Let’s journey back to a weekend evening, sometime in 1998 (or possibly 1999), when a handful of cool dudes are doing what all 17 year-olds should be doing on a Friday or Saturday night: huddling around a beige PC playing computer games.

Unusually, virtual football is on the menu, with a shared love of Ubisoft’s largely-unheralded Puma World Football ’98 somehow overcoming general antipathy towards sport and cultivating an enthusiasm for multiplayer sessions such as this, which have become a regular occurrence.

Tonight, a round-robin with four human players in the room is a special occasion, accorded extra prestige by the acquisition of MS Sidewinder joypads that can be daisy-chained together, finally putting the expensive beige box on a par, of sorts, with those new-fangled games consoles by extending to both players the right to identical controllers.

To round off the general nerdiness of the event, the tournament has been subject to considerable advance planning, with details of custom team names and players requested and submitted in advance in order for the host and organiser to input them into the game’s editor. And so, rather than the line-ups of top European clubs facing off against each other, the participating teams have ludicrous names, with squads largely made up of comic book heroes, 80s and 90s celebrities and heavy metal band members.

And so, during a match between *ahem* Pedro’s Deathitubbies and Spurs Reserves (some teams were named more imaginatively than others), a careless ball forward from Spurs defender Magneto is chested down in the centre circle by the Deathitubbies’ Laa Laa and punted aimlessly towards the stands. Mid-flight, it somehow curves in the air without losing much speed and ends up swirling towards the goal and into the net beyond the despairing dive of the ‘keeper.

It was a fluke, unrepeatable and inexplicable. We did have a theory that the game’s AI goalkeepers – though alive to, and capable of repelling, the most thunderous of shots at close range – were susceptible to slower, more loopy efforts, which were most easily effected by manipulating a player’s shooting ability downwards in the aforementioned editor. But the huge curl on the ball while airborne was a complete mystery. In the moment, there was laughter – and presumably some rage on the part of the player on the receiving end – and a replay was saved for posterity.

Over time, the finer details of the match, the tournament, the players involved and, as acknowledged above, even a rough date of the events in question have all faded away. Without the video, would this moment be a memorable one? Perhaps – as a semi-apocryphal tale that became more ludicrous with each retelling, maybe, or just a dim and dusty vision of something quite funny that happened once. Or it may well have been forgotten altogether.

The goal does live on though. In raking through our murky history for tales of our early adventures with video, it became apparent to me how odd it is for this clip even to exist, through a historical transfer of save and replay files from PC to PC and one day making a decision for some reason to fashion a silent clip from still images of a game, in a pre-YouTube age, to be watched by virtually no-one.

Strangest of all is to realise that this blurry 9-second video replays events that took place in real life a long time ago. It’s the gaming equivalent of an old photograph, bringing nostalgic memories rushing back while simultaneously reminding you just how much time – 20 years (!) – has passed.

Not quite as unbelievable (to use an appropriate phrase) as the goal itself, but close.