Dimitri Payet of Vasco da Gama, during the match between Flamengo and Vasco da Gama, for the Brazilian Serie A 2023, at Maracana Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro on October 22.

We’re delighted to announce that Dimitri Payet is still very, very good at free-kicks

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Cast your minds back to mid-2016 and David Cameron is making a hog’s roast of the country, chart music is about as imaginative as a corpse and Dimitri Payet is scoring free-kicks that could act as Viagra replacements. The more things change…

The definitive cult footballer always did things differently. After years at Marseille, Payet rocked up at West Ham and illuminated their final season at Upton Park with flicks, tricks and challenging the rules of relativity with his set-pieces.

His performances for the Hammers earned him a place in France’s XI for Euro 2016. His performances at the Euros on home soil earned him a place on the Ballon d’Or shortlist. You didn’t get this with Carlton Cole.

But Payet downed tools in his second season in England, defecating on his West Ham legacy from roughly the height of the Eiffel Tower by going on strike and demanding a move back to Marseille. The mural outside the London Stadium needed police protection in the aftermath of his sale.

The rotund playmaker carried on firing rocket launchers and tying defenders in knots on the Medditeran coast, cementing his status as a hero at the notoriously hard-to-please Stade Velodrome.

He left Marseille this summer, but did you think he was going to see out the final years of his playing career in Saudi Arabia or the Turkish Super Lig? That would be so unimaginative, so mainstream. Beiger than a Love Islander’s living room.

Instead, the 36-year-old has signed for Brazilian club Vasco da Gama.

“I am really happy to be here and see all this passion from the part of the fans. I can’t wait to play for them,” the mercurial Frenchman said upon his arrival in Brazil.

And we’re happy to announce his baller qualities are trans-continental. Just look at the state of this free-kick against America-RJ in front of several thousand potty fans at Sao Januario.

Setting his sights from the Argentinian border, or 30 yards away from goal in common parlance, Payet eschewed all convention about percentages and xG that blight top-level football in Europe and simply whacked the ball towards the goal.

Its flight was a gorgeous sight to behold, whipping through the air like a jumbo jet and nestling in the pleasantly deep goal nets of the befuddled keeper.

You just don’t stop those – anybody who watched the 2015-16 episode of Premier League Years would’ve told you that.

Involved in the battle for relegation this year, Vasco desperately held on for a 2-1 victory that could kickstart their ailing campaign. 

Asked about the importance of his goal and his victory, Payet replied: “ It is a very important goal because it allows us to take three essential points in our fight to maintain, and our public is behind us.

“It’s true that sometimes, in wanting to do well, we make a lot of mistakes, but whistles won’t help us. Our public must be behind us, all the time, until the end of the match, because once again this evening a match is never over.”

The importance of the victory will reveal its true nature in the weeks and months to come. For now, we should simply sit back and bask in the light of Payet rolling back the years.

By Michael Lee

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