Sky Sports Vault
In February 2011, Wayne Rooney settled the Manchester derby in United's favour with an extraordinary strike. Sky Sports Vault rounds up reactions and reflections on one of the Premier League's most famous moments.
By Jon Holmes - @jonboy79
Last Updated: 20/09/13 5:14pm
It's Manchester derby time again on Super Sunday, with City hosting United at the Etihad Stadium. Our Vault selection this week remains relatively fresh in our memories - but it's already gone down in legend at Old Trafford.
As always, we'd love to hear your suggestions so let us know what you'd like us to search for in the Vault by leaving a comment below, or you can tweet us on @SkyFootball using the hashtag #skysportsvault.
Former Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis wrote in his 1998 autobiography 'Deadly!' that he invented the bicycle kick whilst on the books of Tranmere Rovers as a schoolboy.
It's a bold claim to say the least, particularly as the first documented use of this athletic artform was in 1932 - when young Doug was only eight years old.
Unsurprisingly, the location for the birth of the bicycle kick was not Birkenhead but Brazil, where an 18-year-old called Leonidas da Silva produced such an acrobatic finish in a match in Rio de Janeiro. He repeated the feat on several occasions later in his career, including at the 1938 World Cup in France in which he finished as top scorer. According to contemporary reports, several Parisian women fainted at the sight of this sinew-stretching exploit, while many garcons hurt themselves in attempts to replicate it.
Whether Wayne Rooney sent anyone at Old Trafford on a cold afternoon in February 2011 swooning in the stands is unclear, although he almost certainly inspired a few imitators who suffered subsequent injuries. His bicycle kick in the Manchester derby two-and-a-half years ago is arguably his finest individual contribution to the United cause, and in a week when he advanced past the 200 goals milestone for the Red Devils, it is fully deserving of another turn in the spotlight.
Here, Sky Sports Vault documents a range of opinions and memories of that extra-special Rooney moment...
United came into the game on the back of a surprise 2-1 defeat at Wolves, while City hadn't won on their travels since Boxing Day. Rooney was preferred in a lone attacking role to Dimitar Berbatov, who would be the more prolific of the two strikers that season.
Nani had netted an excellent opener shortly before the break, but David Silva cancelled it out in fortuitous circumstances on 65 minutes.
Vincent Kompany had marked Rooney expertly all game, but with just under a quarter of an hour remaining, Paul Scholes fed the ball right for Nani, who looked up and spotted Rooney...
"Nani curls a pass over the top of the City defence towards me, his cross deflecting off a defender (Pablo Zabaleta), taking some speed off it.
"I see a space opening up in the penalty area. City's two man-mountain centre-halves, Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany, move and get ready for the incoming pass. I run into a few yards of space, guessing where the ball will land. My senses are all over the place.
"The deflection has changed the shape of Nani's pass, sending it higher than I thought, which buys me an extra second to shift into position and re-adjust my balance, to think: I'm having a go at this.
"My legs are knackered, but I use all the strength I have to spring from the back of my heels, swinging my right leg over my left shoulder in mid-air to bang the cross with an overhead kick, an acrobatic volley. It's an all or nothing hit that I know will make me look really stupid if I spoon it.
"But I don't.
"I make good contact with the ball and it fires into the top corner; I feel it, but I don't see it. As I twist in mid-air, trying to follow the flight of my shot, I can't see where the ball has gone, but the sudden roar of noise tells me I've scored.
"I've bagged hundreds of goals... but this one is extra special.
"As I jog back to the centre circle, still tingling, I go into rewind. It's ridiculous, I know, but I'm worried I might never feel this way again. I want to remember what's just happened, to relive the moment over and over because it feels so good."
Extract from 'Wayne Rooney: My Decade in the Premier League', 2012
I can't ever remember a better goal at Old Trafford. I haven't seen anything like it, that's for sure.
It reminded me of Denis Law - although whether Denis ever put them in with such ferocity, I'm not so sure.
