The Best 25 World Cup Goals Ever
Every four years, the world's greatest sporting event rears its head and this summer, it is in the wonderful country of South Africa.
South Africa will be the first African nation ever to host the World's largest single sports event.
It is bigger than the Super Bowl, bigger than the World Series, bigger than the Tour de France, bigger than the F.A. Cup, and bigger than the Premier League.
Just to put it into perspective, the last World Cup in Germany in 2006 was watched by approximately 716 million viewers for the tournament and 260 million viewers alone for the final between Italy and France.
The Super Bowl in comparison can only claim 98 million viewers. No mean feat for America's most popular sporting spectacle, but in comparison the World's favorite game overshadows it by a country mile.
However, to get everyone in the mood, I have selected my favorite World Cup goals of all time. It was incredibly difficult to select only 25 goals from the hundreds that have been scored since the first World Cup Finals in Uruguay in 1930.
I was of two minds on how to select the goals. Should I pick the top five volleys, top five dribbled goals, the top five free kicks or even the top five 30-yard strikes?
Ultimately, I decided that it had to be goals that everyone could see for themselves, so I have put links to the goals I picked at the end of each page, but it was easier to just pick the goals that I think are the best and let everyone else tell me where I was wrong. So here it goes.
I await the shouts of Pele's goal against Sweden was better than Maradona's 1986 goal against England, or Klinsmann's goal against South Korea in 1994 was better than Gemmill's goal for Scotland in 1978 against Holland.
Let me know where I got it so hopelessly wrong!
No. 25 Geoff Hurst: England vs. West Germany: 1966
What more can be said about this goal than, "they think it's all over, it is now." The late, great English football commentator, Kenneth Wolstenholme's immortal word summed up Hurst's thunderous strike in the 120th minute of the 1966 final to seal the Three Lions' only World Cup final victory, and Hurst's own piece of World Cup history with the only hat-trick scored in the actual final. (Incidentally it is the latest goal scored in any World Cup final so far).
No. 24 Manuel Negrete Arias: Mexico vs. Bulgaria: 1986
Manuel Negrete Arias' goal is a beautiful piece of link-up play that culminates in a fantastic acrobatic shot from the edge of the box that no keeper would have stopped.
No. 23 Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: West Germany vs. Mexico: 1978
What more can be said, Rummenigge runs almost the full length of the field shrugs off a robust challenge and slots it under the Mexican keeper. Brilliant.
No. 22 Torsten Frings: Germany vs. Costa Rica: 2006
Frings' stunning 30-yard strike to give the Germans a 4-2 victory was arguably the goal of the 2006 World Cup.
No. 21 Johan Cruyff: Holland vs. Argentina: 1974
The Dutch total football machine with Cruyff at it's height, destroyed a very good Argentina side 4-0. Cruyff's control to bring the ball down before rounding the keeper whilst appearing to be totally off balance, only to reel away after putting the ball in the back of the net to give the Netherlands the lead.
No. 20 Franz Beckenbauer: West Germany vs. Switzerland: 1966
The 1966 World Cup young player of the tournament Beckenbauer, scored a wonderfully taken goal in the 5-0 rout of Switzerland and then controlled the game. Earning his nickname "the Kaiser" in the process.
The Kaiser's first goal was a perfect example of German efficiency, as a series of neat passes resulted in the Germans taking a three goal lead.
No. 19 Daniel Amokachi: Nigeria vs. Greece: 1994
With strength and pace the big Nigerian striker, Amokachi wormed his way through the Greek midfield before letting loose a fantastic shot to leave the Greeks in a tragedy.
No. 18 Roger Milla: Cameroon vs. Columbia: 1990
Roger Milla's age (oldest player to score in a World Cup, 42 years old) and famous goal celebration are what most people remember but his goal at the start of extra time was a beauty as he skipped over a challenge on the edge of the Colombian box to slot home with the composure of a veteran, but his celebration was pure youthful exuberance.
No. 17 Bobby Charlton: England vs. Mexico: 1966
Charlton picked up the ball in his own half and carried the ball to the Mexican box with the Mexicans standing off all the way. Then he let loose a ferocious strike that almost broke the back of the net. Considering how heavy the footballs were in the old black and white days it makes his shot even more remarkable.
No. 16 Roberto Baggio: Italy vs. Czechoslovakia: 1990
Baggio was arguably the best striker on the planet in 1990 and his goal against the Czech side demonstrates why.
Receiving the ball in his own half before playing a sweet one-two. He then jinxed his way through the defense before splitting the two Czech center backs and slotting the ball under the keeper. A sublime goal.
No. 15 Edson Arantes do Nascimento: Brazil vs. Italy:1970
No list of great World Cup goals would be complete without Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or Pele as he is known the world over.
