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So good you can’t believe you missed them


History books and YouTube compilations are often guilty of overlooking some of football’s most spectacular goals. So, in memory of the moments that have been lost forever to nostalgia and VHS tapes, here’s a selection of wonderful goals, from FA Cup third round replays to World Cup semi-finals, which most football fans have long since left for dead.


Bayern Munich vs. RW Essen, 1974 Bundesliga

Scoring a free kick is one of football’s hardest skills, and there are many ways to take one. We have the traditional Beckham curler, Juninho’s masterful strikes, and the Ronald Koeman approach: breaking the sound barrier. But what all these players, and any of football’s great set piece specialists, have in common is that they always use either their instep or their laces to strike the ball. It takes a truly special player to invent an entirely different method of hitting, and scoring with, a dead ball.

Enter Franz Beckenbauer and Teofilo Cubillas.

Beckenbauer and Peruvian legend Cubillas are the only two players I am aware of who have scored a free kick with the outside of their foot. A technique that at first thought seems rather pointless – the power needed to score a free kick simply cannot be generated with the toe or outside of the boot. Or at least I thought so until I saw this clip.


Peru vs. Scotland, 1978 World Cup

Four years after Beckenbauer’s pioneering strike, Cubillas had the same idea during Peru’s 3-1 group stage victory over Scotland at the World Cup in Argentina. And while Scotland have conceded their fair share of World Cup wondergoals over the years, Cubillas’ toe-poked free-kick must rank as the most unique of the lot.


Austria vs. West Germany, 1978 World Cup

Few international football rivalries are comparable to Germany and Austria. Since the end of World War II, the two nations have done battle on the pitch 29 times, with the Austrians winning just twice.

The most famous encounter, of course, came in the 1982 World Cup, when the two neighbors conspired with each other to play out a 1-0 West German victory that saw both nations progress to the second round at the expense of the unfortunate Algerians.

But if the Disgrace of Gijon was reminiscent of the ‘friendship’ the two nations have for each other, the meeting between the two sides four years before, at Argentina ‘78, was the polar opposite, in both quality and animosity.

Due to a bizarre second group phase that saw the winners of each group progress to the final, both the Austrians and Germans had all but been eliminated by the time the two played each other in Cordoba on June 21, 1978.

Austria’s 3-2 victory remains their finest footballing moment since the exploits of the 1930s Wunderteam, but outside of Austria it seems that only the scoreline, and not Hanz Krankl’s amazing volley after 66 minutes, is remembered. Barry Davies’ iconic voice yelling out “Oh Krankl! Oh Krankl!!” sums up the brilliance of Austria’s greatest-ever player.


Manchester City vs. Tottenham, 1981 FA Cup 

Thirty-four years on from what is largely regarded as English football’s best cup final, Tottenham and Manchester City’s 1981 FA Cup bout, only one moment remains in the mind of almost any football fan: Ricky Villa’s late, slaloming solo goal to win the game for Spurs.

It was a brilliant goal, but had it been scored by one of Spurs’ English players, it probably would never have achieved the same level of iconicity and adulation. But it was scored by Ricky Villa, the ever-smiling Argentine who, along with Ossie Ardilles, had won the hearts and minds of British football by being the first genuine overseas superstars to play in on English soil. Add the fact that this was the winning goal in a breathlessly entertaining FA Cup final replay, and that Villa had been mostly useless in the first game, and you have a moment that was voted as Wembley’s goal of the century in 2001.

But Villa’s goal, despite reaching an almost mythological plane of reverence, wasn’t even the best goal of that game. That honor goes to little-known Manchester midfielder Steve Mackenzie, who lashed in a 25-yard volley after just 11 minutes to level the game up at 1-1.

Unfortunately for Mackenzie, history only remembers the winners. His volley, however, deserves to be remembered with the likes of Villa, Di Matteo, Cantona, and Gerrard as one of the best strikes to have graced an FA Cup final.


