Pajtim Kasami exclusive: 'It was such an unbelievable goal... Maybe top five in the Premier League'
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"Is it just about the goal etc," says Pajtim Kasami, when I texted him if he fancied a chat for SPORTbible's Streets Will Never Forget mini-series. Obviously, I wanted to talk about other things. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to ask him about THAT goal at Selhurst Park in 2013.
After all, it's still a goal etched in Premier League history. The run onto the lofted ball over the top, the control on the chest and then, the volley. Kasami's wonderstrike will always rank as a genuinely iconic moment for fans of a certain vintage and the sensational sequence that led to the finish will go down as one of the greatest goals to have been scored in England's top flight.
While it took an incredible amount of skill to execute the volley from an absurd angle, the Swiss midfielder puts his effort down to 'instinct'.
Pajtim Kasami's volley for Fulham against Crystal Palace 🤯— SPORTbible (@sportbible) January 19, 2022
The best goal in Premier League history? 🤔pic.twitter.com/f77dOQMXlA
Asked what he remembers of the goal, he told SPORTbible: "My memories are still the same. It's something that happened very instinctively. I saw [Sascha] Riether having the ball and I ran into the space, and it came up there and then I took my weaker right foot and put it back in the net."
To this day, the former Fulham man is still extremely proud of the brilliance he showed to execute that stunning volley. The various elements that combined to contribute towards that memorable night in October nearly 10 years ago made it even more special; from the fact it was a Monday Night Football match under the lights to it being a London derby.
"You don't think a lot in this situation," he added.
"It was such an unbelievable goal, like one of the greatest goals in the Premier League. It's something very special and makes me very proud. Some times it's just with your instinct.
"I ran into this space, I controlled it. It was a special goal, and it was Monday Night Football, which made it more special, a London derby. I don't want to forget Steve Sidwell's goal. It was a fun, fun game. We had some fun in that game.
"If I think of it, it's quite an impossible goal to score from that angle. The ball that was played by Riether was an amazing, amazing chipped ball into space. The whole setup was beautiful. It was not like a deflection. It was a pure beautiful setup. Within one pass, you can score a goal, which is beautiful.
"I saw a pass, I mean; I don't know how many passes before the action happened. Maybe I need to see the full game again but from what I remember it like yeah, two, three passes. And that's it."
Kasami's cheeky ear-cupping celebration went under the radar amid the epic goal, but it was a nod to the Crystal Palace fans, who he felt were slightly unorthodox. "Palace fans are a bit different," he said. "A bit different from others. It's nothing. It's just a celebration that you don't think of it."
But it wasn't until the aftermath of that league clash, rewatching his volley and speaking to the analysts in the Sky Sports Studio to register his extraordinary volley that he realised quite how special a strike it was. When I asked him if he knew what he had produced in the moment, he replied: "Until I watched the replay. To be honest, during the game or during half-time, you're not so focused, because you're focused on the game. It goes on, you scored one goal and after the game, I got 'man of the match' and after talking in the studio and like, it was something unbelievable the way you scored and you re-watch it, and then you realise, like, 'wow', that's something special that will be remembered for many, many years or decades. It makes me proud and [is] something very special."
Kasami's name is immediately synonymous with that volley. You can't think of the player without replaying his goal in your head. I've watched it hundreds of times and am still mesmerised by his technique. But what about the man himself? How many times has he rewatched it?
"I'll be honest with you, every time it's that date, the Premier League posts it. So, I will watch it," he revealed. "I don't know. If I'm not lying, during the year. I don't know. Maybe five to 10 times during the year. Because you scroll it on Instagram, I scroll it on Twitter.
"Every time it's my birthday, I get it every time. So, it's interesting to see what other people think about it. And it was also nominated for Puskas Goal of the Year as well. My former teammate James Rodriguez won it. The volley."
He's not wrong. If you simply type his name in on any social media platform, you get flooded with different accounts posting the goal. There is a case to be made for it ranking as the best-ever goal in Premier League history due to the technique involved. Needless to say, it's Kasami's favourite goal of his career and he believes it ranks among the best the league has ever seen.
"Yeah, by far," he said when I asked if it was his favourite goal of his career. "Even though I like volleys. This was the most beautiful. Maybe top five."
Darren Bent, who was playing in the game, called Kasami's volley the 'best goal he's ever seen' and while reminiscing about the 'great' side back in 2013 under Martin Jol, he touched on his former teammate and revealed the typically hilarious reaction of the enigmatic Dimitar Berbatov, who was playing in the same Cottagers team at the time.
He explained: "Darren [Bent], yeah, because he was there. He was playing up front with [Dimitar] Berbatov. I was playing on the wing. We had a great team. Great players, great characters. Darren was a big striker. Huge one.
"His finishing was sick also. It was funny when we did finishing drills in training and being next to Berbatov, [Damien] Duff, Darren."
On Berbatov's reaction, he jokingly said: "He didn't say anything. No, he did. He doesn't talk a lot. That's fine. But everyone congratulated me."
Kasami hasn't played for Fulham since 2014 but he secured his place in fans' hearts with that goal. Despite being away from West London, the feeling is clearly mutual as Kasami discusses how 'the Cottagers' are a club he still keeps an eye on to this day, especially with his former Olympiacos boss Marco Silva now at the helm at Craven Cottage.
"It's still the club in my heart. It's the club that I still support and especially with my former coach I had at Olympiacos, Marco Silva," he said.
"I won the double with at Olympiacos. We had some great success together also in the Champions League."
Since Kasami last played for Fulham, they've spent time in the Championship before winning promotion back to English football's promised land.
Last season, they secured an impressive 10th-placed finish, and he believes the club should now be targeting a return to Europe, having reached the UEFA Cup final in 2010 - a memorable run that included a famous victory over Serie A giants Juventus.
"I'm very pleased for them and very pleased for the fans. I think it's a very good established club and I think maybe the next goal for them is to play in Europe again," he continued.
"That should be their goal and they have a great manager now and they have a great squad with players and great energy. Even if you lose one game, the people still clap and support you which is crucial nowadays."
Kasami, who recently turned 31, is in talks with Olympiacos about extending his stay in the Greek capital, having signed a one-year deal last summer. He believes he's at the 'best stage' of his career and wants to prolong his time in Europe amid a wider raft of transfers in the game currently across the US and Saudi Arabia. However, his 'big goal' remains to one day return to the Premier League. He's fully aware of the fast-paced nature of business in a league widely considered the world's best but how likely does he think a return is?
"This is a big aim, a big goal for me," he said about a return to the Premier League.
"I want to stay for sure the next three or four years in Europe. Football can change so fast that you cannot know what can happen. But I think I'm in my best stage now. I feel very fit and I'm ready to start soon. Last year was a bit of a problem. I injured my calf, which made me start with the team a bit late. In football we cannot predict what's going on next year. I'm not planning. I cannot say 'I will not go there, I will do that.' Football is a daily business."
Whether Kasami will ply his trade again in England remains to be seen, but he had a glint in his eye when he talked up the Premier League. Successful stints at Sion, Basel and Olympiacos, where he scored an impressive 49 goals during that period, will stand him in good stead should he achieve his goal.
This is the fifth feature from SPORTbible's Streets Will Never Forget mini-series in which we hunt down some of the Premier League's most iconic names.