Former Manchester United midfielder Anderson has been reflecting on what was going through his head as he limbered up to take a sudden death penalty during his side’s Champions League final win over Chelsea in 2008.
The Brazilian replaced Wes Brown during the dying stages of extra time with penalties in mind and had the chance to balance the scores after John Terry missed a spot-kick that would have sent the trophy back to London.
He took a lengthy run-up and, with Petr Cech diving to the right, launched the ball high into middle of the goal; Salomon Kalou then scored, as did Ryan Giggs in reply, before Edwin van der Saar made the crucial save from Nicolas Anelka
And Anderson, who left United in 2015, told Radio Grenal that his nerves were uncontrollable when walking up to the spot in the Moscow rain.
“I came on to take the penalty,” he said.
“I hadn’t touched the ball. I was sitting on the bench, Giggs looked and said like this: ‘Get Anderson to take one.’ I said ‘Oh my.’ I was 20 at the time.
“The history of the club in my hands! I would not take it! I’m joking. I went. How couldn’t I? I didn’t touch the ball. I got there, Ferguson saying ‘Come, come, come.’ He put me in, the game finished and I said ‘Oh my God.’
“I took the ball. It was the longest walk of my life. Even when I came from Azenha to Gremio, it was the longest walk I ever saw. I came with the ball, there is no way I wouldn’t be shaking. I was already shaking. I was terrified. The story of a club, and our fans were on that side.
“I went to the ball, I got the ball, I looked at that goalkeeper, who is a giant. Cech opened his arms. I said, ‘oh, I’m f*****.’ I’ll kick it hard, close my eyes and pray for the ball to go in. Then I took three, four steps, I closed my eyes and the ball passed just by his hand.”
Looking back at it, you can tell Anderson was absolutely s***ing himself. Then again, that final happened almost ten years ago, and I still can’t watch back the penalties without feeling tremors of nervousness myself.
He runs at it almost as if the ball might explode on impact: clearly unsure and terrified and yet, after some frantic deliberation, determined to just get it over and done with.
In the end, the ball crashed into the net, and United fans suddenly believed. It was undoubtedly his most feared kick of the ball in a red shirt, but it was also his most important.