Emre Can has invented a pass we’ve never seen before & it’s absolutely f*ckin’ genius
It’s often said that everybody has a book in them, whether a vast reservoir of creativity lurks within or the level of imagination that’d barely cover a gnat.
While the phenomenon is overstated – we all know somebody who can barely create an excuse, never mind Harry Potter – there’s a kernel of truth contained here. Human beings are immensely creative and it’s not always those who you’d expect to come up with something mind-blowing.
Take Emre Can, for example. A fine midfielder for Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool and the living embodiment of Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpressing. You half-expect him to lead country retreats in the art of running, pressure and organic lung growing once he retires.
But Can also has a subtle creative streak lurking within all that athleticism. Take his goal against Watford in 2017, when the midfielder contorted his limbs like Playdoh to score the most jaw-droppingly athletic goal.
Or how, earlier this year, Can took the concept of the awesome halfway line goal and injected a refreshing amount of slapstick and Sunday League into the feat. Seriously impressive, in its own way.
And now the Germany international has passed the ball in a manner that we’ve never seen before. During Tuesday’s international against France, held at Can’s home stadium in Dortmund, the 29-year-old turned Eduoard Camavinga to stone in front of an audience of thousands.
As Ilkay Gundogan shunted him the ball from a seated position, Can allowed it to bounce before flicking it between his legs and over a gaping Camavinga.
Miraculously, Can’s moment of genius found a team-mate without breaking stride. Even more miraculously, the midfielder trotted away as if he hadn’t just blown a hole in the space-time continuum. Truly world-class modesty.
It’s been five years since Can left Liverpool for an ill-fated spell at Juventus, but he still retains affection for the club and English football.
“When I think back to my time in England, I always tell everyone how much running we did, Can told The Athletic earlier this year.
We were up and down, all day. At the beginning, the quality wasn’t super high, but in the last two seasons we had a superb team that also understood the importance of hard graft.” And those who initially didn’t understand, Can adds, were quickly disabused of their ignorance by the new man in charge.
“You had no choice under Kloppo. He was very challenging. If you didn’t get to the second ball, for example, he would scream and the next time, you really made sure that you got there, double-quick (laughs). If you didn’t run all day, you found yourself on the bench or in the stands in no time.
“I learned that you can’t do anything without hard work. When the whole team do it, it’s easier, it’s a beautiful thing. That’s what we need to do here. Everyone needs to run, everyone needs to understand that there’s no other way.”
It’s heartening that, alongside all that running and endeavour, Can retains the mischievous streak of a true creative. And, that sometimes, moments of genius arrive from the ones you least expect.
By Michael Lee