What Makes a Great Goal?
The artistic brilliance and ingenuity that epitomizes soccer has captivated audiences for over a century. Compared with other sports, soccer’s relatively simple rules allow players to create innumerable variations of tricks, skills, passes and shots.
This capacity for novelty has seen the popularity of the beautiful game grow with unabated vigor. In particular, millions of unique goals have been scored, the best of which can be viewed in the video compilation below.
Choosing the best soccer goals was not an easy task. A flicked back-heel or an audacious overhead kick will be attempted hundreds of times in a season of soccer, and one has to question whether it is luck or skill that causes one or two to hit the back of the net. This video compilation includes only those strikes that required extraordinary ability, skill and difficulty.
10. George Weah
Many people will remember George Weah for the incredible goal he scored for Milan in 1996. He managed to pick up the ball in his own penalty area before running the length of the pitch to slot past the opposition goalkeeper. On his way, he evaded three defenders with consummate ease. George was voted the best African soccer player of the 20th century.
9. Zlatan Ibrahimovich
In late 2012, Zlatan Ibrahimovich scored one of the best goals ever in an international friendly against England. When England goalkeeper, Joe Hart, made a poor headed clearance, Zlatan turned on his heels, leapt into the air, and looped an overhead kick into the England goal from 30 yards. While overhead kicks are generally lucky goals, the technique, composure, athleticism and accuracy demonstrated by Ibrahimovich was phenomenal.
8. Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp was known for his sublime skill and ball control, but his goal for Arsenal against Newcastle in 2002 left everyone stunned. It is difficult to describe exactly what he did because no one else seems to have done it before. You could say he flicked the ball backwards around the defender, turned, and ran around the opposite side to collect it and score—but it’s better to just watch and be amazed!
7. Eric Cantona
This legendary goal from Eric Cantona in 1996 befitted his subsequent celebration. He beat two players before exchanging passes with a Manchester United teammate. He then chipped the ball over the goalkeeper from the edge of the penalty area. Cantona celebrated by standing on the spot, slowly pirouetting as he took in the atmosphere with a vaunting stare to accompany his most memorable moment.
6. Marco Van Basten
When Dutch legend Marco Van Basten scored a goal in the 54th minute of the 1988 European Championship final, even the emulous Germans stood up and applauded. His infamous goal was a strike of incredible difficulty, being a precise, powerful, looped volley from a difficult angle. The Netherlands won the final with Van Basten finishing as the tournament’s top scorer.
5. Carlos Alberto
The Brazilian team that took part in the 1970 World Cup was one of the greatest in the history of the beautiful game. Led by Carlos Alberto, the team included Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, and Gerson. They won every match in the tournament, culminating in a 4-1 demolition of Italy in the final. This final match saw one of the greatest team goals ever scored.
4. Roberto Carlos
This entry is more of a tribute to the greatness of Roberto Carlos. The spectacular video contains three extraordinary goals. The first is perhaps the most-watched goal in the history of soccer. Even to this day, no one appears to have reproduced Roberto’s free-kick that left French goalkeeper, Fabian Barthez, stationary and perplexed. Perhaps better, the second goal in the video features an impossible strike from the narrowest of angles.
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovich
In 2004, Zlatan Ibrahimovich produced a goal worthy of the great Johan Cruyff. He twisted and turned, evading five attempts to win the ball before slotting calmly into the goal. The range of skills and dummies he utilized made it one of the best soccer goals ever. His team, Ajax, won the game 6-2, which may bring the quality of the opposition defense into question. Nevertheless, it is a joy to watch.
2. Diego Maradona
Perhaps the most famous goal in the history of the beautiful game, Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup strike against England was a moment of pure genius. He picked up the ball in his own half and beat four players and the goalkeeper before poking the ball into the net. Argentina went on to win the tournament with Maradona named as the best player.
1. Lionel Messi
As the best player in the world, it’s quite fitting that Lionel Messi has also scored the best goal. It came for Barcelona against Getafe in 2007, and it showed many similarities with Diego Maradona’s strike 20 years earlier. From the same starting and finishing positions, he beat four players before rounding the goalkeeper to score. While there is little difference between the two goals, Messi’s had a slightly better finish.
There were many great goals that didn’t quite make it into this video compilation. Notable mentions go to the overhead kicks from Wayne Rooney, Mauro Bressan and Rivaldo; Rafael Van Der Vaart’s back-heel goal; Clarence Seedorf’s long-range pile-driver; Johan Cruyff’s greatest goal (1972); Dalian Atkinson’s solo goal; Andres Vasquez’s “Rabona goal”; and the flying volley from Robin Van Persie. This list of incredible goals has to make some omissions! Thank you for reading and watching, I hope you enjoyed this compilation!