From Zidane to Cruyff, Ronaldo, Bale and Iniesta: Great Turns in GIFs

Will TideySenior Manager, GlobalJune 24, 2013

The best players possess a natural grace. There's a balletic quality to the way they move with the ball and a poise immune to the frightening pace of the game around them.

Lionel Messi has it. Cristiano Ronaldo has it. Neymar has it. Pele, Maradona, George Best, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Alfredo Di Stefano and other defining players of their era had it.

But while we are reminded most of their goals and slaloming runs, there is no clearer act to frame genius on the field than a mesmerising turn. In one movement, a great player states his case with such emphasis that we are left in no doubt they are operating at a higher state of football consciousness to those around them.

As we look at some of football great turns, let's start with Andres Iniesta's now-iconic "scoop."

Above is Iniesta in action for Barcelona against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last season. Here's another slick turn from the Spanish midfielder, which came against Real Madrid.

Next up, Zidane's famous 360-degree turn in all its glory. Zizou was playing for Madrid against former club Juventus when he pulled this one off.

From Zidane to fellow Galatico Ronaldo. This piece of ridiculousness was executed with Ronaldo on Portugal duty against the Netherlands at Euro 2012. 

The Dutch link takes us to Dennis Bergkamp, whose pirouette turn against Newcastle for Arsenal ranks among the great Premier League goals.

What's so brilliant here is Bergkamp's spacial awareness and how he manages to direct the ball back into his own path. 

Next up, Gareth Bale with his take on the Zidane 360. The Spurs winger pulled this off in a cup match against Leeds, and he executed the move at breakneck speed to add to its difficulty. 

In the cliched words of a pundit, you just can't defend against that.

Back to the Dutch for a look at a turn so inventive it took the name of the man who perfected it. Johan Cruyff performed this iconic "Cruyff turn" at the 1974 World Cup against Sweden.

It's been copied many times since and remains a wonderfully effective way to fool a defender that you're going to pass, instead leaving him for dead as you spin away.

Just last season in the Premier League, Robin van Persie tried one for Manchester United (watch) and Luis Suarez pulled one off for Liverpool (watch).

Suarez gets an entry of his own right here. This backheel nutmeg he performed for Uruguay against Paraguay is outrageous.

Finally, we go to Chelsea's Eden Hazard for this piece on sorcery against Wales. Hazard was playing for Belgium and clearly in the mood to put on an exhibition. 

All of these have something in common, in the sense that they elevate the player in question beyond all those around him. When a great turn is deployed, it feels like all bar the proponent are momentarily frozen in time.

The roulettes of Zidane were one of the many things that separated him from everybody else playing in his era.

I'm sure to have missed some, while plenty of others I failed to find decent GIFs for. Please suggest your great turns in the comments section below.