Ranked! The 15 best goals from unfashionable Premier League players
From Thierry Henry’s turn-and-volley to Eric Cantona’s chip and yes-I-just-did-that non-celebration, great Premier League players have scored great Premier League goals.
Then there are goals that tick only one of those two boxes. Wayne Rooney’s Manchester derby bicycle kick was voted as the greatest strike from the Premier League’s first 20 years even though he shinned it, and praising something the goalscorer didn’t try to do is akin to naming a miscue snooker’s crowning moment.
Essentially, the reputations enjoyed by great players allows their every move to be elevated to an act of genius. Usually it's merited. FourFourTwo’s countdown of the Premier League’s 25 best goals included Messrs Ronaldo, Suarez and Shearer because they scored some bloody good goals. But what about everybody else? Our list found room for amazing strikes from players who don’t get their name in the appendix of football history, from Steve Froggatt at No.21 and Dalian Atkinson at No.19 to the No.1 goal itself, scored by… well, you’ll have to read to find out.
We say: let’s celebrate these forgotten wondergoals. When ITV’s The Premiership picked 10 contenders for 2002/03 Goal of the Season, the players shortlisted were Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney, Paolo Di Canio, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jay-Jay Okocha, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry and Niclas Jensen.
Niclas Jensen: this one’s for you.
15. CARLTON PALMER, Leeds vs Wimbledon (1995/96)
Poor Carlton was an inelegant but ultimately reliable performer who unfairly remains a subject of derision
Our collection of great goals scored by unfashionable players begins with the most unfashionable player of all: Carlton Palmer. Poor Carlton was an inelegant but ultimately reliable performer who unfairly remains a subject of derision, even being named England’s worst ever player while David Nugent roams free. It’s sadly fitting, then, that the midfielder’s scorcher against Wimbledon was forgotten even in the minutes that followed it.
Three questions. One: does the man himself know what his legs are doing? Two: is the glare from the sun masking a deflection that would ruin the spectacle? And three: did anyone in the ground remember this goal when they filed out, given Tony Yeboah followed it with a hat-trick that included a famous hit twanged in off the crossbar?
The answer to all three questions: we don’t think so, no.
Goal at 2:30
14. STEVEN REID, Blackburn vs Wigan (2005/06)
His body is in a straight line as he connects a few inches off the floor and somehow keeps the shot down
No, our Top 15 isn’t made up entirely of thunderbastards. But this is a classic of the genre, right down to the goalscorer being out of shot when the ball falls his way (see also: Jon Harley vs Aston Villa).
In an otherwise forgettable New Year’s Eve fixture, Steven Reid punched a hole in the universe. You don’t even see the ball move – in one frame it’s touching Reid’s boot; in the next, it's teleported into the net. The ball doesn’t make one rotation. There isn’t time. None of that would’ve mattered, though, if Reid’s technique wasn’t perfect, his body in a straight line as he connects a few inches off the floor and somehow keeps the shot down.
No football has been hit this hard before or since.
13. PETER NDLOVU, Coventry vs Norwich (1992/93)
The youngster races onto the loose ball, sits Bryan Gunn on his bum and converts the chance as coolly as you like
It’s a shame Ndlovu dropped out of the Premier League at only 24, because he was capable of scoring great goals. His fantastic individual effort against Wimbledon - struck with his wrong foot, no less - on Boxing Day in 1993 hinted at a precocious talent, but he’d demonstrated his footballing intelligence even as a 19-year-old facing Norwich the previous year.
Following a clever dummy, which itself is an option only because Ndlovu’s team-mates know he’ll outsprint his marker, the young Zimbabwean striker – wearing No.6 in the final season before squad numbers – races onto the loose ball, sits Bryan Gunn on his bum and converts the chance as coolly as you like.