Before Cheltenham Town defender Ben Tozer leapt like a salmon and produced the greatest goal-line clearance in football history against Manchester City, there had been a genuine debate over who had done it best.
David Luiz’s sliding block against Spain? John Stones’ title-defining save in a victory over Liverpool in 2019?
Well, stick all of those iconic moments in the bin, and make space for the most glorious last-ditch stop you will ever see in our sport.
Cheltenham defender Tozer wrote his name into football folklore on Saturday evening by producing the ultimate diving header save against Premier League giants Man City in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
It’s good news for the Robins, given they had recently shot to fame for allowing Newport County goalkeeper Tom King to score directly from a goal-kick, breaking a Guinness World Record in the process.
We’re not here to talk about that again, however. The real act of heroism arrived in the 12th minute of the tie at Whaddon Road, as the League Two outfit were looking to keep their hungry opponents at bay.
A whipped cross from the right was initially turned away from danger by Tozer himself, but his backtracking flicked header could only lay the ball into the path of the onrushing Benjamin Mendy.
The Frenchman’s eyes lit up at the prospect of thwacking a left-footed pile driver as hard as humanly possible towards the net, and he duly obliged.
Mendy has probably never struck a ball so sweetly in his life. The shot cannoned off his left boot, thudding and arrowing towards the top corner of the Cheltenham net. Heartbreak.
But one man said, “Not today, Benajamin. Not today.” Tozer had sensed this missile beaming towards his side of the net, and instinctively began to fall back towards the line. As predicted, the ball rifled towards the defender, who threw himself instinctively into the line of fire without a second thought.
The 30-year-old placed his head in the way of the cannonball, and took the full force of Mendy’s effort. Somehow, Tozer not only managed to block a certain goal from almost underneath the crossbar, but he also deflected the rocket up and out for a corner kick.
His Cheltenham teammates rushed to congratulate him, but the Man of the Match shrugged off the plaudits and urged his troops to get organised – like any real hero would. In the end, the spirited 3-1 defeat could have rendered Tozer’s unbelievable clearance as pointless, but that is not the case.
His split second of inspiration will be remembered by millions for years to come.