Argentina vs. Greece, 1994 World Cup

Everyone remembers this goal, but nobody remembers it for the actual goal part. Having smashed Argentina into a 3-0 lead against Greece in their opening game of USA ‘94 in Massachusetts, Diego Maradona sprinted towards the sideline camera and satanically glared into the living rooms of millions of people across the world.

He looked like he was on drugs.

A week later, the world found out he probably was on drugs. On June 30, 1994, Maradona was kicked out of the World Cup after an ostensibly random drug test revealed he had five variants of ephedrine in his blood. The Argentine, who had only just returned from a 15-month ban for the use of cocaine during his days at Napoli, left the World Cup in disgrace, his career all but finished.

Today, most remember that moment for the manic image of Maradona, instead of the series of swift one-twos in the build up to his glorious rocket to the back of the net.


Arsenal vs. Sunderland, 1997 FA Cup

Dennis Bergkamp, for all his genius, has three highlights that stand above everything else he accomplished. His last minute wondergoal against Argentina in 1998, his magic trick against Newcastle in 2002, and his hat trick against Leicester in August 1997.

But back in January 1997, during his second season with the Gunners, Bergkamp scored a goal that is as good as any of the three previous examples. Of course, scoring a fantastic goal away to Sunderland during an FA Cup third round replay doesn’t quite have the same prestige as a last minute winner in a World Cup quarter-final, despite being of comparable quality.

The casual “Ahhhhh!” from someone in the background of the commentary booth says it all, really.


Manchester United vs. Panathanikos, 2000 Champions League

In 2000, Manchester United were heading to a comfortable victory against Panathanikos, and, unfortunately, it seems that most people had turned their TVs off by the time Teddy Sheringham flicked the ball to an on-rushing Paul Scholes.

Perhaps it is the fact that this goal is the perfect anti-stereotype of both Manchester United and Paul Scholes that helps explain why this goal has largely been forgotten (it didn’t even make ITV’s top 50 Champions League goals program). To those without a United persuasion, Fergie’s teams are often thought of as hard-working ‘win at all costs’ sides, while Paul Scholes nostalgia revolves around 50-yard passes and long range screamers. And football fans generally don’t like to see their preconceived stereotypes challenged.

But this was Fergie’s United at their fluid best, during a season that would see them go on to complete a hat-trick of Premier League titles following the emergence of Arsene Wenger, Henry, and Arsenal. United were to be knocked out by Bayern Munich at the quarter-final stage of the 00/01 Champions League, but this goal defines the unrivaled ability of both Fergie’s United and Paul Scholes.


Brazil vs. Turkey, 2002 World Cup

Toe-pokes are the ugliest and most basic way one can kick a football—a technique for the primitive playground brute. Or at least that’s what I was taught growing up in England.

Had I been raised in Brazil, my prejudiced notion of the toe-poke may well be different. Only in Brazil could the embodiment of hideous down-the-park football be seen as something of such beauty and artistry.

Ronaldinho scored the best toe-poke ever, and Oscar’s at the last World Cup wasn’t too bad, but it was Ronaldo who took Brazil to the 2002 World Cup final with this fantastic solo run and poke to defeat Turkey.

The entire 2002 World Cup was a cakewalk for Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho. The three R’s came to Korea and Japan with their own brand of jogo bonito, brushed aside those in their way, including German savior Oliver Kahn in the final, and took home football’s biggest prize. Along with Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Lucio, and Gilberto Silva, it was the best Brazil side since 1982, and in Ronaldo they had a man who was on his own personal warpath of redemption following the events surrounding his health before the 1998 final.


The Serie A was the best league of the ’90s, and if one video proves that beyond any doubt it’s this one, which is also probably the best collection of goals anywhere on the Internet. The next time you come across someone who has the nerve to claim that football wasn’t as good ‘back in the day,’ show them this.

The compilation just reeks of 90s football nostalgia, and includes two goals from the same half of Sampdoria’s remarkable 4-1 win away to Napoli, from Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli, while Ruud Gullit, Carlo Ancelotti, Diego Simeone, and Jurgen Klinsmann all tried to score that season’s best volley. In fact, judging from the video, it seems that anything but scoring a stupendous volley was all but outlawed in Italy during 1990/91.

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