In anticipation of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa taking place just a few days from now, we look at what makes the global game so exciting: gooooooals!
After viewing over 20 hours and 300 segments of goals scored over the past 50 or so years, I was given the chance to carve out what I considered the creme de la creme.
Upon further inspection, I took into account the historical, social, and international ramifications of why each goal made the sacred 10. Plus, I also tried to measure the difficulty and skill per goal.
The selection may omit a goal that you think deserves to be among the best, but I do think that you will not be disappointed with the following presentation.
Let's hope this keeps you satisfied until June 11!
When people think of great goals scored in soccer, they immediately think about the men's game. And when they think about Brazil, you can't blame them for thinking about Pele, Socrates, Jairzinho, Bebeto, Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Kaka, and so on.
Unh-uh. I've gotta give props to the women's game. Albeit the Marta show at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup semis was against the US, all spectators were stunned to see that this Brazilian striker's got game.
Despite the 4-0 shellacking Brazil's women put on America, they lost in the World Cup final to Germany. The US women got their revenge by beating their South American rivals in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
What a way to make a statement by scoring this first-ever goal in league play!
On May 7, 2007, Vasquez notched this ridiculous boot for IFK Goteborg of Sweden against Orebro SK. To execute the move, using his dominant kicking foot (left) crossed behind his right (called a rabona kick), is quite gutsy and bold. But to pull it off AND score a goal, too?
That puts you in my Top 10.
No disrespect to England's preeminent midfielder and global superstar David Beckham, but I've always found Roberto Carlos' curves a bit more lethal and difficult to pull off.
Here against France in 1997, one year before France shocked the world by beating Brazil 3-0 in the1998 World Cup final, Carlos boots an estimated 40-to 45-foot shot. At first it looks as if the ball's going outside the goal post, and then miraculously takes a left turn at Albuquerque in the last five yards.
Wish I could do that...
There have been several great players to don a soccer jersey in La Liga, and many more to score amazing goals for their respective teams in Spain's premier league. But this has to be one of the best controlled and artfully successful bicycle kicks ever attempted.
Case in point: Rivaldo (former no. 2 to Ronaldo on Brazil's 2002 World Cup-winning squad), gently trapping a pass on his chest, elevating his body parallel to the net, and then striking the ball off his left foot to give Barcelona a 3-2 win over Valencia at the 90th minute.
That goal was his third of the game, as the hat trick allowed Barca to clinch a berth in the UEFA Champions League tournament.
Take that, Lance Armstrong!
Whether a match takes place in the form of a friendly, an Olympic meeting, in a World Cup or what have you, it doesn't matter. Sometimes it's just the way the game is played and how much effort and beauty the players put into it that make you want to review the best plays on the pitch again and again.
Which is something I feel whenever I see the man known as "Lamp" score this goal in a Chelsea-Barcelona match. The main thing that stuns me is the series of actions he pulls off in just mere seconds.
Let's take a look at the key moves of Lampard: he was able to control the pass, trap it, avoid the ball crossing the goal line, quickly turn a complete 360 degrees before a defender could kick the ball away, and, after all that, arc a shot close to nine feet in the air and have it land on the right side of the net.
Wow. Think I've got to see that one again!
A product of "Total Football," the brainchild of Dutch mastermind Rinus Michels, Cruyff took off like a rocket in Europe in the 1960s and '70s, when robotic-like play was the norm.
This great two-touch goal took place in an Eredivisie league game between Cruyff's Ajax team vs. ADO Den Haag, on Jan. 2, 1972.
Here, Cruyff's ability to not only to stop the long lob sent to him, but to kick it in an area that he thinks the defender wouldn't reach in time is pure magic. The extra effort to pursue the ball in the penalty box and curve it into the net where the goalie can't catch it? Perfect.
Although more famous for his gameplay with Ajax than for the "Oranje" in World Cup/national team matches, because of the years he spent with each respective team, to this day Cruyff remains one of most innovative goal scorers to set foot on a pitch. For sure up there with the Peles, Beckenbauers and Platinis of that era.
Sometimes no matter the consequence, a star player or a great secondary player comes through for a team, even when he's not counted on to win the game.
In extra-time against Mexico, Rodriguez controlled a long cross-field pass against his chest, and in a split second, he flicked a 25-yard laser outside of the penalty box past the goalkeeper. This 2-1 win led Argentina to the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup.
Let's see if Rodriguez will wreak havoc again with teammate and reigning FIFA player of the year Lionel Messi in South Africa.
The year was 1958. The event was the World Cup. The venue was the Rasunda Stadium in Stockholm, Sweden. The player? Pele.
After losing at home to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final in Brazil, and four years later losing to Hungary, 4-2, in the quarterfinal match in Switzerland, this was definitely Brazil's year.
More importantly, this Cup and scenario put Edson Arantes do Nascimento, familiarly known as "Pele" to this day, on the map.
The 17-year-old Brazilian scored an amazing, jaw-dropping goal at the 55th minute that put host Sweden out of contention in the second half of final. Pele would later use similar moves in capturing the 1962 and '70 World Cups for the Selecao.
Although considered a goat for choking in the 1994 World Cup final penalty shootout against Brazil and not winning in his home country Italia four years earlier, the young Baggio at the time struck a resounding nerve on this resilient attack.
Who knows, his stats and performance might have awakened the sleepy Azzurri, who were dominant back in the 1930s, won again in 1982 yet did not achieve greatness again until the last World Cup in Germany.
This goal of the century in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City, Mexico, was perhaps the fireworks that exploded in a game with both heavy historical and controversial leanings.
Here was the flamboyant midfielder, No. 10 of Argentina, who wanted to take his country's team back to glory after being victorious in 1978. Yet here was a man who, along with being arrogant and talented, scored on a "Hand of God" goal in the 51st minute against England, a country that gone to war with Argentina over the Falklands in 1982.
Even though officials never withdrew the hand ball, Maradona took this "revenge" game personally, as he made up for the questionable call four minutes later with a 75-yard scamper that the Brits were never ready for. Or couldn't handle.
This was Maradona's year and, of course, his own World Cup, too.
Choosing only 10 clips was hard enough. So, I'm cheating by adding five more that I'm sure you would add to your list as well.
1. Saeed Owairan of Saudi Arabia, 1994 World Cup
2. Carlos Alberto of Brazil, 1970 World Cup
3. Dennis Bergkamp of Holland, 1998 World Cup
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden, Ajax
5. George Best of England, San Jose Earthquakes/NASL