Donna Vekic suffers mid-air fright ahead of Guadalajara victory
Donna Vekic could only stare in horror as the plane went by. She had expected a quick return to Europe. In the past week, however, she had become accustomed to playing on the right wing, the first goalkeepers’ nightmare. Only the goalkeeper could play in the middle of the pitch – and that was where Vekic played.
Vekic had been on the plane with team-mate Milorad Matic and had been watching her team-mate from the bench. As she looked on in amazement, she saw a young man fly off the edge of the right wing. He did not appear to be injured. It was only after he fell through the air that she realised she was missing.
A few minutes later, she recalled, Matic touched the ball and she darted into the penalty area.
“I knew I was going to score, but I didn’t know if it was going to be the first or the sixth goal. I thought it was going to be the sixth. I didn’t know what was going on”.
It was almost seven minutes until the final whistle. She ran onto the pitch, tears streaming down her face, to celebrate Mexico’s first World Cup title.
Vekic is not even the only goalkeeper who has had to adapt to an unusual role. After the first round, I asked a number of team-mates who had been out of their usual spot or dropped out of the line-up and they all pointed to Matic or Vekic.
At this point, many wondered aloud whether such players should stick with clubs that allowed them to keep their spots, after what they had been through. And one or two of us asked why teams did not simply allow their players to leave the club if they were unhappy at the end of the season.
Vekic, however, has been allowed to leave the club as she did not want to play. As a goalkeeper, she said, a player can drop out of the team in the middle of the season if he does not “like the treatment at the club”.
This is not a unique situation in any sport. When players choose which