Hyundai A-League Magic Moments: Archie Thompson

There are some moments in sport which seem to transcend reality, where schoolboy fantasy and adult reality mix to produce something so utterly memorable that it convinces those who witnessed it that they will never see something like that again.

There are some moments in sport which seem to transcend reality, where schoolboy fantasy and adult reality mix to produce something so utterly memorable that it convinces those who witnessed it that they will never see something like that again.

Archie Thompson has always had a little bit of the schoolboy about him, even at the age of 30. A cheeky grin and an endless enthusiasm for the game have Thompson feeling no different now then when he made his NSL debut with the Gippsland Falcons 13 years ago. On more than one occasion he has produced feats which sit in the purely fantastical and the reality is that no matter how Thompson is remembered as a player, his name will live on in the history books for years to come.

It was on April 11, 2001 that Thompson first etched his name into not only Australian football history, but the annals of the world game globally. He scored a mind-boggling 13 goals in a World Cup qualifier for Australia against American Samoa, setting a new mark for an international match which is very unlikely to ever be broken.

Given the quality of that opposition, Thompson is reluctant to talk about that infamous night in Coffs Harbour. Understandably, he doesn't want to be remembered as the '13-goal guy'. Six years later on a streamy night in Melbourne, he managed to do something which put his goalscoring spree for the Socceroos into the post-script of his career.

The build up to the 2007 Hyundai A-League Grand Final had been a cracker, with Melbourne Victory booking a home Grand Final only after a goal from James Robinson in injury time of a tense Major Semi-Final. The Reds were expected to come at the Victory hard and given the two shared a strong rivalry, the scene was set for an epic. For Thompson it was his chance at atonement after failing to score against Adelaide in any of their previous encounters.

"All week, I was so excited about the game. I just wanted to really stamp my mark on a final. I don't think I'd ever been part of a Grand Final since I was a wee man," Thompson recalled this week. "I really wanted to make sure I had a special game and it would be something I remember."

To say Thompson's game was special is a gross understatement. Fed brilliantly by dynamic Brazilian midfielder Fred, he had two goals to his name within the first half an hour. When Adelaide captain Ross Aloisi was shown a red card on 34 minutes, it was clear it was going to be Melbourne's night.

Thompson confirmed this when skipper Kevin Muscat slotted a clever pass and he finished beautifully on the left to make it 3-0 at the break.

"I was speaking to Danny Allsopp and he mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there was a place that I should visit, and today I visited it, I think it was called 'the zone'," Thompson said at the time.

Well, Thompson stayed in the zone, making it 4-0 when he latched onto Fred's long pass, rounded goalkeeper Daniel Beltrame 10 minutes into the second half. After a day where the temperature reached close to 40 degrees, it then started to rain. The sight of rain falling at a stadium where there was a roof was truly surreal, but it didn't deter Thompson's quest for a fifth.

On 72 minutes, Fred had broken down the left and picked out Allsopp at the near post. Sensing Thompson's presence behind him, Allsopp let the ball roll through to his strike partner who made it 5-0, sending the 55,436 at the stadium into delirium.

Thompson still pays tribute to Fred for helping him to that stunning haul, with the Brazilian playing a role in the build up to each of the five goals.

"He was incredible. Fred, I owe a lot to for making that day special," he said.

Thompson departed on 90 minutes to a standing ovation. He was the Joe Marston Medallist as best on ground, but Melbourne wasn't finished. The man who replaced him, Kristian Sarkies, made it 6-0 with a brutal shot in the final seconds.

Thompson said this week it was hard to fathom his feelings during and after that match. Such were the extraordinary circumstances, it was almost too much to absorb. Having revisited the feeling of success with a 1-0 win over Adelaide in last season's Grand Final, he said that the recent experience was probably more enjoyable.

"Low and behold, five goals and it was fantastic. It's something I'll always enjoy, but again it's in the past. I was probably more happy winning last year's Grand Final," he said.

Thompson's memories might be a little distorted by the significance of what he achieved that night, but the history books will record his as the greatest individual performance by a player in a national league Grand Final. Is it safe to say that his five-goal haul with never be beaten?

"You never say never, records are there to be broken, but we'll see. I think they'll pretty much find it hard to beat," he said.