Living legend: Russian footballer’s record stands unbeaten for over a decade now
Sixteen years on, his moves may not be quite as slick, but his feet still remember the glory of scoring the magic quintuple.
"We had a strong team and we still had a chance to progress in the tournament. But we had to score many goals to stay in. The whole team pushed hard, but I was lucky to score all 5 goals. When I scored the 5th, I felt as if I had wings growing behind my shoulders and I could score even more. After the game it was announced that I set the new world record," remembered Oleg Salenko.
Oleg's team was eliminated from the tournament, but for his five goals Salenko entered the Guinness Book of World Records and received the top goal scorer's trophy.
Millions of footballers across the planet dream of laying their hands on this prize – the Golden Boot. However, in today’s world, you don’t necessarily have to score goals to possess it.
Recently Oleg received an offer from Arab sheikhs to buy his prize for $1.5 million.
"They offered to buy the trophy in order to organize a tournament in the Emirates, to raise money for youth football. To be honest, I don’t want to sell it at all, but I also had a similar offer from Zenith St. Petersburg’s museum. It would be much better for me if our kids went there and saw my Golden Boot and understood – you can achieve it even if you are just a kid from the streets like me," Salenko said.
Should he decide to give his trophy, Oleg says, the revenue would be poured into raising new Salenkos both in Russia and Ukraine.
"I would donate half the money to the children's football school where I trained as a kid. As for the rest, I’m now holding talks with the new political regime in Ukraine to develop training grounds for kids. So some of the money would go there," the veteran footballer said.
For the next month, the eyes of millions across the world will be glued to the planet’s biggest football championship. The Russian and Ukrainian national teams will join the ranks of onlookers.
Sad about this, Salenko says he will be supporting Spain, the country where he spent his best playing years. But despite the glimmer of all the stars at the tournament, this veteran footballer is confident that his record will stand.