Football, like any sport, is made up of various gestures that know how to enchant the public. Good dribbling can make you jump in your seat, a perfect cross can be fundamental, and a millimeter pass is often what makes the difference between winning and losing. It is undeniable, however, that the most important and memorable technical gesture is the goal because, in fact, this is what decides the matches.
A RANKING THAT GOES BACK IN TIME
In more than a century of football history, there have been thousands, perhaps millions of goals. Many have tried to establish which are the most beautiful, the most impossible, the most imaginative. The defect of these rankings, however, is often that of focusing on rather recent networks, also because it is much easier to find videos from the last five years than from the 1950s or 1930s.
We have tried to correct this limit. In other words, we have chosen what are perhaps the most beautiful goals in the world of all time, going back in time to almost sixty years ago. We list them below. As you will see, they were made by some of the greatest champions of all time, such as Pelé, Johan Cruijff, and Diego Armando Maradona. If you have others in mind, propose them in the comments.
Pelé at Club Atlético Juventus in 1959
The lost goal is reconstructed on the computer
Pelé is unanimously considered the greatest footballer of all time. The problem with him, at least from the point of view of a fan today, is that the Brazilian champion started playing too early, and often far enough from the spotlight, which makes it almost impossible to recover some of his most epic exploits. Edson Arantes do Nascimento – this is his real name – in fact, made his debut in the Santos first team a month before he turned 16, and in the San Paolo team, he played for practically his entire career.
Brazil then was not what it is today, nor did it resemble Europe. If therefore, it is quite easy to retrieve the videos of Juventus, Inter, or Milan matches of the time, it is practically impossible to do the same with those of Santos. Simply because those games were almost never resumed. We, therefore, have good coverage of what Pele did in the national team or in the most important matches, but not of what he managed to do in daily matches.
Instead, in one of these “any” matches, Pele scored what is considered the best goal of his career. His Santos played against Club Atlético Juventus, another team from San Paolo. Its name was due to the fact that it was founded by an Italian industrialist who was a great fan of Juve, even if, ironically, it was Santos who wore black and white, while the local Juventus played with garnet colors. In that match, which took place on August 2, 1959, a still eighteen-year-old Pele scored a memorable goal.
There were just 8,000 people to see it, but that network remained etched in the memory of all spectators. Also thanks to this memory it was possible to reconstruct the network thanks to a computer animation that seems to be very truthful. You can admire it below.
Cruijff at Atlético Madrid in 1973
The heel strike on the fly
If Pele was the greatest South American talent of his time, Cruijff was undoubtedly his European counterpart. Despite having played in seasons only shortly after Pele’s (he was younger than 7 years), we have fairly accurate documentation of his goals, also because he spent most of his career in leading clubs such as Ajax and the Barcelona.
He arrived in the Blaugrana shirt in 1973, not without controversy. With the Ajax shirt and his city team, he had played 9 seasons, winning 7 national championships, 5 Dutch Cups, 3 European Cups, and 1 Intercontinental Cup. A hard-to-match Palmares, especially considering that Cruijff was just 26 years old and could easily have made it even more full-bodied.
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In the summer of 1973, however, Spain reopened the borders to foreign footballers and Real Madrid immediately tried to secure the services of the Dutch ace. Although the agreement with Ajax had already been found, Cruijff blew everything, preferring Barcelona. The Catalan team – given the delays in the negotiations – only arrived when the championship had begun, when the Blaugrana were penultimate in the standings after 7 days.
SCUDETTO AND GOLDEN BALL
In what was perhaps the best season of his career, Cruijff, however, almost alone managed to turn the tide of the tournament. Barcelona, in fact, struck a series of impressive consecutive useful results, going on to win the Scudetto after 14 years of fasting. For the attacker, from a personal point of view, the third Golden Ball also arrived, also to crown an extraordinary World Cup in Germany.
That extraordinary ride was launched by the visiting card that Crujff presented to his new fans on December 22, 1973. On that day, in fact, Barcelona faced Atlético Madrid, winning 2-1 thanks to an almost impossible goal from their spearhead. . Cruijff – as you can see below – managed to get across into the goal by hitting him with a prodigious heel strike on the fly. Things that today only a champion like Ibrahimovic – who doesn’t have Crujff’s speed – would be able to do. From that moment on the forward became, for his fans, the Flying Dutchman.
Maradona to England in 1986
The goal of the century
The most famous of all the goals of our five, however, we still have to present it. This is what Diego Armando Maradona scored for England during the 1986 World Cup, the one won by Argentina in Mexico. A network that was immediately called “the goal of the century”, a label that no one has dared to question in the last thirty years.
At the time, Maradona was 25, almost 26. He had grown up between Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors, before arriving in Europe four years earlier. After a couple of seasons at Barcelona he had reached Napoli, where he was adored like a God and where, in a few months, he would have won the first Scudetto in history for the Neapolitans.
Everyone knew he was the strongest footballer in the world, but his Palmares, in that summer of 1986, was still almost empty. He had won a Metropolitan Championship in Argentina and a couple of national cups in Spain, as well as various individual titles, while at the youth level his Argentina had become Under-20 World Champion. In short, it was necessary to make the leap in quality and start winning something important.
