Shaun Bartlett still gets goosebumps when thinking about the incredible goal he scored for Charlton 20 years ago on this day.
The magnificent volley against Leicester on April 1, 2001 at The Valley went on to win Premier League goal of the season – beating a rather spectacular strike by Thierry Henry to the prize.
The former South Africa international announced his arrival to English football in quite some style that season.
His home debut saw him score twice against a star-studded Manchester United team in a thrilling 3-3 draw as well as a winner at Stamford Bridge.
But it was his goal against Leicester that still makes him remembered by English football fans up and down the country two decades on.
Peeling off Gary Rowett, Bartlett found himself just inside the 18-yard box and smashed Graeme Stuart’s pass into the bottom corner past a helpless Simon Royce.
“To be honest, it still gives me goosebumps,” Bartlett told talkSPORT.com on the anniversary of the strike this week. “Whenever with Charlton, and certain websites, every year on April 1 will tweet it and say ‘on this day in April, 2001 this happened at The Valley against Leicester’.
“Every time I see it, it still gives me goosebumps. To think it’s 20 years, it’s beyond me. I don’t feel like it’s 20 years ago nor do I feel 20 years older.
“For me, it’s great to be remembered still in England for that goal.”
There are volleys – and then there are *these* volleys
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 25, 2017
Remarkably, it was not something that was a fluke. The Charlton players had identified a weakness in the Leicester defence and exploited it to perfection on the day.
“A lot of people think it’s on the day something that I pulled off. It was something we actually trained during the week with the assistant manager Keith Peacock,” Bartlett continued.
“We recognised that in the Leicester defence that was one of the weaknesses. I still had a bit of speed and to create that bit of space was the most important thing to score a goal.
“When Graeme Stuart got the ball, the first thing that came to mind was what we did in training and it was to create the bit of space, peel away from Gary Rowett, after that it was see what I could do.
“Any striker, the first thought that comes in your mind is – got to do it. Otherwise you start doubting yourself and in two minds and end up not doing either.
“As the ball came, I had one thing in my mind and that was to strike it. Nine out of ten times it would have hit somebody in the stands.
“Fortunately for me, the technique was great, on the right part of my left foot, and the goalkeeper Simon Royce was surprised that I took it first time.
“When you see the replays, he was setting himself for a first touch then a strike on goal. By the time he was setting himself, he saw the ball coming past him.
“When the ball hit the back of the net, you could even see part of my celebration, I was a little surprised.”
Bartlett won Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season prize, which was a remarkable achievement considering the candidates he was up against.
Goal of the Season nominations
Bartlett certainly beat some stunners to the prize
Mario Stanic – Chelsea vs West Ham – August 19, 2000
Thierry Henry – Arsenal vs Charlton – August 26, 2000
Paul Scholes – Man United vs Sunderland – September 9, 2000
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink – Man United vs Chelsea – September 23, 2000
Thierry Henry – Arsenal vs Man United – October 1, 2000
Paul Dickov – Man City vs Bradford – October 14, 2000
Teddy Sheringham – Man United vs Southampton – October 28, 2000
Stan Collymore – Bradford vs Leeds – October 29, 2000
Teddy Sheringham – Derby vs Man United – November 25, 2000
Steven Gerrard – Liverpool vs Southampton – January 1, 2001
Steven Gerrard – Liverpool vs Man United – March 31, 2001
Robert Pires – Arsenal vs Tottenham – March 31, 2001
Shaun Bartlett – Charlton vs Leicester – April 1, 2001
Sylvin Wiltord – Arsenal vs Everton – April 21, 2001
Kevin Kilbane – Southampton vs Sunderland – April 28, 2001
Christian Karembeu – Bradford vs Middlesbrough – May 5, 2001
Matt Le Tissier – Southampton vs Arsenal – May 19, 2001
There was a Mario Stanic wonder goal that included keepy-ups and a volley, a Paul Scholes thunderbolt and two Steven Gerrard signature piledrivers.
Also included was Thierry Henry’s special strike against Man United where he flicked the ball up and fired it over the head of Fabian Barthez and into the top corner.
Bartlett beat them all to the award.
20 years since this happened. Wow how times flies heyhttps://t.co/2oyTl6BA4S
— ShaunBartlett17 (@shaunbart9) April 1, 2021
When asked if that made it even more special, he said: “Without a doubt. The hardest thing for me was trying to convince my boys actually what I achieved.
“Even a few years after it happened, I would go on YouTube and show them the names I beat for Goal of the Season and then I’d get a bit of a smile and recognition, I think they were my hardest critics as far as convincing I did win the best goal in the Premier League in 2001.”