For those who dispute the magic of the FA Cup, we now have conclusive evidence that the magic is alive and well, in the form of the reincarnation of Patrick Bamford.
It’s been an immensely mercurial career for Bamford who, to put it kindly, has experienced the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows on the football pitch.
He’s an enigma, is Patrick. An exceptionally infuriating enigma, if you’re a Leeds United supporter.
From beginnings at Chelsea and the million-and-one loan spells that inevitably followed, Bamford settled in the Championship with Middlesbrough before moving to Leeds in 2018.
Somewhat of a footballing mercenary, Bamford has never done the footballing gig by the book. He left secondary school with stellar GCSE results and went on to study A-Levels, while most young footballers are happy with a sports science certificate and a scholarship.
He plays a number of classical music instruments and can speak French, German and Spanish, making the most of a privileged upbringing.
Bamford is also the most confusing striker on the planet, sprinkling in moments of complete, utter uselessness and mind-boggling, elite-level ability into an otherwise average career, which makes him exceptionally difficult to grade.
It became clear early on that while clearly a better footballer than the average Joe, his finishing left a lot to be desired.
That was until a quirky and explosive Argentine turned up in Leeds and made Bamford look like the reincarnation of prime Gonzalo Higuain for a few seasons, convincing us all that he’d finally turned a corner and begun to peak.
The purple patch was so convincing that he even managed to earn a full England cap in 2021, after years of national team exile.
But alas, it proved to be nothing more than a purple patch. Marcelo Bielsa left Leeds behind, the mask slipped and Bamford was back to being Bamford in the eyes of everyone.
He’s impossible to entirely give up on, though. Like an old, destroyed pair of trainers that you bought aged 17, there’s a comfort in him.
Is he flashy? Far from it. Are his best days behind him? Absolutely. He’s been through the wringer and back. But now and then, for every nine outings which completely let you down and leave you with wet feet and a disappointing outfit, there’s the one occasion where they simply just work.
It all fits together seamlessly. The weather matches the tatty trainers and you’ve been left to look like a mastermind.
That best describes the freakish moment of sheer wizardry that Bamford produced in the FA Cup as Leeds breezed past Peterborough in round three.
With Daniel Farke’s side a goal to the good but in need of a second to put the game to bed, something possessed the 30-year-old.
He went full Dennis Bergkamp and produced a finish so extraordinary that we’re rubbing our eyes, putting on our football boots and heading to Powerleague to try and shamelessly trying to replicate it – to no avail.
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 7, 2024
Sorry, are we sure that’s even Bamford? Have Leeds secretly called up Bergkamp, put him in a wig and thrown a kit on him?
Check the cards, referee. Be that annoying b*stard on a Sunday morning, because we aren’t convinced.
It’s absolutely out of this world. Bamford himself won’t be able to believe the sorcery he’s produced in a slick matter of seconds and touches.
Taking down a hopeful ping forward on his chest under pressure from Peterborough’s defence, Bamford somehow turns on a brilliant piece of control and – on the swivel – volleys the ball into the top bins from outside the box with absurd nonchalance.
An undisputed Puskas contender. It’s amazing what a pair of black gloves and bleached hair can add to a player’s game.
Neither Bergkamp nor the F2 Freestylers in their prime could replicate such an absurd finish.
Bamford certainly couldn’t if he tried – and that in itself is proof that the magic of the FA Cup is still alive and well.
By Mitch Wilks