Germany’s Second Goal (Unknown Artist)

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This painting fascinates me: why would anyone choose to paint the moment of Germany’s second goal against England in the 1966 World Cup Final that England went on to win 4-2. If you were English, why focus on the German goal? If you were German, why choose a moment that so vividly reminds you that your team didn’t win the World Cup? What is it about that second German goal that is so artistically inspiring?

And then there’s the place I discovered it: nailed to the wall of the football pavilion at Hebron School, hidden under a sheet of dust and behind a pile of worn out sports equipment. I persuaded the Sportsmaster to let me have it — the artist had long since left the school — and have had it ever since, but never really with anywhere to actually put it. Until yesterday, when in the course of our reorganising of the space in our house, it went up on the wall in the living room.

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Photographic evidence confirms the painting’s accuracy

Upon further research I discover that the second German goal, scored by Wolfgang Weber, was an equalizer in the last minute of normal time. Which means that this goal would have inspired a euphoric rush of hope-filled adrenaline for the German supporters. Whereas for the English fans it would have catalysed a surge of nervous frustration. What is more, the goal was controversial — Banks, the English goalkeeper, claimed that the ricocheting ball had been hit by a German hand in the run-up to the goal.

So this was the goal that took the match to extra time. But, as we know, England went on to score two goals in those thirty minutes of extra time (one even more controversial), and become world champions. Meaning this painted second goal was ultimately futile.

Futile perhaps, but not forgotten. That is the artist’s declaration in preserving this moment. Which means that this painting is a poetic tribute to life’s haphazard frustrations.

As it is written:
The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.

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