Top 10 Backheel Goals of All Time
I was delegated this assignment from on-high by the Gods of Bleacher Report and initially I thought it was a bit of a silly article to write. Back-heeled goals? Who Cares?
But then I had the now customary change of heart. Football is about entertainment. It is a game we watch to marvel at the skill and precision of fantastic professional athletes. There is no shame in this.
Not all football commentary has to be serious. Not all of it has to be about signings, formations, back-room politics and financial planning. There is still a market for the childish glee of watching the sport and getting lost in the sheer beauty of this glorious game.
And with that in mind, here is a trivial and non-consequential but (hopefully) highly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable list on back-heeled goals. Enjoy it for what it is ladies and gentlemen, and remember there is no shame in it...because at the end of the day, isn't enjoyment the whole point of the game?
No.10: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The lanky swede makes his first appearance on the list here.
Often criticized for his laconic demeanor and willingness to experiment at inopportune moments, Ibrahimovic is somewhat of a polarizing figure. However what cannot be disputed is that the man is a fantastically gifted player who at any time can do something transcendent on the field.
This was an equalizing goal in the group stages of Euro 2004, and it was an absolutely sublime piece of improvisation and audacity that utterly confounded one of the finest 'keepers on the planet.
No.9: Alex Del Piero
The Italian maestro has forged a fearsome reputation for scoring awesome goals.
And that reputation was never more justified than in the Champions League final of 1997 where littke Alex scored this absolute beauty against eventual champions of Europe Borussia Dortmund,
Having the nerve to do this in such a big game is the reason Del Piero will be remembered as one of this generations greatest players.
No. 8 : Roberto Mancini
Before he was a walking hairdo coaching Manchester Cities hired guns, Roberto Mancini was a footballer of special magnificence.
He was a deadly striker and a cunning creative force who led the lines of successful Sampdoria and Lazio sides before retiring after a brief and ignominious stay at Leicester City.
He was well known for scoring fine goals, and this is an example of one of his most daring and enduring moments on the field.
No.7: Kendi Kalesine
I have no clue who this lad is. Never heard of him.
But that really doesn't matter. What a goal.
No.6: Thierry Henry
As a proud Irishman, it breaks my heart to put Henry on the list.
But objectivity must prevail and this is a great goal from one of the greatest strikers to ever grace the game.
Whatever. He's still a cheat.
No.5: Rafa Van Der Vaart
Rafa Van der Vaart was somewhat of a forgotten man as The Netherlands steamed into the 2010 World Cup final before losing to Spain.
Highly regarded as a young man at Ajax for his skill, pace and vision as well as an eye for goal, he was signed and swallowed up by the talent destroying monster that is Real Madrid and relegated to a bench role for both club and country.
Luckily for Rafa, Tottenham Hotspurs have since given him a second chance and he has repaid that faith with the sort of play that has made him already a household name for casual watchers of the Premier League.
This goal is an example early in his career of what was to follow. Truly sublime athleticism, imagination and execution.
No.4: Leopoldo Luque
Although he never graced the European Leagues, Leopoldo Luque was a top class Argentine striker through the '70s who helped Argentina win the 1978 World Cup by scoring four goals in the tournament.
Few of them, I'm sure, were as glorious as this one which showcases the silky skills and brash confidence of a top class striker in form. This is a thing of beauty.
No.3: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Yes he's been on the list before. And yes there are other goals available that could have easily found their way on instead.
But how could I have a list without this goal? How?????
No.2: Matty Burrows
Its the 92nd minute. The game has been a painful scoreless draw and the crowd hasn't had anything to cheer. Some people are leaving, trudging desolately to their cars confident that they will miss nothing other than mind numbing mediocrity.
Step forward Matty Burrows.
With a stark lesson in the merits of staying till the final whistle, Burrows lit up a dismal evening of sub-standard football in an average-at-best league with a moment of ingenuity and skill fit to grace even the highest footballing occasion. Pure class.
No.1: Gianfranco Zola
You all knew he was on here somewhere.
While he was never prolific, he was always magnificent. He played the game with a smile on his face and a skip in his step. He was a magical playerone of the true legends of the Premier League—who lit up many a dull afternoon with a flick or a pass or a shot.
This is perhaps his greatest ever moment. A fitting tribute perhaps that sums up one of the most instinctive and entertaining men to ever lace up a pair of boots.
The list is all personal preference so it won't be to everyone's agreement, but will I'm sure be to everyone's tastes. I doubt anyone will argue that those were not 10 truly special goals.
Don't comment about the order being wrong because, lets face it, nobody cares. But do feel free to lambast selections in general and propose replacements. I'm a big boy. I can take it.
I do hope you all enjoyed it and hope that, if nothing else, this list and the spirit in which it is intended will remind some of you to—every now and thentake a step away from the hyper-serious analysis of the game that we all tend to get so caught up in and remember that, at the end of the day, its all just a bit of craic.