During the heat of battle in a Saudi Premier league match, between Al Nahdha and Al Ittihad, something beautiful happened followed by something terrible followed by something even more beautiful, and all in the space of one minute.
A four goal bonanza had the game evenly balanced with the teams drawing 2-2 early in the second half. Al Nahdha’s goalkeeper Taisir Al Antaif was holding the ball inside the edge of his penalty box and was struggling with a loose lace from his boot. If he kicked the ball the boot might fly off. The keeper could not put the ball down, take his gloves off, tie his laces, put the gloves back on, pick up the ball and play on. The opposition striker knew this too.
So Al Ittihad’s little Brazilian striker Jóbson Leandro Pereira de Oliveira, ran towards his opposition keeper, honourably knelt down before the keeper and tied the keeper’s laces – allowing the keeper to get on with the game. Then something terrible happened. The referee decided that the keeper had wasted time and gave a free kick against the keeper on the edge of the box.
Then something beautiful happened. Al Ittihad’s free kick taker, Leandro Bonfim gently kicked the ball wide of the post on purpose. Although he is a new player to the club, he embraced the Jeddah football club atmosphere of sportsmanship as did the crowd. Supporters form both teams applauded the Bonfirm’s decision to effectively resume the game where they left it before the boot-lace moment.
The game resumed at 2-2. The crowd cheered. The beautiful game became stronger, thanks to a Saudi keeper, a Brazilian duo and a Saudi crowd, united in the brotherhood of football.
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