At the World Cup Argentina arrived in particularly good shape. He immediately won his group – the one in which reigning champion Italy also played – and reached the second round, in which he ruled Uruguay with a 1-0. At that point he met England, who had disappointed in the group, losing to Portugal, but had made up for it in the second round, beating Paraguay with a nice 3-0. The challenge, however, was also important for extra-football reasons: four years earlier the Falklands War had broken out between the two countries, and the resentment of the Argentines was evident.
THE TWO MOST FAMOUS GOALS OF AN ENTIRE CAREER IN JUST 3 MINUTES
All the quarter-finals of that edition ended on penalties except the one between Argentina and England. The South Americans, after a first-half ended at 0-0, unleashed their best weapon, that is Diego Armando Maradona, who scored two goals in three minutes, between 51 ‘and 54’, which managed to knock out the British. A little was worth the goal of the flag of Lineker, scored 10 minutes from the end.
But Maradona’s goals aren’t memorable just because they decided the game. They are still considered today to be the two most important goals of his entire career. The first was that very famous, made with the fist to anticipate the release of Peter Shilton, the goal of the “hand of God”. The second, more beautiful, was the “goal of the century”. You can review it below, with the original commentary by Víctor Hugo Morales, who, by the way, was actually Uruguayan but had been working in Argentina for a few years.
His words became memorable and almost touching, for transport, even today. In Argentina, since then, T-shirts, memorabilia and various types of objects have appeared: “Diegol, Diego Armando Maradona … Gracias Dios, por el fútbol, por Maradona, por estas lágrimas, por este Argentina 2 – Inglaterra 0”.
Van Basten to the USSR in 1988
A volley that earned a European
If Maradona’s goal is the most beautiful in the history of the World Cup – so much so that FIFA, a few years ago, especially rewarded it – the best of the Europeans is probably that of Marco Van Basten. The striker of the Dutch national team and AC Milan, in fact, 1988 scored a memorable goal in the final, bringing his team to the first major trophy.
After making his debut at Ajax at a very young age – among other things by taking over a championship match in Cruijff – and having won three Dutch championships and a Cup Winners’ Cup, Van Basten joined Milan in 1987. He immediately won the championship, despite a stop initial, and thus presented himself to the European Championships in Germany in top form. In addition to him, the Dutch national team could count on champions of the caliber of Ronald Koeman, Frank Rijkaard, and Ruud Gullit. Also on the bench was Rinus Michels, the inventor of total football.
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The debut of the Dutch, in truth, was not the simplest. In the first match, against the Soviet Union, they lost 1-0. They also struggled in the third, beating Ireland only with a goal in the 82nd minute, while the game against England was easier, decided by a hat-trick from Van Basten.
THE SEMIFINAL WITH WEST GERMANY
In the semifinals, they faced the hosts of West Germany, already finalists at the World Cup two years earlier and ready to rise to the top of the world, as they would have done in 1990. Everything seemed to be on the side of the Germans, who in fact took the lead with Matthäus on penalty, but the Dutch were able to overturn the game and win with a goal two minutes from the end of Van Basten again.
In the final, the orange met again the USSR, which had clearly gotten rid of our Italy. Lobanovs’kyj’s battleship, however, could do nothing against Michels’ Dutch, who took the lead in the first half with Gullit and closed the match in the second, with Van Basten’s splendid half overhead.
Put on Getafe in 2007
The consecration of the champion
In our five, Leo Messi is the only player still in business. And he is the only one among those who play today – at least together with Cristiano Ronaldo – who can be compared to champions of the caliber of Pele, Maradona, Cruijff, and Van Basten. On the other hand, the numbers speak for him: he has won 8 Spanish championships, 4 Champions League, 3 World Cups for clubs, 1 Olympic gold, 5 Golden Balls, 3 Gold Boots, 5 times the title of top scorer of the Champions. And we limited ourselves to only the most important titles.
Of course, he misses a great triumph with the national team, given that in the last two years he has seen both the World Cup and America’s Cup fade before his eyes. But he remains one of the strongest champions ever, seen and considered, however, he has just turned 29 and still has a few seasons ahead.
He has always scored many goals. At the time of writing, there are more than 300 with the Barcelona shirt and more than 50 with the senior national team, of which he is the best scorer of all time. Many of these have remained etched in the memory of his fans, because of their remarkable workmanship. However, in our opinion, one stands out above the others: the one who scored at Getafe in the semi-final of the King’s Cup on April 18, 2007.
THE FIRST SEASON AS A STARTER
The “flea” had made his debut in the first team two seasons earlier, in 2004/05, at the age of just 17. In that year, however, he had only played a few pieces of the match. The following year he had found a little more space, but the 2006/07 season was the first to see him in the Blaugrana attack. On the bench was, at that time, the aforementioned Frank Rijkaard, who passed on the other side of the fence.
That year Barça didn’t win much (only the Spanish Super Cup, not much compared to what would come later), but in the semi-final of the King’s Cup, the young Messi showed what he was made of. That is the same as Maradona since his goal is incredibly similar to that of his compatriot that we have already presented. And, above all, he showed that he was ready to become the beacon of the new team that, with Iniesta and Xavi, would soon be formed.
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