Panenka, Higuita and World Football's Other One-Hit Wonders
You may not have heard of The Knack, but here’s guessing you’ve heard them.
In 1979 the Los Angeles-based group’s first album, “Get the Knack,” spent five weeks atop the Billboard chart and their hit single, “My Sharona,” was the number one song of that year.
The band’s second offering, “...But the Little Girls Understand” only went Gold in the United States and their third album, “Round Trip,” sold only 150,000 copies.
By 1981 singer Doug Fiedger had left the group, and a year later The Knack broke up for good (there were, naturally, a handful of reunions), having been on the scene barely three years.
But “My Sharona” lives on. Most classic rock stations keep it on the loop, even if the majority of listeners would scratch their heads if asked who recorded it. The Knack were a one-hit wonder, just as Dexy’s Midnight Runners were with “Come on Eileen” and, in the world of classical music, Luigi Boccherini was with his “String Quartet in E Major” minuet.
World football has its share of one-hit wonders as well—those individuals who, for one reason or another, are remembered mostly for one thing.
The following slides reveal some of my personal favourites.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Antonin Panenka was a midfielder who earned 59 caps for Czechoslovakia between 1973 and 1982. And while he was a decent enough footballer, his claim to fame is the penalty he took in the 1976 European Championship final that won the tournament for his country.
With the title on the line, Panenka strode calmly up to the ball, paused as West Germany goalkeeper Sepp Maier dove to his left, and proceeded to chip the ball straight down the middle and into the back of the net.
Andrea Pirlo’s “Panenka” against England at Euro 2012 is one of the more famous imitations of this style of penalty, but Robin van Persie and Neymar have given it a try or two before as well.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
In a match against Crystal Palace in January 1995, Manchester United forward Eric Cantona was ejected for kicking Palace defender Richard Shaw. And as he was walking off the pitch he delivered a kung-fu style kick into the crowd—an act for which he was banned for the rest of the season and sentenced to 120 hours of community service.
The fellow who received the kick, and the Frenchman’s subsequent punches, was Matthew Simmons, a Palace supporter who had come down 11 rows to yell obscenities at the player.
In April 2011 Simmons was found guilty of punching the coach of his son’s football team and the coach, Stuart Cooper, later claimed Simmons had also swore at him and spit in his face.
But my favourite part of the whole ordeal was Cantona’s press conference following the incident, where he stated, “When seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
He then got up and left.
Getty Images/Getty Images
Former Chelsea and Newcastle left-back Celestine Babayaro was only 16 years and 86 days old when he debuted in the Champions League for RSC Anderlecht, making him the youngest player in the history of the competition.
He also got himself sent off in that match against Steaua Bucharest, making him the youngest player to ever be shown a red card in the Champions League as well.
David Cannon/Getty Images
A goalkeeper for Atletico Nacional and the Colombian national team, Rene “El Loco” Higuita had developed a reputation for eccentricity by the time Colombia faced England in a friendly in September 1995.
But it was in that match that he debuted the “scorpion kick” on the international stage.
Jamie Redknapp took the shot that led up to it, and instead of catching or blocking the ball Higuita leaped into the air—stomach level with the ground—and kicked the ball away with the heel of one of his raised legs.
Photo courtesy TheInsideLeft.com
At the 1982 World Cup, Northern Ireland finished atop a difficult group that included Spain, Yugoslavia and Honduras before bowing out in the second round following a 4-1 defeat to France.
Their hero was Watford striker Gerry Armstrong, who for two weeks in June was one of the most feared forwards in the world.
Armstrong’s first goal came in a 1-1 draw against Honduras in Zaragoza and a few days later his was the only tally of a 1-0 win over hosts Spain in Valencia. He also got the only goal in Northern Ireland’s loss to the French.
So impressed were the Spaniards with Armstrong that Mallorca signed him the following year, although his career rather petered out following the move. He’d also score only two more goals for his country.
Michael Steele/Getty Images
Despite winning five Serie A titles, a Champions League and a World Cup, Marco Materazzi will best be remembered for goading Zinedine Zidane into a head-butt during the 2006 World Cup final.
With Italy and France deadlocked at a goal apiece and penalties looming, Azzurri defender Materazzi hurled a stream of insults at Zidane that led to the France captain head-butting him in the chest. Zidane was issued a straight red card, and Italy went on to win the World Cup.
What’s often overshadowed by the incident is Materazzi’s other contributions to the match. His foul on Florent Malouda after just six minutes sent Zidane to the spot for the opener, but he scored the equalizer in the 19th minute—one of just two goals he’d manage for Italy over his career.
Papa Bouba Diop
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
On the first day of the 2002 World Cup, little-known Lens midfielder Papa Bouba Diop scored the only goal of Senegal’s historic 1-0 win over 1998 winners France.
He would also scored twice in a 3-3 draw with Uruguay as the Lions of Teranga went through to the Round of 16, and his performances at the tournament eventually led to a transfer to Premier League side Fulham in 2004.
