World Football: 50 Most Amazing Goals Ever Scored
Every goal counts the same, or so the world keeps trying to convince us.
That's rubbish, if you ask us. Every goal might count the same on the scoreboard, but all goals are not created equal.
Some goals are sublime. Some are beautiful. Some seem to transcend human ability.
Some goals change the course of games—and, in some cases, seasons and careers.
Some goals determine league, continental and world champions.
So, no, all goals don't count the same. Even if everyone tries to convince us otherwise.
With that in mind, we've compiled a list of our top 50 goals. Ever.
We're sure you won't argue with any of them. And we're sure you won't have any complaints.
OK, so the sarcasm ends there. But seriously: What did we get right? What did we bollocks up? Which glaring omission would you like to bring to our attention?
Take a look at our list, and then have at it.
50. George Best, San Jose Earthquakes vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, NASL, 1981
Sure, the opposition in the NASL was crap, but this goal was pure class.
Which is better, though? The goal or the commentators?
By the way, we'll see a lot more of Georgie Best on the countdown.
49. Marta, Brazil vs. USA, 2007 Women's World Cup
Let's give the women their due.
This is a superb example of the Brazilian beautiful game.
We doubt many of the men could do it any better.
48. Andrea Pirlo, AC Milan vs. Parma, Champions League, 2010
We're partial to older goals because it's easier to understand their historical context.
This goal from 2010, though, has to be included in the list.
Andrea Pirlo gathered the ball in the middle of the park, took a few dribbles and decided there was nothing better to do than shoot.
With that kind of precision in your shot, wouldn't you?
47. Johnny Metgod, Nottingham Forest vs. West Ham United, 1986
You can't hit the ball any harder than that.
You just can't.
46. Mickey Walsh, Blackpool vs. Sunderland, 1975
This was the goal of the year in 1975.
It's easy to see why. Mickey Walsh dribbled along the 18-yard box on the right side and curled in a gorgeous shot at the far post.
And he did it with a bunch of mud on his behind.
45. David Beckham, England vs. Greece, 2002 World Cup Qualifying
England trailed Greece 2-1 in the third minute of stoppage time in a 2002 World Cup qualifier.
With Germany drawing against Finland, England needed a draw to qualify for the 2002 Cup automatically.
David Beckham took a free kick 30 yards out. If he scored, England would be in.
He got it done under pressure with an outrageously nice goal.
You can't get more clutch than that.
44. Paul Scholes, Manchester United vs. Bradford City, 2000
This was a perfect volley from Paul Scholes, taken with the outside of his right foot.
43. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United vs. Newcastle United, 2005
Speaking of a perfect volley, this one from Wayne Rooney was even better.
42. Vasily Rats, USSR vs. France, 1986 World Cup
Few sights in world football are better than the long-range strike into the upper corner.
This goal from the USSR's Vasily Rats at the 1986 World Cup serves as a great example.
41. Socrates, Brazil vs. USSR, 1982 World Cup
Maybe Rats got the idea from Socrates four years earlier.
The Brazilian star did the exact same thing—only better—against the USSR in the 1982 Cup.
40. Thierry Henry, Arsenal vs. Manchester United, 2000
Before Thierry Henry was a legend, he was an unproven enigma at Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger brought Henry to London in 1999. The young French star quickly made a name for himself.
This brilliant, unstoppable volley is one of the early goals that contributed to the legend.
39. Kanu, Arsenal vs. Chelsea, 1999
This goal by Kanu completed a 15-minute hat trick for Arsenal that turned a late 2-0 deficit into 3-2 win over Chelsea.
First, Kanu rounded the goalkeeper, who had come off his line and out of the box.
Then, from an impossible angle, he beat two defenders who were covering the line.
38. Archie Gemmill, Scotland vs. Netherlands, 1978 World Cup
Scotland needed to beat the Netherlands by three goals to advance out of its group in the 1978 World Cup.
With his team up 2-1 already, Archie Gemmill contributed with this wonderful individual goal.
Gemmill beat four defenders, then the keeper, to put Scotland up 3-1.
Scotland ended up winning 3-2 and didn't advance, but Gemmill's goal nearly put them through against the eventual runner-up.
37. Ernie Hunt, Coventry City vs. Everton, 1970
Ernie Hunt's volley was spectacular, but the thought behind this goal puts it in our list.
Willie Carr was the man who set up the goal by putting the ball in the air.