The Brazilian worked this goal so well from a beautifully floated pass, where Pele managed to escape his defender to score a great header.
No. 14 Jurgen Klinsmann: Germany vs. South Korea: 1994
Klinsmann makes space for himself in the South Korean box, flicks the ball up, spins, and on the half volley, BANG. The keeper didn't stand a chance.
No. 13 Diego Maradona: Argentina vs. Belgium: 1986
From a delicious threaded pass, Maradona is shepherded to the edge of the six-yard box by two Belgian defenders. The Belgian keeper is bearing down on him but going to ground at the ball. The wonderfully talented little Argentinian just flicks the ball over the despairing dive of the keeper with the outside of the foot.
No. 12 Michael Owen: England vs. Argentina: 1998
Owen received the ball from Beckham in the edge of the center circle and by sheer pace, the young Englishman single handedly creates one of the best goals of the 1998 tournament.
He races past one Argentinian then totally turns the Argentinian center back before stroking the ball past the keeper Roa, who doesn't stand a chance.
No. 11 Diego Maradona: Argentina vs. Greece: 1994
Maradona makes his second appearance on the list with this perfect display of team play from Argentina in 1994. Just before he was embroiled in the drugs scandal that would see him kicked out of the the US, he scored one of the best team goals of the World Cup finals.
From a series of one-twos the Argentinian forward line managed to manufacture a great opportunity for Maradona out of nothing, but it still needed the "Golden Boy" to conjure up a fine strike from a difficult body position to score.
No. 10 Arie Haan: Netherlands vs. Italy: 1978
After going behind to an unlucky Ernie Brandts own goal the Dutchmen didn't let their heads drop, despite going to the half time break a goal down. With only four minutes of the the second half played Brandts made up for his forced error by bringing the scores level with a sweet strike from 25 yards out, but the game would be remembered not for Brandts own goal or his goal.
With 15 minutes left the Italians gave away a needless free kick about 40 yards out. The Dutch took the free kick quickly and passed the ball to Haan. The great Italian keeper Dino Zoff was screaming at his defenders to be aware of the danger, but Haan blasted the ball from 40 yards out.
It was curving away from him and with Zoff diving in vain the ball bulged the net after ricocheting off the left hand post. 2-1 to the Netherlands.
No. 9 Archie Gemmill: Scotland vs. Holland: 1978
Scotland had gone to Argentina with the notion that they could actually win the World Cup. They did after all have best team that Scotland had produced in years.
However, after a disastrous 3-1 loss to Peru then a 1-1 draw with Iran it looked like their chances of progressing to the second group stage were dead and buried when they had to play the total football machine of Holland, and then beat them by at least three clear goals, and needed Iran to beat Peru.
The heavily fancied Dutch took the lead with a goal from Rob Rensenbrink but just before the half Kenny Dalglish managed to pull the Scots level and Archie Gemmill scored from the spot as the second half started to give the Scotsmen a 2-1 lead.
On 68 minutes, however, Scotland went 3-1 up when Archie Gemmill scored one of the great goals of the 1978 World Cup. The "wee" midfield player homed in on goal, played a beautiful one-two with Dalglish, then sprinted into the box and smashed a magnificent goal past the Dutch keeper Jongbloed to rekindle Scotland's hopes.
Suddenly Scotland were dreaming of glory again, only for Johnny Rep to score a deflected goal to bring the Scots back to earth with a bump. The deflection off the Scottish hero Gemmill.
No. 8 Diego Maradona: Argentina vs. England: 1986
The game between Argentina and England in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup has to be put into context to get the true feeling of the game and goals.
Argentina had just lost the Falkland's war to England just four years earlier and tensions were still high from the conflict. England had arguably the most talented bunch of players for a decade but they didn't have the "Golden Boy."
The game in Mexico was in front a massive 114,580 avid football fans who were well aware of the enmity between the two sides, and expected a great match.
They weren't going to be upset, unless they were English. With the first half a relatively quiet affair because of the baking heat in the Estadio Azteca, Mexico City the second half has two of the World Cup's most famous goals.
The Argentinians had taken the lead from a bizarre goal that has become known as "the Hand of God," but it was Maradona's second goal that lives on in the memory for its majesty.
He had received the ball from Hector Enrique 10 yards in his own half and whirled away from a couple of challenges then raced into the England half. The English defenders inexplicably stood off the little Argentinian maestro, to the point that by the time he reached the England penalty area apart from a totally wrong footed attempt from Terry Butcher.
Maradona just waltzed into the England box, skipping over a lunge from Terry Fenwick before the England captain Butcher tried again to take the ball from Maradona on the edge of the six-yard box.
The England goalkeeper Peter Shilton dived low to take the ball from the boot of the Argentinian, but he was too slow as the ball was under his body and in the net.
