Every four years, football fans get an end-of-season bonus in the form of the World Cup. Sure enough, previous tournaments have thrown up a variety of stunning strikes – some technically impressive, others so important a whole country celebrates them. Here is a countdown of five of the very best.
5. Geoff Hurst, England vs. West Germany 1966
It would be remiss to start anywhere than the 1966 final at Wembley, the summer football truly came home. Leading 3-2 against a stubborn Germany, England looked to relieve some pressure with a long ball forward from Bobby Moore. Geoff Hurst, drained from 120 minutes of gruelling football and with two goals already in his locker, strode forward. As he did, legendary commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme uttered the immortal words:
“Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over…”
It might not be the best strike on the list, it might not even have been critical to the game’s result, but it was a World Cup moment that the nation will still savour in a hundred years’ time.
4. Marco Tardelli, Italy vs. West Germany 1982
Unfancied Italy had seen off Brazil en route to the 1982 final, but there they encountered the efficient German juggernaut. Few gave them hope of winning a tense final, but Paulo Rossi gave them the lead against all odds. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge led the West German revival, an onslaught towards the Azzurri goal that only seemed to have one outcome.
With 20 minutes remaining, Italy managed to break away from their own 18-yard box. A flurry of passes found Marco Tardelli unmarked on the edge of the area. He fired home to give his country a two-goal lead. His celebration, a wild-eyed run and scream, will remain ingrained in the hearts of Italians forever. Both sides added another goal each, earning Italy an unlikely World Cup triumph.
3. Dennis Bergkamp, Netherlands vs. Argentina 1998
This choice is all about the quality of Dennis Bergkamp, one of the most gifted footballers ever to step foot on a pitch. The two sides locked in a 1-1 draw, and the match looked to be heading to extra time. It hadn’t been one for the football purists, a tight and nervy affair with little quality to speak of. Then, in the final minute, Frank De Boer played a long, accurate ball over the top to Bergkamp, looking to alleviate pressure and perhaps give the master something to work with.
Bergkamp did much more than that. He created a memorable World Cup goal right out of the top draw. He controlled the pass with one touch, removing his marker from proceedings at the same time before slotting past Carlos Roa with a deft finish full of style. It was quintessential Bergkamp, a moment of quality from a true artist of the game. The Netherlands were eliminated in the semi-finals by Brazil, but they’ll always have that goal in Marseille.
2. Diego Maradona – Argentina vs. England 1986
While it might not be the most memorable goal of the game, few could argue that Maradona’s winner against England was anything but one of the greatest goals ever scored.
It typified everything about the feisty forward. It had his bullish strength and determination coupled with his insane dribbling skills and talent. Argentina went on to win the 1986 tournament and sadly, much of the football world focused on his controversial goal in that game.
1. Carlos Alberto – Brazil vs. Italy 1970
The only choice for the top World Cup goal in our book. A goal that typified the ethics of teamwork and talent required for success in the greatest tournament on the planet. The Brazil team of 1970 were arguably the best international side of all time, featuring Pele, Jairzinho and a host of other players we still talk about today.
The Brazilians were already 3-1 up in a one-sided affair when they scored the most iconic goal of any World Cup before or since. Clodoaldo, Rivelino and Jairzinho combine to find Pele in space on the edge of the area. He nonchalantly lays the ball off into open space. At first, it appears as though it’s a stray pass, but then – from nowhere – Carlos Alberto, a full-back, appears to fire the ball home. It was a glorious, rampant goal scored by the very best players in the world right on top of their game. That, surely, is the World Cup’s greatest ever goal.