AC Milan’s 4-3 win at Lecce back in October 2011 stands out for me as one of the single greatest comebacks in my time watching football.
It exemplified a fighting spirit that, at the time, I could only really appreciate by looking at games that had already past. It endeared me further toward my favourite team and highlighted, for me, the importance of personalities in any football team.
The game started badly for Milan, going behind after four minutes to a Giullermo Giacomazzi header. With only defeats to Juventus and Napoli respectively so far in the campaign, fresh from lifting an eighteenth Scudetto, it’s safe to say I was already a little embarrassed at this early point.
A calamitous bit of goalkeeping from Christian Abbiati gifted Massimo Oddo a spot kick against his parent club, taking and converting it emphatically.
Yet more defensive calamities saw Carlos Grossmuller tap in a third before half time.
Every sinew in my body wanted to turn the game off.
As the second half began and Kevin-Prince Boateng replaced Robinho I had little hope, it’s fair to say.
But within four minutes the Ghanaian smashed a quite brilliant half volley into the top corner with his weaker foot, his celebration muted as he ran back to restart play.
Moments later he’d done it again, rifling his effort on the edge of the box into the net; his celebration almost a carbon copy of the first. Before I knew it Boateng had completed his hat-trick, smashing a ricocheted shot in at the far post, restoring parity for the visitors in the space of fourteen minutes.
One final moment of magic lay in store for me. With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antonio Cassano leading the attack, the ageing Mario Yepes stepped up to clinch a most unlikely match winner.
The aforementioned Cassano scooped the ball to the back post for the Colombian defender to propel himself at. The sound of the ball rippling the back of the net in the Lecce goal to this day still takes my breath away.
With the winner coming in the eighty-third minute I had a few minutes to come to terms with the game that had just transpired. I felt a deeper, more embodied notion of the power of sport and the sense of camaraderie that it entails.
While scores such as these seem far more common place nowadays, this match holds a special place in my memory banks.