- MATTHIAS SINDELAR VS GERMANY (1938)
Austrian forward Matthias Sindelar was one of the finest footballers of the 1930s. By 1938, the political climate in Europe had changed. As Austria headed for a meaningless draw in their last independent game before Anschluss, Sindelar of ‘Jewish’ Vienna scored and celebrated extravagantly in front of Nazi officials. It would be his final goal as he was found dead the following year under suspicious circumstances. His act of defiance showed how sport could stand up to totalitarianism.
- FERENC PUSKAS VS ENGLAND (1953)
In 1953, England held superiority over the rest of the game in their eyes as founders of association football. This delusion of grandeur vanished in one night in Wembley as Hungary’s Magical Magyars thrashed England 6-3. The goal by Ferenc Puskas best demonstrated the ‘Harlem Globetrotter’-esque prowess of the Hungarians. The forward’s exquisite pull-back and powerful shot humbled England and left them pondering their position in the global game.
- PELE VS SWEDEN (1958)
17-year-old Pele had barely played top-level football for his club when he was included in Brazil’s squad for the 1958 World Cup. The teenager helped Brazil banish the demons of Maracanazo in spectacular fashion. His goal in the final, a spectacular flick over the defender and volley into the corner was one of the goals of the competition. A star was born and football would have its first worldwide icon.
- GEORGE BEST VS BENFICA (1966)
George Best was the ultimate 60s player and his goal against Benfica in 1966 caused his reputation to soar. A quick counter goal, displaying trickery, balance and composure in front of goal caused the European press to nickname the Northern Irishman “El Beatle”. A serial partier who transcended the game, Best would enhance the celebrity aspect of football and lay the foundations for footballer’s private lives becoming the interest of the public.
- CARLOS ALBERTO VS ITALY (1970)
All team goals are generally judged against this goal which sealed Brazil’s third World Cup. From Clodoaldo’s dribble out of defence to Carlos Alberto’s powerful right-foot shot, the goal crowned one of football’s greatest teams. It was also broadcast on colour television for the first time, meaning that the whole world was witness to such skill clearer than ever before. It cemented football’s nickname as ‘The Beautiful Game’ for years to come.
- JOHAN CRUYFF VS HELMOND SPORT (1982)
It may have come years after the peak of Total Football but Cruyff’s penalty against Helmond Sport symbolises its joie de vivre. By choosing to pass from a penalty instead of shoot, even the individual act of taking a penalty was turned into a team exercise. It was his vision to push football’s boundaries which made his philosophy so successful. It is no surprise it is still alive and well today at FC Barcelona.
- OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER VS BAYERN MUNICH (1999)
Manchester United trailed Bayern Munich by a goal heading into stoppage-time of the Champions League final. An injury-time goal by Teddy Sheringham stole victory from the Germans at the death but more remarkably, the Red Devils scored a second goal within three minutes to leave them the most surprising European champions. One of the greatest comebacks, Solskjaer’s goal showed that no game is over until the final whistle.
- JIMMY GLASS VS PLYMOUTH ARGYLE (1999)
Carlisle United faced Plymouth Argyle in the last game of the season needing a win to avoid relegation out of the Football League. Drawing with ten seconds remaining, goalkeeper Jimmy Glass became the unlikeliest of saviours as he volleyed home the winner, coming up for a corner in a last-ditch attempt to score. A euphoric pitch invasion ensued and there is no better goal than Glass’s to highlight the pure emotion of football.
- ESTEBAN CAMBIASSO VS SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO (2006)
In the late 2000s, possession football became a style of football to aspire to thanks to the complete dominance of Spain and Barcelona with ‘tika-taka’. However, if writing a book on the success of ‘tika-taka’, the prologue might include this wonderful goal from Argentina in the World Cup where Cambiasso scored after 25 fantastic passes that stretched the pitch and showed just how much damage smart ball retention could do to opponents.
- CRISTIANO RONALDO VS ARSENAL (2009)
The counter attack had been around for a long time but in the tika-taka era it stood out more. Quick transition from defence into attack is probably the most dominant tactic used in the world today. It was seen no better here in the Champions League semi-final as from Cristiano Ronaldo’s first touch to his last to score past the keeper took only eight seconds. The blistering efficiency and outstanding athleticism continues to appeal.