Billy Stickland/Getty Images
Having scored 15 goals the previous season for Juventus, Salvatore Schillaci earned a call-up to the Italy squad ahead of the 1990 World Cup and made his international debut from the bench in the Azzurri’s first match against Austria.
He scored the only goal of a 1-0 win, and also found the back of the net in subsequent matches against Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, Ireland, Argentina and England.
But despite winning the tournament’s Golden Boot, he would only play nine more matches for Italy—scoring once—as his career fizzled out.
Photo courtesy dimassimotalento.blogspot.com
Brazil required only a draw against Uruguay in the final match of the 1950 World Cup in order to claim their first ever international title, and when Friaca opened the scoring just two minutes after the restart it looked as though the hosts were going to get the result they needed.
Goals from Uruguay’s Juan Chiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia in the 66th and 79th minutes changed the destination of the trophy, however, and among the team that went on to lift the World Cup was a 19-year-old named Ruben Moran.
A winger for CA Cerro, Moran made his international debut in that World Cup final, and despite the win he would only win one more cap for Uruguay.
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Jimmy Glass is now a goalkeeping coach for Poole Town in the Southern Football League, but between 1991 and 2001 he was a ‘keeper at 14 different English clubs—a tour of duty that included a loan stop at Carlisle United in 1999.
Glass played just three matches for Carlisle, who were struggling to stay in the Football League, and in the final match of the season they required a win against Plymouth Argyle in order to avoid relegation.
With the match level at a goal apiece in the final minute, Glass came up-field after his side had won a corner. And wouldn’t you know it, it was Glass who directed the ball into the back of the net.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Until the United-States-led Iraqi invasion in 2003, Younis Mahmoud played for Baghdad side Talaba. But as football was difficult to play amidst violence and crumbling infrastructure, the striker moved to Qatar, where he has played for a number of clubs since.
In 2007 Mahmoud led a cobbled-together Iraqi national team into the AFC Asian Cup, and after falling behind to Thailand after just six minutes in their opening match Mahmoud equalized for his side just after the hour mark. The game ended 1-1, and Iraq would go on to top the bracket, beating Australia 3-1 in the process.
In the quarterfinals Mahmoud scored both goals as Iraq dispatched Vietnam 2-0, and in the final against Saudi Arabia his 72nd-minute strike proved the tournament winner.
Against all odds, Iraq were Asian champions, and Mahmoud the best player of the competition.
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
Rarely in international football does the title go to a side as unfancied as Greece were entering Euro 2004. But they sent a message of intent in their first match of the Group Stage, handing hosts Portugal a 2-1 defeat in Porto.
After a draw against Spain and narrow loss to Russia, Greece were paired with Euro 2000 winners France in the quarterfinals. Needless to say, they were not expected to win.
But that’s exactly what happened—Angelos Charisteas scoring the only goal of the match in the 65th minute. He’d also score the only goal of the final against Portugal in Lisbon.
Despite a FIFA rank of 19 at the time, Greece had won the European Championship, and they’d done it by scoring just three goals in the knockout round.
Photo courtesy Globoesporte
Like Schillaci and Moran, Brazilian right-back Josimar had never played a match of international football before making his debut at a World Cup finals.
But he got his chance in Brazil’s third Group Stage match (he was 24 at the time) against Northern Ireland, and just before halftime he scored a magnificent goal from all of 25 yards.
He hit another cracker in the Round of 16 against Poland, but after the tournament played only 14 more games for his country. He never scored for Brazil again.
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Henrik Larsen—not Henrik Larsson.
The fellow we’re concerned with is a Dane, not a Swede, who scored three goals at the 1992 European Championship.
Denmark had only qualified for the tournament after Yugoslavia’s withdrawal, but just as Greece would 12 years later they’d shock the continent by going on to win the competition.
Larsen was a big part of that unlikely success.
Going into their final Group Stage game against France, Denmark had yet to find the back of the net—losing 1-0 to England and drawing hosts Sweden 0-0—but Larsen got things rolling with an eighth-minute tally against Les Bleus in Malmo. Denmark won the game 2-1 and slipped into the knockout round.
It was in the semifinal against the Netherlands that Larsen truly shone. His pair of goals helped Denmark to a 2-2 draw after extra time, and he also converted his penalty from the spot. He failed to find the back of the net in the final against Germany (which Denmark won 2-0), but by then he had done his bit.
He’d score just two more goals for his country after winning Euro ’92.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Oleg Salenko was a journeyman striker who enjoyed his best seasons at Dynamo Kiev and Spanish side Logrones. But it was at USA ’94 that he left his lasting mark.
Following a 2-0 loss to Brazil and 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sweden, against whom he scored his side’s only goal, Russia went into their final Group Stage match against Cameroon knowing they were already eliminated from the competition.
Nevertheless, they shellacked the Africans to the tune of 6-1 and, incredibly, five of the goals came from Salenko. No one before had scored a quintuple in a Group Stage match at the World Cup, and no one has since.
Salenko, for his part, would never score for Russia again.