The Tuesday 10: Goals of the Decade

FFT.com's Dan Ross flicks through the vids to find the finest efforts of the Noughties

Best Training Ground Routine: Paul Scholes v Bradford, 2000

Visitors to Old Trafford over the past couple of decades may have heard a rumour that Paul Scholes scores goals.

It has foundation: the Ginger Wizard has amassed 145 in over 620 appearances for Manchester United.

The statistics only tell half the story, though.

In Scholes’ collection are a host of sublime strikes that will live forever in the memory of the Red Devils faithful – with goals against Aston Villa in 2006 and Barcelona in the 2008 Champions League semi-final perfect examples of his prowess from the edge of the area.

But it's a goal at Bradford almost a decade ago that still stands out.

In a flawless move straight from the training ground, dead-ball specialist Becks floated an inch-perfect corner to lurking 25-yard specialist Scholes, who slammed home an impeccable first-time volley from the ‘D’ for a goal that perfectly summed up the talent in the United side at the turn of the century.

Best Dribbled Goal: Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs NAC Breda, 2004

There are two Zlatan Ibrahimovics. One is everything we love about football, the other everything we hate.

Barcelona’s £20m-more-than-Eto’o man switches effortlessly between the two.

In any one match the Swede will change from a disinterested jogger to a gifted artist and back again faster than you can say his name – a football schizophrenia that confounds fans and critics alike.

Not that he finds goals hard to come by.

He has racked up one-in-three records for Malmo, Juventus and Sweden; had a one-in-two record at Ajax and Inter; and his recent transfer to Barcelona has yielded 11 goals in 13 La Liga appearances.

His apparent apathy may disguise his talent for the best part of 90 minutes, but he always seems to hit the back of the net.

And, more often than not, hit it spectacularly.

‘Ibracadabra’ has a wealth of impossible flicks and backheels in his back catalogue; a player with an uncanny ability to pull an ace from his sleeve, as this goal against Breda proves.

Best Team Goal: Esteban Cambiasso v Serbia, 2006

While several of the goals on this list were crucial in terms of the in-game situation or the level of the occasion, this strike from Argentina’s midfield grafter Esteban Cambiasso is in the list solely on aesthetics. 

It had to be really - this sumptuous 25-pass move essentially meant nothing, coming as it did in the Abliceleste’s 6-0 demolition of Serbia in the Germany 2006 groups.

But it is one of the finest ever examples of team play and one of the iconic football moments of the decade.

A tidal wave of a goal, it starts off with patient passes and slowly gathers momentum as the move builds, turning into a crescendo of quick one-twos before Cambiasso’s crashing finish brought the watching world to its feet. 

Best Header: Steven Gerrard v Milan, 2005

The most remarkable comeback in European final history had to make the list.

If the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ was the finest football moment of the last decade, then this Steven Gerrard header was possibly the most important goal.

Milan’s sublime attacking play had devastated the Scousers, and given the Rossoneri a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead at the interval.

Maldini’s first-minute strike and a smart brace from Crespo had the Reds reeling.

Then Gerrard came alive to walk his club through the storm.

Finding himself free on the penalty spot, he rose majestically to meet a curling Riise cross and planted a sublime header into the top corner to inspire a Liverpool revival of unbelievable proportions.

Best Footwork: Yoann Gourcuff v PSG, 2009

Milan may forever regret their treatment of Yoann Gourcuff.

Despite the starlet having had little chance to impress at San Siro, Silvio Berlusconi sent the elegant playmaker back to France to spend last season on loan at Bordeaux – the team he signed for permanently in the summer.

When many would become jaded, Gourcuff simply seized the opportunity to shame his critics, and had an inspirational season with Les Girondins.

After scoring on his debut, he helped himself to 14 more goals and 15 assists in all competitions.

His magical performances drove his team to a Championship and League Cup double while earning him Ligue Un’s ‘Player of the Year’ award and this astonishingly skilful strike – almost indescribable, you just have to watch it, and preferably in slo-mo – against PSG was named ‘Goal of the Season’.

The goal shook a nation still mourning Zinedine Zidane’s departure and signaled the birth of a new Messiah.

‘Le Successeur!’ shouted L’Equipe, Le Figaro labelled him ‘Le Phenoneme’, but former France striker Christophe Dugarry summed it up best.

"That goal was no accident," Dugarry said.

"It showed there was something magical about him. I felt ill when Zidane retired. Watching Gourcuff has cured me. When I see players like him, I feel like a small boy again."

Best Maradona-esque Goal: Lionel Messi v Getafe, 2007

Most of the Argentinian wunderkinds that manage to procure a move to Europe are compared with Napoli and Albiceleste legend Diego Maradona, and Barcelona star Leo Messi is no different.

The diminutive Argentinian forward has been modestly shaking off such tags since his youth, but never has a label been so apt.

Particularly following this effort against Getafe in the Copa del Rey in 2007.

Echoing Maradona’s second against England in ’86, Messi collected inside his own half and flew past four tackles, danced around the keeper and tucked the ball past the lunge of the desperate last defender.

