UEFA Cup 1997-1998, FC Metz and Karlsruher SC meet in the second Round. That year, FC Metz who finished 5th of the precedent French league season counts on a very good team including the future World Champion Robert Pirès, another young talent in Jocelyn Blanchard, the indomitable Rigobert Song, the experienced ones Frédéric Meyrieu (at midfield) and most of all the very exemplary Captain Kasteudeusch, without forgetting the Belgian Danny Boffin but also the goalkeeper Létizi whom will permit Metz to finish the 1997-1998 Division I season at the second place behind RC Lens (by goal difference).
For their neighbors of Karlsruher SC, the ambiance was quite different as they came under criticism in Germany due to a maybe anachronistic way of playing wich includes a "real number 10" at the centre of the formation, so in the 80s mould we could say. And we are in 1997. This player whose coach Winfried Schäfer will place his trust and hopes is Thomas Hässler. Older player but gifted with an outstanding technique he has to be the technical leader of his team (wich doesn't benefit of manys of this kind), and it must be admitted that "Icke", as he was affectuously nicknamed across the entire Germany, suits perfectly this role. After being more of a dribbler or an accelerator of the game, now at the organisation of the plays, he might still have a big impact on the matches. However what the critics do not fail to emphasize is that the efficiency of that game-plan relies too much on the "number 10" form. Moreover at his age, he can't do everything all alone. Yet, this is what he will do against Metz (the team, not his teammate). How he did that? What a "number 10" is supposed to do, I ask you? Scoring free-kicks, exactly. That's what he made twice in the first leg match in Lorraine (2-0 away). In the second leg, in the land of Baden-Württemberg, all started off well for Metz with one goal made by Boffin at the tenth minute. But like a little devil that comes out of the box Thomas Hässler would strike again (at the 36th min.). Hitted a free-kick to be precise, yet another one for Létizi and Metz who will therefore bow by three goals in two games, all free-kicks, all signed Hässler.
What you will not see in the following video is that Hässler was really everywhere on the pitch in these two games and at everything: defending, attacking, discussing with the referee, teaching his teammates what to do, how to move. Still, here are his three free-kicks.
Karlsruher SC would be eliminated in the next Round by Spartak Moscow and finished 16th (on 18, an important detail) in Bundesliga. But what a moment of brilliance!
Even if you have just watched the third goal, don't miss the sketch by Chénez at the end of the video.
Also, don't miss Detailed stats of Hässler in the European cups (matches and goals).