Carlo de Leeuw and his goal in the 1980 cup final

Carlo de Leeuw. "And then maybe your finest moment in your career, that goal …" In Feyenoord TV, Carlo de Leeuw is quietly enjoying it many years later. A hit that "suddenly" falls in the 71st minute.

'Yes. The goal in itself was nothing. I think it was from a corner. The ball is rejected, the ball is reinserted. Nielsen continues on the left. I am on the right, because I had taken the corner. And he comes before, he goes past everyone and he comes before my judge. Well, my right leg is not my strongest. Well, I hit it … I hit him, but not really great. But he invades. "

It is a pleasure to watch, the sympathetic Feyenoord material man who beams back in time to this indeed memorable moment. But as is so often the case with memories, they don't quite add up. Between that corner from the right and that cross from the left is a full minute with a failed attack by both teams.

It's a throw-in after that that starts it all. Feyenoord combines well in midfield via Brard, Pétursson and Van Deinsen. The latter tries to play with a nice kick to Nielsen, which is indeed where you would expect De Leeuw. It stayed on the right for more than a minute. He wouldn't regret it.

Nielsen is not reached at first, because right midfielder Schoenaker taps the ball away from him. Frank Janssen tries the same with Pétursson and it goes wrong. It is called "A too soft back-play ball" in De Telegraaf, but that is not the correct description. The most you can say is that he doesn't fill it up enough to turn it into a corner. He hands it in to Ivan Nielsen. He gave a cross, probably with the intention of reaching Jan Peters.

From Ajaxkeeper Piet Schrijvers you can ask yourself whether his contribution here is not a bit meager. He was 32 years old, an experienced goalkeeper, but here he walks somewhat awkwardly into his own goal and then tries with his right leg – almost backwards, it looks a bit scared – to turn that shot by De Leeuw. He does, but only behind the goal line.

Ruud Krol at the first post and Peter Boeve at the second are a step short. Carlo de Leeuw is the only one who gets a foot against it. The wrong foot, because his left is the best. But today that right is much left. Better than the best. He hits it and he makes it. His own description of his role in this is too modest. It's not that simple either: just the little bit that is needed.

De Leeuw roars and cheers exuberantly, falls with his hands up on his knees in front of the exploding section S. Peters, Pétursson and Wijnstekers fall around his neck. That is too much for the young football player, who falls over. "There were my friends," he would repeatedly say in interviews. He always mentioned tears in his eyes.

"Don't ask me about other matches I have played, because I really don't remember," laughs De Leeuw as he describes the goosebumps and the full stadium. "And in the comment they mention the wrong name that scored also … They say Jan van Deinsen, while it was me. " It comes with friendly, forgiving twinkling eyes and a crooked, playful smile on the mouth.

The 1980 cup final is the only thing Carlo de Leeuw kept on video. On an outdated Betamax tape, which he could no longer play. When he told this to the Rotterdams Dagblad in 2008, the phone soon rang. Someone called who worked for a company that transfers old tapes to DVD. "I was able to watch the game for the first time a few months ago," said the man who had nearly seen Abraham.

Naturally, Carlo watched the footage when he had it on DVD. "I have to say that it was not disappointing," he said. "I had some nice promotions. Little loss of ball, a few heels. I played against Piet Wijnberg, that went reasonably well. Very nice to see it again. "

De Leeuw was not a show-off. "Recently they showed some old images of me on television. All my highlights together last about 2.45 minutes. " That self-deprecation did not stop the later equipment man from hanging a picture of himself in his "shoe shed", cheering after that goal. "The cup was really a top prize for us in 1980," said Carlo in 2008. And about the penalty: "I was tapped by Wijnberg and fell. It was a fair one. I know because I just saw the images again. "

When I wrote my book Better than the best, the choice was very conscious: seventeen chapters and a sales price of seventeen euros. As a tribute. Because seventeen was the shirt number of this then so young left winger, who died in February 2020. That one goal in that one cup final, against Ajax. Unforgettable.

Gerard Tuk

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