For Sébastien Thill, it runs in the family to have a sense for the spectacular. His stunning winner at the Bernabeu announced Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol to the world but his father can lay claim to a more audacious goal.
Serge Thill, while playing for Luxembourg club CS Grevenmacher in 1997, took advantage of a recent rule change to allow goals direct from kick-off. With the first kick of a match against Avenir Beggen he sent the ball high into the air and under the crossbar of his opponents’ goalkeeper.
His son was only a toddler at the time but would be destined for a life in sport. His mother, Nathalie, was a multi-disciplined athlete for Luxembourg and a footballer. Thill Jr and his two younger brothers Olivier and Vinent would eventually represent their country at football.
The goal on Tuesday night against Real Madrid was a beautifully struck half-volley that arrowed into Thibaut Courtois’ top corner. The look on David Alaba’s face summed up the disbelief at the 13-time European Champions being defeated by Sheriff. After defeating Shakhtar Donetsk, they are within touching distance of the knockout stages.
Thill’s brother Vincent went to French club Metz as a youngster, following in the footsteps of Miralem Pjanić who also played for Metz and Luxembourg youth teams before representing Bosnia and Herzegovina in senior international football. But the eldest of the Thill brothers has played the bulk of his career in his homeland with Progrès Niederkorn.