Just two days into the 2014 World Cup being played in and Robin van Persie, striker for the Netherlands team, already has a play -- a technically perfect goal shot -- that will undoubtedly remain in contention for "best scoring shot" or "best goal" or something. The goal not only tied the game at the time but would provide the momentum the Dutch team would need to go on and decimate defending world champions Spain.
Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports reported June 13 that it was Robin van Persie's strike that set up a five-point run that would end in Spain's humiliating defeat, 5-1. Rogers noted that "van Persie did a number of small technical things to absolute perfection."
Dutch teammate Jonathan de Guzman said of the play: "That was all about technique. It has to be exact or it just won't work."
The Netherlands lost the 2010 FIFA World Cup to Spain in the championship game, 1-0. Friday's victory might not erase the pain of losing that game, which resulted in Spain's first ever World Cup championship, but trouncing Spain by four goals will undoubtedly provide the Dutch with some bragging room.
Van Persie's header was all about timing, position, awareness, and hitting the ball just right to get the ball past Spain's goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, and into the net. Robin van Persie's leap into the air as the ball descended from its arc from the left sideline, where teammate Daley Blind had just kicked the ball to center it, was nothing short of athletic grace and perfection.
The goal came 14 minutes into the Netherlands vs. Spain game in both teams' first game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The header has become extremely popular on the Internet, prompting memes and GIFs galore. He's gained the nickname of "Flying Dutchman" and various photoshopped images show him as Superman, Batman, a pro wrestler, and Peter Pan.
Van Persie is a striker for Manchester United in the United Kingdom. Coming off of a dismal year for the normally difficult-to-beat Manchester squad, he appears somewhat rejuvenated while playing for his home nation. Manchester United fans can also take heart that his newfound spirit just might be a product of coaching -- and that coach, Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal, will be at Manchester United next season.
But van Persie is focused on the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
"We can't stop here," van Persie said after the win over Spain. "We have to keep going."
The Netherlands next game is on June 18 against Australia.
Teams play three games in the first round (or "group stage") of World Cup soccer. Of the 32 teams (a bracket can be found at ESPN.com), which are sectioned off into four groups of eight teams, two will proceed to the second round, or "knockout stage." This stage consists of a round of 16, the quater-finals, the semi-finals, and the final. The final will be contested and a world champion named on July 13.