Nineteen years ago, Shaun Bartlett scored a goal. But that was not the end of it. The strike went on to be named as the Premier League goal of the season.
Even today, Charlton are having a competition on social media to decide the club’s best ever goal. Bartlett’s strike against Leicester has made the final four. Nineteen anniversaries and counting.
“People still remember it,” Bartlett tells Sky Sports.
There are volleys and then there are volleys. As the ball came over Bartlett’s shoulder in the left channel, nobody could have expected a connection as clean as the one that came.
Not even Bartlett.
“My first thought was to strike it and see what happens,” he recalls.
“You have to go with your first thought. If your first thought is to strike it then do it. Do not hesitate or doubt yourself. Nine times out of 10 that would hit someone behind the goal but this time it came off perfectly, the contact, the power and the direction.”
However, that is not to say that this was pure luck.
“It was the culmination of what we had done that week,” adds Bartlett.
“Keith Peacock was the assistant manager at the time and he used to do a lot of training with us specifically on technique and movement, certain patterns that would help the team.
“It was no coincidence me peeling away from the defender, but, when I watch it back, neither the defender nor the goalkeeper expected it.”
The defender he peeled away from was Gary Rowett. The goalkeeper who saw the ball arrowing past him into the far corner of his net was Simon Royce. Curiously, both players were to go on to become Charlton team-mates of Bartlett’s.
Did he ever remind them of the goal?
“Over and over,” he admits. “It never stopped.”
Bartlett went on to spend six seasons at Charlton, the club’s only six Premier League seasons that did not end in relegation. It was a glorious period for the club under Alan Curbishley and a success right from the start for Bartlett following his move from Swiss club FC Zurich.
The South Africa international even marked his home debut with two goals in a come-from-behind 3-3 draw against Premier League champions Manchester United.
“I had only been with the club a few weeks and I was thrown in at the deep end,” he says.
“It was a bit of time before the really cold weather came but that was nothing unusual for me because I had come from Switzerland which was even colder with a lot of snow.
“What surprised me was the pace of the Premier League. In those early games, I was usually substituted midway through the second half because the pace was unbelievably fast. It was 100 miles an hour, non-stop action. It took me around three months to get used to it.
“Having Mark Fish at the club helped me settle a bit faster because he was another South African who had signed a month earlier. That made adapting that bit easier.”
Now 47, Bartlett remains in touch with several team-mates from his Charlton days, including Rowett, Jason Euell and Chris Powell, but he is now back in South Africa working as an assistant manager at his old club Kaizer Chiefs. They were on course for a first league title in five years when the coronavirus crisis called a halt to the campaign.
By Sky Sports
*The story was edited