10 goals that made the world gasp

FourFourTwo recalls the strikes that rocked planet football…

1. On yer bike, son

So called [the bicycle kick] because Parola was a keen cyclist. Easy!

Chile, Peru, Brazil, Spain, Italy and Mexico all claim to be the birthplace of the overhead kick, but the earliest competitive example of football’s most difficult-to-execute goal was probably in 1939 when Carlo Parola, 18, helped Juventus beat Fiorentina with a rovesciata (‘bicycle kick’), so called because Parola was a keen cyclist. Easy! 

2. Proud Germany reborn in Berne

If Helmut Rahn’s late winner for West Germany in the 1954 World Cup Final had just been about football, it still would have been extraordinary. From 2-0 down to Hungary’s Magical Magyars, who trounced them 8-3 in their group, the Germans’ 3-2 win was one of football’s biggest shocks. But it’s also regarded as a seminal moment in post-war German history; the moment they became a proud nation again. Powerful.

Helmut Rahn scores the winner against Hungary

The ball rolls past Hungarian keeper, Gyula Grosics

3. Henry becomes public enemy No.1

One minute you’re Thierry Henry: loved by team-mates, feared by the opposition and admired by fans the world over. The next, you’re Thierry Henry: football überbastard, so vilified you’re forced to flee to America and grow a Fredi Kanoute beard. Until returning as a Sky Sports pundit, of course.

Titi’s handball-inspired assist for William Gallas’ goal that sent France to the 2010 World Cup at the expense of Ireland looks certain to be legacy-defining.

4. Out now: Madagascar 149 – Goalfest!

Madagascan champs Stade Olympique L’Emyrne protested against biased refereeing by scoring 149 own goals against AS Adema

Not so much one shocking goal as 149 of them. In 2002, Madagascan champs Stade Olympique L’Emyrne protested against perceived biased refereeing by scoring 149 own goals against AS Adema.

While four of SOE’s players and their coach were given lengthy suspensions, they did at least break the world record for goals scored in a senior game, which had stood since Arbroath’s 36-0 drubbing of Bon Accord in 1885.

5. Maracanazo (aka ‘don’t make Brazil angry)

Blame Uruguay. More specifically, blame Alcides Ghiggia. In the final four-team group stage of the 1950 World Cup, hosts and favourites Brazil merely had to draw against Uruguay to win their first World Cup. The headlines had been printed, the medals engraved, Jules Rimet’s trophy presentation speech even prepared in Portuguese. But Uruguay came from behind to win 2-1 and silence 200,000 in the Maracana, Ghiggia grabbing the winner. 

Pundits retired, fans topped themselves, Brazil changed a ‘jinxed’ white kit to yellow and the sight of his dad crying made a young Pele vow to win Brazil the World Cup. You shouldn’t have made them angry, Uruguay.

6. Maradona’s hand of God (of course)

The most talked-about goal in history summed up the madness, badness and genius of Diego Maradona, intensified the England-Argentina rivalry and, according to the man himself, said much about English fair play.

Though Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ claims and Falklands War references were antagonistic, he later remarked that for the goal – and the brilliant solo effort four minutes later – any other team would have scythed him down long before he reached the 18-yard box. Bygones then, Diego.

Diego Maradona handles the ball past England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton


7. Puskas drags England into the future

Despite humiliation by the USA at their only World Cup appearance, England believed they were the kings of football in 1953. Wrong, and one mesmeric piece of skill showed it. Cruising 2-1 on their way to inflicting England’s first home defeat (6-3) by a team from outside the British Isles, Hungary extended their lead through talisman Ferenc Puskas, whose dragback left revered captain Billy Wright tackling fresh air before the Galloping Major rifled home.

It was Total Football before the term existed. 
Cue much navel-gazing that would eventually lead to 1966 and all that.

8. Escobar pays the ultimate price

You know what happened to Andres Escobar days after his own goal helped knock Colombia out of USA 94. You might even think you know why. But as shocking and horrifying as the murder of the defender was, it took until 2010’s The Two Escobars – part of ESPN’s groundbreaking 30 for 30 documentary series – for the full extent of Colombian football’s murky relationship with drug cartels to be revealed. Check it out.

RECOMMENDED The legacy of USA 94: why two big misses didn't prevent a World Cup hit

9. Unbelievable, Geoff – and about time, too

“We applaud Herr Hurst’s confession,” said the German FA in April 2010, after Sir Geoff finally ’fessed up that his second goal in the 1966 World Cup Final didn’t cross the line. Of course, a shot that hits the bar then the goal-line has been called a ‘Wembley-Tor’ in Germany for decades. What’s German for goal-line technology?

RECOMMENDED The 1966 World Cup Final like you've never seen it before

10. Fergie saved by reliant Robins 

Imagine if the Nazis won the war; if Apollo 11 hadn’t landed on the moon; if Mark Robins hadn’t scored the winner against Forest in the third round of the 1990 FA Cup.

Despite what the Man United board subsequently claimed, after seven winless games Alex Ferguson was one defeat away from the sack. Up stepped super sub Robins; the rest is trophy-laden history.

Mark Robins celebrates against Nottingham Forest

"Thank me later boss!"

This feature first appeared in the December 2012 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. Subscribe!

Goals: they're beautiful aren't they? This article is part of FourFourTwo's partnership with BetVictor and their Million Pound Goal campaign. Find out how to enter and more here.

More features every day on FFT.com