For soccer fans of a certain age, recollections of the USA ‘94 World Cup will likely include at least two penalty kicks that failed to find the target.
The first of those memorable misses was taken by Diana Ross in the opening ceremony, to great amusement. The second — blazed over the crossbar by Italy’s Roberto Baggio in the final shootout — ultimately settled the tournament in Brazil’s favor.
A more joyful moment occurred in the quarterfinal between Brazil and the Netherlands, when Bebeto scored in a 3-2 victory and then produced a baby-cradling goal celebration that would later be considered one of the most iconic in football history.
That happy marking of a new-born was back in vogue last weekend in the Women’s Super League in England after Shanice van de Sanden — one of the greatest Dutch players of all time — netted for her club Liverpool in a 4-0 home win over Brighton.
It was back in June that the striker and her girlfriend, Tatjana Jempormiasse, announced via Instagram they were expecting their first child together.
Van de Sanden had won the UEFA Women’s Euro with the Netherlands on home soil in 2017 and also represented her country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. As reported by Outsports at the time, she was part of “objectively the gayest squad” in the women’s tournament at those Games and represented proudly as its “preeminent butch icon”.
She jetted back to Holland last week to be there for the arrival of her baby girl and, having returned to England, she started Sunday’s match and then scored the Reds’ second goal just before half-time at Prenton Park, followed by her ‘Bebeto’ celebration and her delighted teammates mobbing her.
“The girls said to me in training: ‘If you score, you have to do that celebration’. I should have scored a hat-trick today but I’ll save that for another week!” Van de Sanden told the Liverpool Echo post-match.
It’s been a somewhat challenging second stint on Merseyside for the 31-year-old — she was also at Liverpool for the 2016/17 campaign, before moving on to Lyon in France where she won multiple trophies.
Injuries limited her involvement with the Reds last season and she ended up missing out on the Netherlands squad that took part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in July and August.
But she is now back with the national team and with the new arrival and her club prospering in fifth place after eight WSL games, things are looking up. “When you’re happy off the pitch, you show it on the pitch as well,” she added to the Echo.
“My body feels great at the moment. Obviously, it was a tough start (to life at Liverpool) but I’m someone who stays positive and keeps positive thoughts in my mind.
“When you have a tough time, you shouldn’t be negative in your mind. So I’m really happy I was able to score a goal for the team and for my baby girl.”
After the final whistle last Sunday, she even repeated the baby cradle celebration — but this time with teammate Taylor Hinds in her arms.
Van de Sanden will aim to get more time to be with her partner and their new baby after the Netherlands’ UEFA Women’s Nations League Group 1 games against England at Wembley this Saturday, and against Belgium in Tilburg on December 5, with Liverpool’s next match on December 10 when they host Bristol City.