Football is essentially a game won by the team who scores the most number of goals.
It is usually the forwards who make the headlines and get all the appreciation in the modern game, but defending is an underrated art: brilliant goal-line clearances and perfectly timed tackles are equally deserving of accolades if not more.
Merih Demiral pulled off a sensational goal-line clearance for Turkey against Serbia in a UEFA Nations League game last night.
As the ball was crossed into the box from the left flank, Serbian substitute Dusan Vlahovic rose the highest in the area to head the ball towards goal.
Though Turkish goalkeeper Mert Günok was rooted to the spot, Demiral was the quickest to react as he cleared the goal-bound ball off the goal line.
The passage of play happened at a time when the two teams were deadlocked at 2-2, and the headlines from the match could have been a lot different if the Juventus defender wasn’t at the right place at the right time.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw as Turkey managed to salvage a point from the game, thanks to Demiral’s heroics in his own box.
The 22-year-old is one of his country’s elite talents, currently plying his trade in the Italian Serie A for champions Juventus.
His heroics from last night will only add to his already growing credentials to compete for a starting spot at the centre-back position for new Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo.
The Turin outfit might have a few of the best attacking talents in the world right now along with an all-time footballing great in Cristiano Ronaldo, but Pirlo would be looking to tighten up proceedings at the back to fulfil their objective of the highest priority: to win the coveted holy grail of European football once again.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s iconic quote still stands credible in a generation obsessed with fantastic forwards, “an attack wins you games, but defence wins you trophies.”