It's still legal. We don't understand why more teams don't try it.
36. Liam Brady, Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 1978
First, Liam Brady won the ball from a Tottenham defender.
Then, he curled his shot past the goalie with an unstoppable shot.
That's tough to do with the outside of your foot.
35. Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United vs. Porto, 2009
Say what you will about Cristiano Ronaldo. We do all the time.
The dude is an amazing player. This goal shows that.
How far out was he? Forty yards? Forty-five?
34. Hamit Altintop, Turkey vs. Kazakhstan, 2010
Cristiano Ronaldo's goal won the inaugural FIFA Puskás Award for the world's top goal. Hamit Altintop's won the award the following year, 2010.
We think Altintop's was better.
33. Trevor Sinclair, Queens Park Rangers vs. Barnsley, 1997
This is our first overhead kick on the countdown, but it won't be the last.
Trevor Sinclair's effort makes the list for the amount of time the ball stayed in the air. He had to time his leap and kick perfectly.
He did just that.
32. Norman Whiteside, Manchester United vs. Everton, 1985 FA Cup Final
Norman Whiteside's goal against Everton was excellent already, but it gets extra points for coming in the 1985 FA Cup final.
And for being the match winner. In extra time.
31. Ronaldo, Barcelona vs. Compostela, 1996
The original Ronaldo showed why he's the best Ronaldo with this goal.
The goal displayed his strength, skill, speed and finishing all on the same play.
30. Emilio Butragueño, Real Madrid vs. Cadiz
This one is rightly remembered as a golazo.
Emilio Butragueño showed expert skill to round the keeper and stay inbounds before scoring.
29. Ricardo Villa, Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City, 1981 FA Cup Final
This goal by Ricky Villa proved to be the match-winner for Spurs in the 1981 FA Cup final.
It's a goal worthy of such distinction, too. Check out how many defenders Villa dribbled through before he found the net.
28. Zico, Brazil vs. Scotland, 1982 World Cup
Start the video around the 0:31 mark. Then watch the free-kick brilliance.
27. Justin Fashanu, Norwich City vs. Liverpool, 1980
For our money, this goal by Norwich's Justin Fashanu is better than Thierry Henry's similar effort.
Also, remember how great Liverpool was at the time, and how bad Fashanu's career and life turned out after this goal.
26. Michael Owen, England vs. Argentina, 1998 World Cup
This one tends to be a bit overrated by England fans. But it's still a classic.
Little Mickey Owen was a teenager at the time. It was the World Cup. And it was against Argentina.
It's still a bit hard to believe.
25. Roberto Carlos, Real Madrid vs. Tenerife, 1998 Copa Del Rey
Roberto Carlos was literally on the byline when he shot/passed this goal into the net.
Was he really shooting? We don't think so. That's why we have it this low.
24. Saeed Al-Owairan, Saudi Arabia vs. Belgium, 1994 World Cup
An absolutely stunning goal.
Saeed Al-Owairan of Saudi Arabia ran through practically the entire Belgium team—and across practically the whole pitch—to score perhaps the goal of the 1994 Cup.
If Al-Owairan played for a more celebrated country, this goal would get much more attention than it already does.
23. Ronnie Bradford, Hereford United vs. Newcastle United, 1972 FA Cup
Now that's a man's goal.
Ronnie Bradford won the ball, overcame the muddy conditions and scored with an unbelievable strike against Newcastle in the 1972 FA Cup.
This remains one of the most memorable goals in the competition's history.
22. John Barnes, England vs. Brazil, 1984
We agree with Barnesy. We can't believe he did that either.
He looked absolutely possessed (with footballing brilliance) on this strike against the Samba masters.
21. Glenn Hoddle, Tottenham Hotspur vs. Watford, 1983
Outstanding, really. In one touch, Glenn Hoddle collected the ball, turned and beat the defender.
With his next, he chipped the goalkeeper expertly.
If it had come in a big match against big-time opposition, this goal might be one of the all-time classics.
20. Lothar Matthäus, Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen, 1992-93
How did he do that?
Sometimes it's best to just shake your head and move on.
19. George Best, Manchester United vs. Sheffield United, 1971
This is a classic example of a forward using misdirection to dominate a defense.
Georgie Best did it as well as anyone: Run as hard, as fast and as long as you can away from the defenders and goalie, then deposit the ball at the back post.
If done right—as in, the Best way—it's unstoppable.
