this towards goal somehow so I reached out and got a really strong connection on the ball – probably more so than I expected – and managed to steer it towards goal. I felt I got a good connection and knew it had a chance then, seeing [goalkeeper] Dean [Bouzanis] off his line. I couldn’t believe it. When I look back, I think my face says it all really.”
Riley McGree on his goal nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award