Rooney hit a volley against Newcastle some years ago and it was with that kind of ferocity. Yes, we've had some fantastic goals here, but in terms of execution... well, you'll never see another like that.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Rio Ferdinand missed the Manchester derby that afternoon due to a calf injury, but was watching on from his executive box at Old Trafford. He shared his thoughts on Rooney's goal via Twitter...
That bicycle kick was one dirty strike...POW...what a strike what a goal what a netbuster!!- Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) February 12, 2011
Martin Tyler: "ROONEY! ... it defies description! How about sensational? How about superb?"
Alan Smith: "It is absolutely spectacular. It's one in a million from Wayne Rooney... how about that, to win a derby?! Never will he strike a better ball, and score a better goal, than this..."
I can't really rank all of the goals I've seen in all my years of commentating, but I very much stand by what I said on the day - it defies description.
It WAS sensational. It WAS superb. It was a wonderful moment - and one that showed great timing from the player, both in terms of his technique and also in the context of the match.
A goal like that could have been lost in a big win for Manchester United, so it was fitting that it turned out to be a winning goal.
Martin Tyler, Sky Sports
The frustration on the terraces was rife that day. We were really toiling to find a winner after City's fortunate equaliser. When Nani whipped that cross into the box, it took a slight deflection (like most of his centres even to this day, it was wayward) but somehow Rooney stretched out a foot and connected. And after that, it was pure rapture.
In truth, until that moment, it had all been a bit of an anti-climax, particularly after the previous season's pulsating derby win in the league. But Rooney's acrobatics triggered scenes reminiscent of those when Owen scored in the 4-3 at Old Trafford.
The goal and the manner in which it was scored took us all by surprise, and only served to increase the delirium. Was it off his shin? Even if it was, it is one of the best goals any United fan is ever likely to see down at M16, and what better occasion to produce such brilliance than in the dying moments of a derby.
Peter Hall, Manchester United season-ticket holder
"Rooney might never fulfil the greatest expectations people had of him when they saw him as a teenage prodigy, and his status is hovering between 'very good' and 'great' as a player, a long way behind those modern kings of the game, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. But he came up with a single moment that Messi and Ronaldo may never top."
Jonathan Northcroft, The Sunday Times
"There is no longer a sense of destiny about Rooney's rise as a great English footballer. But packed inside him still is an ability to transcend the pressure of a tight match with a daring act. For five seconds, he was no longer the star who fell to earth - but the Croxteth schoolboy rising above mortal constraints."
Paul Hayward, The Observer
"Goals pay the rent, as David Coleman famously observed, and Wayne Rooney certainly helps out with the overheads. His phenomenal bicycle kick was more than a touch of class to settle a local scrap. It might have decided a national dispute... this felt a 'name on the trophy' moment... it shimmered with significance."
Henry Winter, The Daily Telegraph
The victory took Ferguson's side eight points clear of City, with a game in hand - and they would not falter in the run-in. Three months later, United were crowned champions for the 19th time in their history, matching Liverpool; they finished nine points clear of Chelsea, who edged out City for second spot due to a superior goal difference.
Rooney's goal was one of 10 from the whole of 2011 to be nominated for the FIFA Puskas Goal of the Year award. However, it would lose out to a solo slalom effort scored by Neymar in Santos' 5-4 Brasileiro home defeat by Flamengo.
However, in May 2012, fans voted Rooney's strike as the Premier League's greatest-ever goal to date, in awards to mark 20 years of the competition. Rooney took 26% of the public vote, beating Arsenal duo Dennis Bergkamp (v Newcastle, 2001-02) and Thierry Henry (v Man Utd, 2000-01) into second and third place respectively.
Naturally, Rooney considers it to be the best goal he's ever scored - the combination of style, power and importantly context, all coming together in one perfect moment. He'll never tire of seeing it again - and wherever we place it in our own lists of greatest goals ever scored, none of us are ever likely to forget it.
Watch Manchester City v Manchester United on Sky Sports 1 HD on Sunday, from 3.30pm.