Anyone that has ever perched themselves on a fold-down plastic seat in any football stadium in the world, or even anyone that has ever taken an interest in looking in the direction of a television when football is playing will know the glory of catching that perfect goal. This doesn't mean just any goal where the ball manages to make it to the net in spite of some fairly lacklustre defending: we're talking real goals requiring the utmost of skill, the most perfect of timing, and occasionally the hand of god intervening at just the right moment.
The glory of this type of perfect goal is only intensified tenfold when said goal is scored during a world cup match too. The hopes of an entire nation can sometimes rest on whether the ball – which has just been hoofed by a player and is currently hurtling towards the goal at great speed – manages to make it to the back of the net or collides with the goalpost with a stomach-sinking slap. Without any more delay, this is our pick of the Top 10 World Cup Goals ever, with some classics and a few newcomers to keep the younger fans happy as well.
10. Pele, 1958, Brazil vs. Sweden
For number ten in this list we have to go all the way back to 1958 where matches were lacking in RGB colour and commentary was almost exclusively conducted in proper received pronunciation. The subject of this goal is none other than one of the greatest footballers to ever grace the field, Pele, who was a mere 17 years of age when he scored this howler against Sweden and going on to score another, ending the match at 5-2. Pele's later goal was a close-range header but this beauty involves a level of skill that many simply cannot even dream of having. Receiving the ball near the box and chesting it down to kickable height was the first challenge but the clinical strike past the keeper was the cherry on the cake. Goal.com has this and many other goals documented on its Ten Legendary Performances page.
9. Maridonna, 1986, Argentina vs. Belgium
Another legendary name now with Maridonna, a footballer who is often considered by many to be the greatest of all time without a shadow of a doubt. This particular goal will do nothing but cement Maridonna's reputation in the minds of many and will make most regret not being alive or aware of his performances in the 1980s. Maridonna receives the ball at pace and goes on to bounce off three separate tackles as if they were nothing before finally shooting the ball past Jean-Marie Pfaff with a casual left foot. They don't come much more skilful than this, and the BBC have a great article on the story of the 1986 World Cup for any fans keen about the World Cup past.
8. Michael Owen, 1998, England vs. Argentina
Moving on to a player that is closer to contemporary times than the previous ones. Michael Owen was a player of unquestionable class and talent and was around for a good number of years, though one of the most unforgettable moments was his goal in the second round of the 1998 world cup. Owen pretty much picks apart the whole Argentina defense in order to deliver the right-footed strike across keeper Carlos Roa's view and into the top left corner of the net. This is what is colloquially known as a "screamer” and pretty much put Owen's name on the map outside of England.
7. Maradona, 1986, Argentina vs. England
Taking place in the context of the Falklands crisis, this is in reference to Maridonna's infamous "hand of god” goal which to this day persists as one of the most controversial goals ever allowed by a referee.
6. Esteban Cambiaso, 2006, Argentina vs. Serbia and Montenegro
This is perhaps one of the greatest plays of all time. Multiple passes are capped off by an incredible goal from Cambiaso that sails confidently into the net, and a video of this wonderful performance can be found here.
5.Arie Haan, 1978, Holland vs. Italy
They don't come much more impressive than this 35-yard screamer that left Italy (and everyone else for that matter) in shock at what they just witnessed.
4. Dennis Bergkamp, 1998, Holland vs. Argentina
Often described as one of the goals that defined a whole generation, Bergkamp received this one from Frank de Boer, finally being received from a ridiculous back-footer and hammered into the net to send Holland through.
3. Saeed Al-Owairan, 1994, Saudi Arabia vs. Belgium
A completely unknown player coming out of the blue and scoring an unforgettable goal after tearing apart the Belgian defense. This one can be watched over and over.
2. Carlos Alberto, 1970, Brazil vs. Italy
This goal and the play immediately preceding it epitomises football at its absolute greatest. You've got great teamwork, tremendous passing, sublime footwork, and then Alberto coming in with the legendary strike to seal the deal with this perfect goal.
1. Maradona, 1986, Argentina vs. England
This is the goal that took place shortly after the infamous "hand of god” incident, though with less controversy and more blatant skill and admirable footwork. Maradona simply blazes past the entire England defense, using incredible footwork to fool and baffle them before knocking the most legendary goal in the whole of World Cup history into the net.
Here's another top list of world cup goals you can marvel in watching once again!