World Football: Ranking the Top 10 Most Outrageous Goals of 2011 so Far
Who doesn’t love a great goal?
Millions of us flock to the internet on a daily basis to seek footage of Barcelona’s latest 30-pass build-up goal or that must-see Serie A screamer. Fans, journalists and pundits love to pick tactics apart and debate footballing philosophies, but nothing quite matches the adrenaline rush of a 25-yard rocket swerving into the top corner.
Diego Maradona vs. England at the 1986 World Cup, Zinedine Zidane vs. Bayer Leverkuson in the 2002 Champion’s League final, Archie Gemmill vs. the Netherlands in 1978: football’s past is littered with such moments of brilliance and this will continue for as long as the sport is played. Tactical trends will come and go, clubs’ fortunes will fluctuate and new rules and regulations will change the face of the game, but football history will always have a place for outstanding goals.
2011 may only be four-and-a-half months old but this year has already brought us countless wonder-strikes. This list is a tribute: a salute to those great moments that fill us with awe and stay etched in our memories for years to come. Here, from across the globe, are 10 of 2011’s most outrageous goals thus far.
10. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United vs. Manchester City, 12th February)
If you haven't seen this goal yet then you've probably spent most of 2011 living under a rock. Wayne Rooney's overhead kick has by far been Britain's most talked about goal in 2011, and for good reason.
United winger Nani collects the ball near the edge of the area and floats a deflected cross into the box. Rooney, who was enduring a period of rancid form at the time, judges the flight of the ball perfectly. His elevation is sublime as he leaps from the ground to smash and overhead kick past a stranded Joe Hart and into the Man City goal.
This goal not only sealed United's victory in the Manchester derby but also kick-started a stuttering Rooney's season. The Englishman has been sublime for United ever since, and will surely look back on this as one of the greatest goals of his career.
Why only number 10? Although Rooney does excellently to judge the ball's flight, there's an element of fortune in there because of the deflection. Secondly, it hits his shin. Sure, it's about as sweet a connection you'll see between ball and shin, but it still takes some of the gloss off. Besides, Rooney's goal isn't even the best overhead kick on this list...
9. Freddy Guarin (FC Porto vs. Maritimo, 8th January)
This is an absolutely exquisite hit. Porto's Guarin is clear in the middle of the park and his plenty of time to line his shot up, but nobody should be able to score with such power from this kind of range.
After some brief wing-play, Colombian Guarin picks the ball up in the middle of the park and leashes the mother of all long-range drives. His dipping, swerving strike evades the Maritimo keeper and glides into the top corner to help the Portuguese champions-elect to a comfortable 4-1 victory over their opponents.
Guarin has only recently established himself in the first-team this season, but goal of this quality he'll be there for a long, long time. If you don't think the goal itself is worthy of inclusion then perhaps this clip is worthwhile for the player's reaction alone.
8. Miralem Sulejmani (Ajax vs. NAC Breda, 27th January)
Serbian Sulejmani signed for Ajax for a hefty €16.25m fee in 2008 and, up until this point, had largely been considered a disappointing signing. Ajax had been so underwhelmed with his performances that they'd agreed to sell him to West Ham United last summer only for the move to fall through after Sulejmani wasn't granted a work permit.
Though Sulejmani is clearly blessed with immense talent he has been wildly inconsistent for Ajax. Sublime one moment but terrible the next, Sulejmani has always threatened to develop into a world-class player but has never been able to put everything together.
The Serbian finishes off a sweeping counter-attack with aplomb. Collecting the ball on the edge of the box, Sulejmani has plenty of time to size-up his shot but the finish is just sublime. A swooping strike with the outside of the boot glides into the top corner, leaving the goalkeeper stranded and Ajax fans wishing Sulejmani could produce this kind of magic on a more consistent basis.
7. Yusef Ahmed (Qatar vs. China, 11th January)
This spring's AFC Asian Cup may have went over a lot of football fans' heads but this peach is as worthy of your attention as any other goal scored this year. 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar had a disappointing competition and crashed-out to eventual winners Japan in the quarterfinals. This goal, scored by Ahmed in the competition's group stage, will surely go down as Qatar's highlight of the tournament.
A loose high-ball is headed towards Ahmed from near the halfway line. Ahmed, already turning, lets the ball bounce ahead of him before cushioning it on his knee and slamming a stunning volley into the top corner.
This goal, like much of the Asian Cup, didn't get the media attention it deserved. AFC president Mohammed Bin Hammam has spoken in great depth about the need for Qatari football to make its presence felt on the world stage before they host the World Cup, and what better an introduction than this goal?
6. Cheik Tiote (Newcastle United vs. Arsenal, 5th February)
Newcastle stand-out Joey Barton swings a trademark free-kick into the box that's headed away by an Arsenal defender. Tiote, the Magpies' hard-hitting central midfielder, lurks on the edge of the box. He waits for the ball to drop, swings a leg, and seconds later the ball's nestling in goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny's bottom corner.
Tiote's connection with the ball is undeniably sweet and he plants the ball in a position that makes it almost impossible to save. What makes this goal truly special, however, are the circumstances under which it was scored.
