Northern Exposure

How an Irish part-timer is battling Messi for world's best goal of 2010

Glentoran striker Matty Burrows is the centre of attention ahead of the Puskas Award announcement tonight.

THE SHORTLIST OF names for FIFA’s top goal of 2010 looks like a who’s-who of world football’s biggest stars.

Argentine magician Lionel Messi is among the 10 nominations, as is Dutch wing-wizard Arjen Robben, Brazilian wonder-kid Neymar and French midfield maestro Samir Nasri.

Yet, when the winner of the Puskas award, named after Hungary’s legendary striker Ferenc Puskas, is announced at a gala ceremony in Zurich tonight, all those stellar stars could well be playing second fiddle to a 25-year-old Northern Irishman who still harbors dreams of making a full-time living from the beautiful game.

Burrows describes himself as an “out-and-out striker, a penalty box forward, in the mould of former England star Michael Owen” — and his statistics certainly indicate that he knows where the net is.

He has scored 16 goals from 14 starts in the Irish Premier League so far this season, but his injury time winner against rivals Portadown in October is the reason why he will be rubbing shoulders with the world’s greatest players at world football’s most glamorous awards presentation.

“Although we are not geographical rivals, Glentoran and Portadown don’t like each other very much,” Burrows told CNN. “It was still 0-0 and, to be honest, I would have been happy with a tap-in from close range.”

But what followed was to change Burrows’ life. A late Glentoran attack saw a regulation cross floated in from the left.

Burrows, with his back to goal, was first to the ball and managed to generate enough power with an outrageous back- flick of his foot to see the ball loop over the goalkeeper and into the net.

Read more at CNN

TheScore will have the result when it’s announced later tonight.

Which is your favourite goal of those nominated?