15 Best Signature Moves in Football History
Football is a team sport, but there's still plenty of room for individualism.
The best team usually wins, but the best, most creative players are often remembered longest. And that's because their creativity often shows in memorable ways.
Take these 15 signature moves for example*. All of these moves have been performed by hundreds or thousands of players, but each of them will be forever associated with one player**.
Let's get right to the list.
*Not in any order.
**Actually, sometimes two or more players are known for using a move. In those cases we chose, well, whoever we felt like choosing.
Johan Cruyff: The Cruyff Turn
Simple. Elegant. Devastating.
Defenders couldn't stop the Cruyff turn. And Johan Cruyff couldn't stop using it during his glittering career with Ajax, Barcelona and the Netherlands.
Basically, the Cruyff turn is exactly what it sounds like: A turn. What made it difficult to defend was the fake right before it.
To pull it off, Cruyff acted like he was about to pass but then stopped his leg and instead used it to turn the ball behind his body in one smooth motion.
Yeah, we know the Elastico was invented by Rivelino. We just think Ronaldinho did it much better.
You be the judge. Here are some of Rivelino's moves. Ronaldinho's are in the video at the left.
Here's the gist of the move. An attacking player dribbles the ball out in front of himself so as to make the defender think there's a chance to make an interception. But before the ball gets there, the attacker pulls it back and runs around the defender.
Like we said, Ronaldinho did it best.
Cristiano Ronaldo: The Ronaldo Chop
But he's also a great player. Plus, he has a great—if annoying—signature move, the Ronaldo Chop.
There he is, kindly demonstrating it for us on the left side of the screen. Here's an instructional video, just in case you're interested in learning the move yourself.
Cuauhtémoc Blanco: Cuauhtemiño
Cuauhtémoc Blanco isn't all that well known outside Mexico, but in his home country he's a legend.
One of the reasons for that legendary status is the Cuauhtemiño, his signature move. Blanco unveiled it to the world at the World Cup and has kept on using it (Max Bretos is aggravating in that clip, huh? Really, Max? The bunny hop?) ever since.
It's not too difficult to pull off. When two players are defending Blanco, he secures the ball with both feet and jumps between them.
Strange, but effective—and totally unique.
Kerlon: Seal Dribble
A few years back, Kerlon was supposed to be The Next Big Thing in Brazilian football. With his unstoppable Seal Dribble, Kerlon was headed to the top.
Problem was, the Seal Dribble infuriated opposing players. They often resorted to violent tactics to stop Kerlon and his fancy skills.
Kerlon, now 23, still hasn't appeared for the full Brazilian national team.
Garrincha: The Garrincha Turn
Jean-Pierre Papin: La Papinade
If you've played football, chances are you've pulled off a volley or two. And you might have even scored a goal with a volleyed shot.
In other words, a volley isn't exactly a unique move. But Jean-Pierre Papin, a French footballer otherwise lacking in a certain je ne sais quoi, scored so many volleyed goals that the move has become known as a Papinade.
So whenever you score your next volleyed goal, make sure you send out a merci to Jean-Pierre.
Antonin Panenka: The Panenka
Jesper Olsen: Rigtig Jesper Olsen
Not all signature moves are created equal. Some are a lot more hilarious than others.
Take this one for example. That's Denmark's Jesper Olsen gifting Spain a goal in the 1986 World Cup with an awful square pass in his own defensive third.
Stupid. Just plain stupid. Even in Under-8 American soccer leagues they teach you not to play the ball across your own box. Stupid.
How stupid? Allow the Guardian to explain:
Meanwhile in Denmark, a hospital pass is known as a 'rigtig Jesper Olsen' ('a real Jesper Olsen'). "It's named after Olsen's square ball across his own defence that set up Spain's equaliser in Denmark's 1986 World Cup match," explains Aidan Curran. "Having been 1-0 down, Spain went on to destroy the Danes 5-1. Sometimes Danish politicians use the term to mock an opponent's blunder or gaffe."
Nothing like doing something so dumb on a football pitch that it allows politicians to call you stupid. Nothing.
Francesco Totti: Cucchiaio
Ah, Francesco Totti—the master of all things arrogant.
Like, for instance, his trademark goal: A cheeky chipped shot over the goalkeeper.
It's called cucchiaio, which translates to "spoon" in standard Italian. No, we don't get it either. Totti's biography is titled Tutto Totti: Mo je faccio er cucchiaio, the second part of which is apparently Romanesco for I'm Going to Chip Him.
Go figure. We thought it might mean "I'm Going to Spoon Him."
Honestly, that would be better.
Ricardo Infante: The Rabona
The Rabona has been done and done and done. Where did it come from?
From Ricardo Infante, an Argentine striker who played from 1942 to 1961. Wikipedia explains:
The first rabona was performed by Ricardo Infante in a game between Argentine teams Estudiantes de la Plata and Rosario Central in 1948. After it, soccer magazine El Grafico set up a front cover showing Infante (in Spanish "infant") dressed as a pupil with the caption "Infante played hooky" ("rabona" in Spanish means to play hooky or to skip school). Since then the play has been called a rabona.
When Robinho is not busy dreaming about sex, he's often dazzling fans with his skills.
His best move is known as the pedalada. It's basically Robinho's take on a fancy stepover.
Rodrigo Taddei: Aurelio
Rodrigo Taddei is a Brazilian footballer who plays for AS Roma. He has never appeared for Brazil at any level.
After watching Taddei perform his trademark move, Aurelio, you might wonder why that's the case.
Ricardo Quaresma: Trivela
Lots of players pass and shoot with the outside of their feet, but only Ricardo Quaresma would have the huevos to claim it as his signature move.
OK, maybe Totti would, too. But only maybe.
Rene Higuita: The Scorpion Kick
Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita performed his outrageous Scorpion Kick against England at Wembley in 1995.
In case you were wondering: Yes, the Scorpion Kick was responsible for one of the best own goals of all time.