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A number 11’s love affair with rabonas: The story of Erik Lamela

A number 11’s love affair with rabonas: The story of Erik Lamela

Erik Lamela has been in England’s capital for eight years but he’s still a fairly unknown quantity.  To give him his due, though, the neatly groomed Argentine usually comes across quite determined whenever he turns out for Spurs and he’ll do anything to catch the eye when he plays. Indeed, he is one of those players that does as much as he can to look like a footballer before he crosses the whitewash on match day. You won’t find a hair out of place or an arm without tattoos on it.

If you saw him down your local high street and you didn’t watch football and someone asked you what that particular gentleman did for a living, you would be inclined to say he was a footballer. Of course, it’s not clear if Lamela enjoys shopping or even going out much. As mentioned, we know relatively little about Spurs’ number 11 but what we do know without a shadow of any doubt is that the 29-year-old puts scoring rabona goals above anything else in his life.

The fascination first started back in October 2014 during the playing of a Europa League fixture. Lamela pulled off the outrageous by scoring a rabona from outside the box against Asteras Tripolis. It was a goal of breathtaking beauty and made you cheer it from your living room, regardless of whether you were a Spurs fan or not. But, like most wonderful goals in football, barring Gareth Bale’s bicycle kick in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool, it didn’t count for much in the end. Indeed, Spurs would still be knocked out in the round of 32 but the latest Europa League betting odds suggest that they may be about to make history with Jose Mourinho’s men priced as the favorites to win the competition this time around.

Who can argue with that assessment, given that it does seem like a tournament that Mourinho could win in his sleep, having done it with Manchester United in 2017? His detractors may accuse him of asking his team to play a kind of ‘anti-football’ but, on the continent, opposing teams break like water on rock against his defensive tactics. In any case, if he needs to liven it up at any stage and appease the fans with a bit more flair, he can always count on Erik Lamela for a rabona.

Indeed, following that wonder strike against Asteras Tripolis, the 29-year-old did everything he could to repeat the heroics but nothing came off. Subsequently, he toiled away on the Spurs wing and even tried his hand at being a false nine for Mourinho but, try as he might, he couldn’t replicate that moment of magic again.

That was until he replaced Son Heung-min during the first half of the North London derby in March 2021. The Argentine came on and looked even more agitated than usual in his quest to score another rabona. His first contribution to the game when he came on in the 19th minute was to kick a few Arsenal players and get several tellings-off from the referee.

Then, in the 33rd minute, and after six years of trying, the earth stopped moving as Lamela finally found the back of the net again with a left foot curling behind his standing right leg. With his job done, the Argentine would see red just over half an hour later after receiving a second yellow card. The winger left the pitch with an uncharacteristic spring in his step, for a man that has just been sent off. His team ended up losing to Arsenal.

So, what is it about this type of goal that Lamela loves so much? Perhaps the answer is in the name of the goal which comes from the expression ‘hacerse la rabona’, which means to skip school without your parent’s permission.

Indeed, this type of goal is so forbidden that the 29-year-old can’t stop trying to score it.

Whatever happens going forward for Tottenham Hotspur in the future, they will never employ another number 11 with the same zest for scoring rabonas as Lamela.

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A number 11’s love affair with rabonas: The story of Erik Lamela