18. Ryan Giggs, Manchester United vs. Arsenal, 1998 FA Cup Semifinal
This Ryan Giggs goal tipped the balance in Manchester United's favor in the 1998 FA Cup semifinal replay against Arsenal.
He picked up the ball in his own half and ran about 70 yards to Arsenal's goal, blazing past several defenders in the process.
17. Esteban Cambiasso, Argentina vs. Serbia, 2006 World Cup
This is a glorious team goal with 25—count 'em 25!—passes.
The sweeping move just keeps building and building, increasing in urgency, incisiveness and skill. All the while, each player stays perfectly calm as the play bursts towards its crescendo.
Argentina's entire team contributed, and Esteban Cambiasso's finish was fittingly lethal.
16. Johann Cruyff, Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid, 1973
This goal doesn't seem all that impressive until you realize how high Johann Cruyff flew into the air to score it.
When he strikes the ball, his foot is around the same level as the goalkeeper's head. That means his body had to be between five and six feet in the air.
You try doing that at home.
Actually, don't. We don't need to get sued.
15. Roberto Carlos, Brazil vs. France, 1997
This goal is like that impossible art stuff. The more you look at it, the harder it is to figure out.
First, Roberto Carlos had to fight off Dunga (not generally considered a palatable proposition) just to take the kick.
Then he had to place the ball just so atop the grass. We shouldn't make fun—it clearly mattered!
Look at that swerve!
14. George Best, Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 1971
Best knew where the ball was going to land. And he knew exactly how much force was needed to chip it over everyone.
13. Yoann Gourcuff, Bordeaux vs. PSG, 2009
Stick around for the replays towards the end of the video. They show the true brilliance of the goal.
Gourcuff beat two defenders with outstanding close control by thinking two and three moves ahead.
Then he used the outside of his boot to curl the ball around the keeper.
12. George Weah, AC Milan vs. Verona, 1996
George Weah was so good, he could score from the other team's corners.
That's what he did on this amazing run-and-score that covered nearly the whole pitch.
It contained nearly everything we love in goals: Speed, power, control, finesse and finishing.
11. Hugo Sanchez, Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao, 1985
This is probably the best, most technically perfect bicycle-kick goal you'll ever see.
10. Paolo Di Canio, West Ham United vs. Wimbledon, 2000
When he wasn't flashing fascist salutes, Paolo Di Canio could score some of the most amazing goals the planet has ever seen.
This one, from a game against Wimbledon in 2000, certainly qualifies.
9. Marco Van Basten, Netherlands vs. USSR, Euro 1988 Final
As you can tell from this list, we love volleys.
Just watch this one. Words don't suffice.
8. Dennis Bergkamp, Netherlands vs. Argentina, 1998 World Cup Quarterfinal
Just look at the defender who was trying to stop Dennis Bergkamp.
After the goal, he just shakes his head.
What else could he have done?
7. Dennis Bergkamp, Arsenal vs. Newcastle United, 2002
So, yeah—we love us some Dennis Bergkamp. But can you blame us?
Check out this goal. Incredible.
Yes, he meant to do it. Before he was done with that first touch, he was already turning the opposite way to beat the defender.
6. Lionel Messi, Barcelona vs. Getafe, 2007 Copa Del Rey
We've seen this somewhere before, haven't we?
5. Carlos Alberto, Brazil vs. Italy, 1970 World Cup Final
This is the ultimate team goal.
The Brazilians don't look troubled at all by the occasion (the 1970 World Cup final!) or the opposition (the famed defenders of Italy).
If we could play like that, we wouldn't have been bothered either.
4. Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid vs. Bayer Leverkusen, 2002 Champions League Fina
Zizou didn't just volley the ball into the net.
He didn't just curl it into the top corner.
He did all of that with one touch, for the winning goal in the Champions League final.
3. Pele, Brazil vs. Sweden, 1958 World Cup Final
Pele was 17 years old.
It was the World Cup final.
The goal took immense skill and unbelievable confidence.
We'd later learn he was the best ever.
2. Ferenc Puskás, Hungary vs. England, 1953
So much talent. So much skill.
So level-headed in the box.
Ferenc Puskás could do no wrong.
1. Diego Maradona, Argentina vs. England, 1986 World Cup Quarterfinal
Not too long after he scored with the Hand of God, Maradona scored the glorious Goal of the Century.
Don't out-think yourself. This is the best goal of all time. Period.