Within four minutes Argentina had taken a two goal lead, one with bravado and a hand ball the other with a 60-yard, 10-second piece of footballing class. The two sides of Diego Maradona.
No. 7 Paul Breitner: West Germany vs. Chile: 1974
The bearded Breitner, latched onto a neat piece of build-up play from the West German team before unleashing a delightfully powerful shot on goal that the Chilean keeper Leopoldo Vallejos could only get his fingertips to.
No. 6 Marco Tardelli: Italy vs. West Germany: 1982
Nowadays Marco Tardelli is more famous for his fantastic goal celebration after giving Italy a two goal lead in the 1982 World Cup final, rather than for the great goal he scored.
Tardelli gathered the ball from a pass across the front of the box, he took one touch to control the ball and despite a stiff challenge from a German defender struck a wonderful shot through the packed box to give Italy a three goal lead.
No. 5 Edson Arantes do Nascimento: Brazil vs. Sweden: 1958
In Pele's first World Cup he became the World Cup's youngest player. When he scored against Wales in the quarterfinals he became the tournament's youngest ever scorer at the tender age of 17 years and 239 days.
When he helped Brazil beat France in the semifinals he became the youngest hat-trick scorer in World Cup history at 17 years and 249 days.
Pele saved the best for the final though with his first goal a tremendous display of ball control that many in Europe had never witnessed before.
He trapped the ball on his chest to reduce the pace of the ball before totally bamboozling the Swedish defender by neatly lobbing the ball over the defenders head and scoring from a sweet half volley, with the Swedish keeper diving too late to stop the young Brazilian's strike.
The young Pele was so exhausted after the final whistle that he collapsed on the field as a world champion.
No. 4 Jairzinho: Brazil vs. England: 1970
In arguably one of the best World Cup's games ever it is often remembered for the best World Cup save ever, rather than one of the best goals.
It was billed as "the Clash of the Champions." Reigning World Champions, England against twice winners Brazil. Along with Romania and Czechoslovakia, it was the group of death.
The Brazilian's worked a wonderful team goal yet again. Tostao managed to wrestle the ball away from England captain Bobby Moore on the edge of the England penalty area. He then muscled his way into the box and lobbed the ball back across the box to Pele.
Pele, controlled the ball and slid it out wide to Jairzinho who took the ball with three touches and smashed it past the dive of the England keeper, Gordon Banks.
No. 3 Dennis Bergkamp: Netherlands vs. Argentina: 1998
Bergkamp's magnificent winning goal in the final minute of the quarterfinal against Argentina in 1998 will live in the memory for a long time.
The Dutchman took a leaping first touch to instantly control a long 60-yard aerial pass from Frank de Boer. He brought the ball down through Argentine defender Roberto Ayala's legs, and finally finished by firing a volley with the outside of his right foot past the keeper at a tight angle from the right.
In only three beautifully crafted right-foot touches, in a matter of seconds, he was able to turn the game and send "La Naranja Mecánica" squad into the semifinals.
No. 2 Saed Al-Owairan: Saudi Arabia vs. Belgium: 1994
It was a memorable World Cup for Saudi Arabia. It was their first appearance in the finals, and they also reached the last 16, but they also produced one of the best goals in World Cup history when on five minutes, striker Saed Al-Owairan got a hold of the ball.
The "Maradona of Arabia" received the ball just outside his own penalty area and proceeded to dribble his way through the Belgian team all the way to the Belgian box before slotting home beautifully over the dive of the Belgian keeper.
No 1 Carlos Alberto Torres: Brazil vs. Italy: 1970
Once again the Brazilian football machine produced a wonderfully worked goal that is almost universally agreed to be the best World Cup goal ever.
In a game that produced five goals and was a classic of attacking football by the Brazilians who scored four goals against a very good Italian side famous for his defensive strength.
Pele was having the game of his life and laid off the ball for the Brazilian skipper. In the build up to Pele's lay off to Carlos Alberto, the ball was passed through no less than eight Brazilian players in what is in my opinion the best World Cup goal ever.
Clodoaldo appeared to dribble around the whole Italian midfield before passing out to the left wing and Rivelino. Rivelino hit an inch perfect pass down the wing to Jairzinho.
Jairzinho controlled the ball and crossed from the wing to the center of the box to Pelé, the Brazilian No. 10 trapped the ball for a second, then played a superb pass for Alberto to smash home, giving the Italian keeper Enrico Albertosi no chance.
The 25 Best World Cup Goals Ever
I know that I will not have pleased everyone with my choices, but I would like to think that my top five at least would be there or thereabouts in most people's choices.
Like all things where people's personal opinion is involved it is hard to be totally objective, but I would like to think that as a fan of football at all levels I have picked some of the best World Cup goals for you to see and relive.
Hopefully, the summer of 2010 in South Africa will make me rethink my top 25 World Cup goals ever.