Newcastle found themselves 4-0 down after 26 minutes. Their game was over by half-time and all signs pointed to an all-out drubbing of the Tyneside club in the second half. Miraculously, Newcastle clawed their way back into the game. Two Barton penalties and a Leon Best strike preceded Tiote's goal before the imposing Ivorian popped-up with this outstanding equaliser to earn Newcastle a 4-4 draw in the 87th minute.
This goal stands on it own as an exceptional strike, but the context in which it was scored is what earns it such a high place on the list.
5. Theo Janssen (FC Twente vs. PSV Eindhoven, 2nd April)
Midfielder Janssen has been a stalwart in the Dutch Eredivisie since coming through the ranks at Vitesse in 1998. Known as a set-piece specialist with a sweet left foot, this will surely go down as the greatest individual goal Janssen has ever scored.
Janssen collects the ball inside his own half following a PSV set piece and launches a counter-attack. He's fortunate not to trip over a clumsy challenge from a PSV defender, but is still able to carry the ball to a tight angle inside the box. From there Janssen gently chips the ball goalwards. The ball floats through the air, curls past keeper Andreas Isaksson, sealing Twente's 2-0 victory.
Not only does Janssen show great pace and determination to get the ball to the opponent's box in the first place, but his technique on the shot is first class. His chip is as sweet as they come, and he gives the ball just enough weight to glide over the goalkeeper and drift into the net. Janssen makes an incredibly difficult shot look like the easiest thing in the world, and that's what makes this goal so good.
4. Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan vs. FC Schalke 04, 5th April)
Another goal that you've probably already seen, Stankovic's 50-yarder vs. Schalke in the Champions League is as sublime as it is ridiculous.
Luck is definitely a factor and Stankovic could hit this another 99 times without it hitting the back of the net once, but you have to admire his audacity. The goalkeeper's clearance lands perfectly for him and Stankovic, instead of taking a touch, hits one of the sweetest long-range volleys you'll ever see.
The technique on this shot speaks for itself. Not only does the ball hit the target but it moves at a velocity that should be impossible from this kind of range. Just sit back, press play, and enjoy.
3. Jimmy Briand (Lyon vs. Nancy, 18th February)
The fact that Wayne Rooney is English and plays for Manchester United means that his overhead kick will always overshadow Briand's in the eyes of mainstream media, but this is an unquestionably better goal.
Lyon's winger swings the ball in from a similar position to Nani in the assist for Rooney's goal. Initially the cross looks to be a poor one: Briand is moving forward and has to readjust himself to meet a ball that's going to land behind him. His overhead kick might not go into the top corner like Rooney's, but it sails under the bar with great pace making it completely unsaveable.
Briand's goal might not have been the winner in a heated local derby, but the ball makes a perfect connection with his foot before it hits the back of the net. He's given a bit more time than Rooney, who had a defender breathing down his neck, but Briand's technique on the strike is absolutely flawless. You will not see a crisper overhead kick scored anywhere.
2. Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands vs. Austria, 9th February)
This goal from Wesley Sneijder brings back recollections of some of the great Dutch sides and almost singlehandedly erases all memories of the pragmatic football they played at least summer's World Cup.
Put simply, this is an outstanding team goal. The ball moves forward from the Netherlands' end of the pitch with Sneijder playing a neat one-two the facilitate the fullbacks forward run. The ball eventually comes back to Sneijder who plays another one-two with one of his team-mates before smashing home one of the best volleys you'll see all year.
The finish is exceptional but the build-up is also outstanding. The Netherlands' quick, neat passing is reminiscent of the Totaalvoetbal sides of old, with Dutch passing pulling opposition players out of position and exploiting space for teammates to run onto.
Though outstanding last season, Sneijder has endured an unproductive 2010/11 for Inter Milan and has struggled under managers Rafa Benitez and Leonardo. This goal is a stark reminder of the quality he possesses lest we forget.
1. Yohandry Orozco (Venezuela U20's vs Peru U20's, 25th January)
If Wesley Sneijder's goal against Austria was an outstanding team goal then this is surely the perfect example of an outstanding solo goal.
You may never hear the name Yohandry Orozco ever again, but this clip shows that exceptional goals can be found even in the most obscure of competitions. Comparing a young Latin American player to Diego Maradona is almost always premature and grossly inappropriate, but Orozco's mazy run and stunning finish are not too far removed from the great Argentine's 1986 World Cup goal against England.
Picking the ball up just inside the opposition half, Orozco puts the pedal to the metal. His quick feet having already left one Peruvian midfielder stuck, Orozco skips past one sliding challenge before shimmying through another. With three men beaten, Orozco knocks the ball ahead of him and unleashes an unstoppable 20-yard strike that flies into the top corner.
The 20-year-old just just put pen to paper on a four-year deal with German side Wolfsburg who will surely provide the kind of stage that his talent deserves. He may never develop into a world-beater, but if this goal is anything to go by then Yohandry Orozco already possesses the technical tools to go all the way. He burns the Peruvian players for pace and jinks past others as if they weren't there. The ball remains seemingly glued to his feet throughout, and never once does he look like losing it. And the shot? Well, that speaks for itself.