Over 2,000 goals have been scored at the World Cup finals since the tournament's inception in 1930 (2,208 to be precise); some are more ingrained on the memory than others. Here we present 11 of the most memorable, for varying reasons.
1. Maradona against England (1986)
The good one. Picking up the ball just inside his own half, a beautiful two-part turn saw off the attentions of both Peter Reid and Peter Beardsley before a turn of pace set Diego Armando Maradona free down Argentina's right, his powerful little legs pumping away at a stifling Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. A step inside did for Gary Stevens before he jinked outside Terry Fenwick and into the England penalty area. A final masterly flourish to take the ball around Peter Shilton and slot the ball into the back of the net under pressure from the returning Stevens confirmed Maradona's genius with one, if not the, greatest goal in World Cup history. It also sealed a 2-0 win for Argentina, who went on to lift the trophy soon after, while further stoking one of the greatest rivalries in world football.
2. Maradona against England (1986)
The bad one. Equally as memorable was the way in which Maradona inspired Argentina to their opening goal in the same quarter-final. The infamous 'goal' that should never have stood stunned England, whose players were incredulous that the referee failed to see what everybody else had: Maradona leaping with Shilton and fisting the ball past him and into the empty goal. The way Maradona immediately turned away in celebration, without a flicker of remorse even though he must have known he punched the ball, ensured the goal became as iconic as it was nefarious. England never recovered from that moment, both in terms of the match and arguably in more general footballing terms.
If ever a goal was to encompass a team's ethos, talent and flair in one fell swoop, it was Carlos Alberto's effort in the heat of Mexico City in 1970. Only a side consisting of the likes of Rivelino, Jarizinho, Gerson, Tostao and Pele could come up with such a beautiful team goal and the apparent ease with which it was scored was testament to a group of individuals who played the game with such elegance and joy. Carlos Alberto finished the move off - with a stunning first-time finish with the outside of his boot - but not before Clodoaldo has beaten four players and Rivelino, Jairzinho and finally Pele, with a perfectly-weighted lay-off, had been involved. If you claim to tire of watching this one, you're lying.
4. Alcides Ghiggia against Brazil (1950)
Alcides Ghiggia earned international fame after his heroics in the de facto final of the 1950 World Cup. It was the Uruguay forward's 81st-minute goal that proved decisive against Brazil in their own back yard at the Maracana, prompting joy and acclaim in his country and equal measures of despair, mourning even, in Brazil. Cutting in from the left, Ghiggia took full advantage of an error of judgement from the hosts' keeper Barbosa, who in anticipation of a cross was beaten at his near post. The goal sealed a 2-1 win, and the Brazilians were left to rue what became known as the Maracanazo, or the Maracana blow.
5. Geoff Hurst against West Germany (1966)
Wembley, July 30, 1966. Bright sunshine, the old enemy, England's red shirts, Bobby Moore, hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst, a Russian linesman, "they think it's all over"... the day is etched in the collective memory of a nation - even those not around back then seem to have an innate knowledge of the what happened - as England hoisted their first, and only, World Cup after a dramatic final against Germany. The most replayed part of the match though has to be Hurst's second, the goal was wasn't, then was and possibly shouldn't have been at all. The drama unfolded in the 101st minute, when Hurst swivelled on a sixpence and thundered a shot off the underside of the bar, the ball bouncing back down onto the line before being cleared. Referee Gottfried Dienst consulted his linesman - from the Soviet Union - who confirmed a goal. Cue wild celebrations and endless debates over whether the goal should have stood.
6. Helmut Rahn against Hungary (1954)
Not without reason is West Germany's victory in the final against Hungary labelled the Miracle of Bern. The underdogs weren't given a chance against Ferenc Puskas and his pre-tournament favourites, who had beaten the Germans 8-3 earlier in the tournament, and they faced a monumental task after going two goals down in the opening eight minutes. Yet claw their way back they did to level the scores soon after, setting the stage in the 84th minute for Rahn to pick up a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area, cut inside and unleash an unstoppable drive into the back of the net.
7. Gerd Mueller against Holland (1974)
The ubiquitous Mueller's match-winning strike just before half-time in Munich was far from the most spectacular goal ever witnessed at a World Cup, but it encompassed in one swivel and shot everything about Der Bomber's game: tenacity, strength, balance and a deadly eye for goal. Germany lifted the trophy 50 minutes later, Johan Cruyff's highly-fancied side were beaten and Mueller had written himself into football folklore. And for that, his goal was one of most the most memorable ever witnessed.
8. Andres Iniesta against Holland (2010)
A rather uninspiring, niggly World Cup final in Johannesburg was hoisted above the bitterness by a moment of cool-headed brilliance from Andres Iniesta deep into injury time four years ago. With the match seemingly headed towards the lottery of penalties Spain broke forward, Iniesta keeping the move going with a neat backheel in midfield before the ball found him again moments later, all alone in the penalty area. He fired across Maarten Stekelenburg in the Dutch goal with a perfectly-executed volley to settle the contest, prompting wave upon wave of his team-mates to descend on him in celebration. The goal had added significance given that Iniesta displayed a t-shirt honouring Dani Jarque, the Espanyol player who died of a heart attack the previous year.
9. Pele against Italy (1970)
Headers are rarely recognised as great goals, but this one, from the temple of Pele, ranks right up there. The Brazil forward's leap was prodigious, salmon-like, as he rose above Azzurri defender Tarcisio Burgnich to meet Rivelino's cross with a snap of his neck muscles that powered the ball past Enrico Albertosi and into the back of the net. The image of the celebrating Pele, jumping into Jairzinho's arms, is as iconic as they come. The goal was the opener in Mexico City; Brazil went on to win 4-1 and claim their third title in 12 years.
10. Marco Tardelli against West Germany
The strike itself - an off-balance yet fierce low drive past Harald Schumacher - was laudable enough, but Tardelli's effort will forever live in the memory for his incredible celebration. The clenched fists, the pumping arms, the look of sheer ecstasy on the face of a man apparently on the verge of breaking down in tears... this is what it must feel like to score in a World Cup final. Tardelli laid bare his emotions for all to see, and for that football fans should be eternally grateful.
11. Roberto Baggio against Czechoslovakia (1990)
There were shades of Maradona in '86 (the good one) as Roberto Baggio slalomed his way through the Czech defence like a hot knife through butter in Rome's Stadio Olimpico. It might have only been a group game, but his dribble and finish was worthy of settling any match. It has since been voted the seventh best goal in World Cup history by FIFA, while Italy went on to finish third at their home tournament.
- Sports & Recreation
- Diego Armando Maradona
- Peter Shilton
- Carlos Alberto
- Peter Beardsley