APPALLED BY THE stale offerings of Italia ’90, FIFA blazers got together and vowed to make the game more exciting.
They targeted goalkeepers and defenders and, in 1992, implemented the back-pass rule.
It meant no goalkeeper could pick up a pass from a teammate that had been kicked to him, or her, with foot, shin, thigh or knee.
The rule caused chaos in the first couple of years in place and led to lauded goalies such as John Lukic, Bruce Grobelaar and Packie Bonner shanking and slicing backpasses into the stands.
It led to some goalkeepers having to use their head to make a clearance:
YouTube credit: Gary Mabee
The rule meant an indirect free-kick would be awarded if a goalkeeper picked up a backpass from a teammate.
Former Rangers ‘keeper Andy Goram bemused many of his Manchester United colleagues in 2001 when, under no pressure and nine years after the role was introduced, conceded such a free by picking up a backpass.
One man who certainly enjoyed the rule was Newcastle’s Alan Shearer, scorer of many a pile-driver free inside the box:
YouTube credit: Carlooooooooooooooss
Goalkeepers could no longer race out to smother a backpass and use their hands/arms. It meant that a goalie might be forced into a attempted tackle against a forward that often went wrong.
Steven Gerrard’s backpass against Chelsea in 2010 caught his ‘keeper Pepe Reina and commentator Matt Le Tissier by surprise:
YouTube credit: EastBank85
If a goalkeeper did leap into a challenge with too much gusto, penalties were often the result. Red cards were never far away.
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The ultimate in backpass shame would be an overhit effort from a defender that the perplexed goalkeeper would try, and fail, to hoof clear.
Ashley Williams of Swansea takes the honours here against Derby in 2011.
YouTube credit: 199042
Time ticked on and certain teams were learning. Over at Anfield, Liverpool continued to struggle. Martin Skrtel [go to 2:08] is the culprit here against Manchester City but his backpass never had a hope of being picked up:
YouTube credit: GoalsAsTheyGoIn
For the most part, footballers have adapted their game to nullify the rule and we now have ‘keepers that can comfortably deal with a pass hurtling backwards in their direction.
On occasion, however, quick thinking is needed to get the ball back safely to the men in the sticks. Andrei Arshavin, take a bow.
YouTube credit: maestrosky