With all the attention paid to AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko and Barcelona's Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o prior to Tuesday's European Champions League semifinal, Ludovic Giuly barely was mentioned.
Yet the veteran France forward was the one to beat an offside trap and send a left-footed shot past Milan goalkeeper Dida in the 57th minute for Barcelona's 1-0 win.
At 29, Giuly has reached the point in his career where he can't play a full 90 minutes anymore.
"He worked very hard in the first half. I asked (at halftime) if he had maybe 15 more minutes in him and he replied that he had 20," Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard said. "I checked my watch after he scored and it was just under 20 minutes into the half. Maybe this was what he had in mind."
Roma is his destination, with the two clubs having agreed a deal worth 3.2 million euros with possible additional payments of up to 1.2 million.
Ludo was apparently told that he was surplus to the club's requirements at the end of the 06-07 season, given the club's intentions of promoting promising young attacker Gio Dos Santos into the first team, and the steady rise of Leo Messi. I'm glad that a satisfactory settlement has been arrived at that seems to suit all parties, and Giuly departs in the same good spirit he always maintained in his time at the club.
The official website has a comprehensive article about the Frenchman's years at Barca. He joined as part of the 04-05 revolution which bought in 8 other players and which gave the fans two years of fun, games, (an astonishing number of knee and muscle injuries), trophies and some bloody good football. During his time at the club he was well regarded within the dressing room for his cheery demeanour and for being a good squad player who would perform when called upon but also sit on the bench without much complaint.
Giuly had one great season and two more fairly good ones for us, but the one thing I'll always remember him for is the brilliant strike against Milan at the San Siro, which is of course the subject of the AP article quoted above. It sent Barca into the final, which allowed us to finally bring Big Ears home again after a too-long drought. There's no way to really articulate how much that means to us supporters.
Actually, no, I lied. Here's something else I remember lividly about Giuly: the tears in his eyes as he wandered around the pitch with his little boy on his shoulders after the Champions League final, finally triumphant after the painful defeat to Porto two years earlier when he was the captain of Monaco.
Good luck, Ludo. And thank you for the memories.
(Incidentally, I'm working on a post about Rijkaard's 04-05 and 05-06 team. Quite a number out of the 27 who participated in those two seasons have departed now, and they deserve a tribute.)