In perpetuity on YouTube, he walks the soaked Russian pitch toward the moment. He tugs at his left sleeve and then specifically at his "C" armband as he ambles along. He does look just a mite addled but, then, that surely counts as hindsight.
The penalties stand at four for Manchester United through five tries and four for Chelsea through four, and the shoot-out persists only because Nani has just helped United cling on by their last dental floss of hope. Nobody will remember this, but Nani has just yanked his penalty leftward just as Petr Cech has hurled himself toward the ball, which somehow has crammed itself into the top left corner by eluding all those limbs.
That would be Nani, age 21, completing his first United season, 360 days after almost anonymously helping Sporting Lisbon win the Portuguese Cup over Belenenses. This would be the European Champions League final of May 21, 2008, in Moscow, anonymity unavailable, and for all YouTube eternity here comes John Terry, wise owl of 27, a horde of huge moments already lived and stashed in the brain.
The referee stands over the ball. Terry backs up, places hands on hips. The referee whisks himself out of the picture. The rain persists. Terry hunches forward, then settles back again. In goal, Edwin van der Sar does his best aeroplane impersonation.
There goes the whistle, and here comes Terry, three quick steps, left-right-left-connect, ball off right post, Van der Sar exulting somewhat absurdly from close to the opposite post - probably just relief - and Terry on his backside, hands under calves, palms upward, face buried between knees, legacy altered.
Left-right-left-connect had taken two seconds, counting that famous little slip-in-the-mud.
As Manchester United and Chelsea prepare to reacquaint three years on in a Champions League quarter-final courtesy of a melodramatic draw on Friday, it brings another good reminder that the people who play and manage sport on television take more risks than we usually acknowledge.
They weather the tedium of preparation for hours, days, years, steering all of that energy into something forever part-lottery. In the commonly accepted insanity of big-time sport, they travel the narrow passageways of close games knowing that tiny, tiny matters lead to cemented reputations for all time and all YouTube.
Three years on, we call Sir Alex Ferguson ratified as a two-time Champions League titlist, among other hosannas. We see the second as cementing his great cleverness. Yet if Terry's ball whirrs inches left, people would chatter that Ferguson should have won more Champions Leagues and, oh, that's right, barely got the one he won in 1999. Manchester United's feckless loss to Barcelona in the 2009 final would ache all the more.
We see Roman Abramovich still fumbling around with a flashlight seeking his yearned-for Champions League title. Yet if Terry's slip had been slighter and his ball had caromed into the net rather than heckling him with its sickly trip right, we would lack the intrigue at seeing Roman Abramovich still fumbling around with a flashlight. And Chelsea's haunting loss to Barcelona in the 2009 semi-finals did ache all the more.
We all see Avram Grant as the manager at West Ham after a stint at Portsmouth after those eight months at Chelsea. Yet if that patch of mud that ought to repose in glass at Old Trafford's museum had not rubbed Terry's left boot just the wrong way, well, we would see Avram Grant at Portsmouth and West Ham anyway. Maybe his firing would have come six months later rather than three days later, but he would be the only manager to win the Champions League at Chelsea which, given the knee-jerk lampooning he endured, would bring always-welcome humour.
And three years on, we all see Cristiano Ronaldo's dossier as lacking shouting drawbacks. Yet if Terry's left boot only had come down on a sturdier patch, what?
Ronaldo's pathetic miss on Manchester United's third kick might have soared in public consciousness. It would have joined his miss in the semi-final against Barcelona as some sort of concrete theme coexisting weirdly with his then-hottest-player-on-earth motif. His lukewarm showing in the 2009 final against Barcelona would have burned more. And the average fan might have more room in memory for something that had slipped mine - thank you, YouTube! - which is that Ronaldo halted midstream toward the ball, continued meekly and squirted leftward a thing so ugly that Cech seemed to halt it almost inadvertently with his trailing elbow before it wheezed away to die.
Entire careers gain partial definition on two seconds with mud and a post. You might even say these loony people earn their money.