It was an unbelievable dash, with skill, pace and poise that lasted all of nine seconds, but told everyone exactly who was going to dominate football for the next decade.

Best First Goal: Wayne Rooney v Arsenal, 2002

Remember the name… Wayne Rooney!

Soundbite-seeking ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley made viewers cringe with his attempt, but he knew, as we all knew, that the first goal by Everton youngster Wayne Rooney was the beginning of something special.

A star had been born.

His name was not unfamiliar – football magazine shows, season previews and computer games had all hinted how exciting a prospect he was – but in one moment Wayne Rooney turned from a prospect into a sensation.

The kid had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes, and as the game was ebbing away he killed a dropping ball with a magnificent touch, turned and powered an unstoppable curling shot past David Seaman’s despairing fingertips.

The stunning strike not only announced the arrival of an extraordinary talent, it also announced the end of something extraordinary, as Everton’s win brought Arsenal's brilliant 30-match unbeaten run to a spectacular end.

Moaned Arsene Wenger after the game: "He's only supposed to be 16."

Best Free-Kick: David Beckham v Greece, 2001

Spectacularly proving Alan Hansen wrong; scoring from his own half against Wimbledon; getting sent off against Argentina – even before this iconic goal David Beckham was not renowned for doing things by halves.

Heading into the 94th minute, England were 2-1 down to Greece at Old Trafford and moments from requiring a play-off with the Ukraine to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

Teddy Sheringham was then fouled 30 yards from goal.

Given that Becks’ dead-balls had been more bronze than gold up to this point, Teddy was set to have a go himself.

But while the nation watched through squinted eyes, trembling hands and bitten fingernails, Becks never had a doubt in his mind where he was putting the ball.

He arrowed a beautiful curling free-kick into the top left corner, ensuring both England’s qualification and his transformation from national villain to national treasure.

The celebration is as iconic as the goal itself, Becks running toward the hysterical crowd, arms outstretched, England’s Messiah.

Best Overhead Kick: Rivaldo v Valencia, 2001

Sometimes, you wonder why exactly you're so obsessed with football.

But then the beautiful game writes scenarios like this and it all comes flooding back.

Before the final round of the 2000/01 La Liga season, Valencia were sitting in the final Champions League qualification berth, three points ahead of their nearest rivals with only a point needed to secure lucrative European football next term.

The difficulty was that they were playing their rivals in their final match.

Oh, and that said rivals were Barcelona.

The two heavyweights slugged it out in a thrilling contest, with a brace from Valencia’s Ruben Baraja twice cancelling out superb goals from the Blaugrana Brazilian Rivaldo.

Los Che had the point they need heading into the dying seconds, and Frank de Boer’s hopeful chip toward the front-men didn't seem to pose any real danger.

Even when it landed on Rivaldo’s chest there was little concern – he had his back to goal, and a wall of Valencia defenders between him and the net.

Moments later, a stunned Valencia side watched the Camp Nou go wild as Rivaldo tore away in wild celebration of an astounding acrobatic effort from the edge of the box that sealed a wonderful hat-trick, the win and a place in Europe. Magic.

Best Volley: Zinedine Zidane v Leverkusen, 2002

While those who managed to get tickets for the Champions League final in 2002 will count themselves among the luckiest football fans ever, Zinedine Zidane’s winning goal made me pleased I could not get a ticket.

Why? Quite simply, I would not have believed it.

At the ground I think I would have been so desperate to see a replay, I would have had to leave.

Even watching it now, I still can’t quite believe it happened.

It was the type of extraordinary goal usually confined to the PlayStation or schoolboys’ dreams, the sort of freak occurrence that justifies blokes texting other blokes, and the motivation behind the invention of Sky+.

Not only is this goal technically astonishing, but it also came on the biggest stage in club football and it was a winning goal.

If there was any doubt as to whether ‘Zizou’ had been worth the £48m outlay, it vanished in that moment.

Roberto Carlos’s hooked cross took an age to fall, but ZZ was watching it all the way, and his astonishing volley curled into the top corner from the edge of the area with transcendental skill.

Oh, and he hit it with his weak foot.

----------------------------------------------FourFourTwo.com: More to read...The Tuesday 10: Goalscoring goaliesThe Tuesday 10: Freaky injuriesThe Tuesday 10: Brazilians in EnglandThe Tuesday 10: North London derbiesThe Tuesday 10: Best footballing beardsThe Tuesday 10: Best World Cup AbsenteesThe Tuesday 10: Golden oldiesThe Tuesday 10: The best computer football games everThe Tuesday 10: Controversial celebrationsThe Tuesday 10: Dives worse than Eduardo'sThe Tuesday 10: Football lyrics in rockThe Tuesday 10:
Changing the course of history
The Tuesday 10: Football forfeitsThe Tuesday 10: Goal celebrations

FourFourTwo's super section of Lists

Inside Track homeBlogs home News homeInterviews homeForums homeFourFourTwo.com homeFollow FFT on Twitter

Topics