With football currently suspended for the foreseeable, the best cure for your football fix is to look back through football history’s wealth of memories. So, here at The Football Pink, we’ll be giving you a weekly dose of football nostalgia with our picks for the greatest elements of football history in our humble opinions. Our writers stretch far and wide and support clubs all the way up and all the way down the football pyramid. This week, we charged the writers to come up with their own personal greatest goals of all time. So, sit back, relax and enjoy these incredibly niche belters.
Cameron Brooks – Frank Lampard vs Ipswich Town (2009)
The discussion of greatest goals is a personal one that always draws me back to going to watch my first live football game at Stamford Bridge.
On a cold Saturday in January 2009, Chelsea were 2-1 up against Ipswich Town courtesy of two Michael Ballack goals. The blues won a freekick on the far right side of the pitch about 35 yards out. Although, as an eleven-year-old peering down from the Matthew Harding upper stand it looked closer to the half-way line than the goal.
Just as I was having a sip of water in the break of play my uncle told me to put my bottle down as he reckoned Frank Lampard was going to shoot. Right on cue he strode up and struck the ball in a fashion not dissimilar to the now-infamous knuckle-ball freekick Ronaldo scored against Portsmouth the year before. Well, apart from the fact that Lampard was shooting from close to the touchline on the right side of the pitch towards the far left corner of the goal.
The ball flashed up above the wall and diagonally through the air as a split-second of silence reverberated through the stadium. Perhaps, the crowd realising like myself that Lampard had gone for the shot and not crossed it as expected.
The rapturous eruption of noise as the ball beat the diving keeper into the top-left corner felt like a world cup-winning moment, rather than FA Cup fourth round.
Looking back on it through grainy YouTube footage there may or may not have been a deflection from one of the defenders in the wall.
Certainly, a couple of pundits might be saying the oh so overused ‘the keeper should do better there’ line. But nothing can take away that feeling of shock and awe at seeing one of my favourite footballers produce such a special moment in the flesh.
Graham Hollingsworth – Alun Armstrong vs Inter Milan (2001)
Not all great goals are great goals. Sometimes they can be scrappy, or very basic, but in the wider context of the game they’re scored can truly be considered as great.
Back in November 2001, Ipswich Town were beginning to come unstuck. Following a great first season back in the Premier League, the Suffolk side had finished in the European spots but were experiencing second season syndrome, mired in a relegation battle.
In Europe however, they were faring slightly better, having made it to the third round of the UEFA cup to set up a tie against Inter Milan. They were second in Serie A, while Ipswich were second bottom of the Premier League.
Despite the gulf in class, the home side troubled Francesco Toldo several times early on, with both Titus Bramble and Matt Holland coming close. The Italian side fought back, Nicola Vetola and Mohamed Kallon threatening but without applying a clinical finish.
Enter Alun Armstrong. The former Huddersfield and Middlesbrough striker hadn’t started the game due to a minor injury but was thrown on by Ipswich manager George Burley in an attempt to seize the initiative. With nine minutes remaining, left-back Jamie Clapham finally
delivered a quality ball into the box. Armstrong found a yard of space and rose above Grigoris Georgatos. He used all his neck muscles to power the header goalward, into the top corner beyond the reach of Toldo.
The crowd went wild, with 11-year-old me almost losing his mind at what I’d just witnessed. Of course, Ipswich lost the second leg 4-1, were relegated at the end of the season and are now in their lowest ever league position. But seeing that goal go in was one of my happiest
memories as a fan, and one I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Matthew Gibbs – Obafemi Martins vs Arsenal (2011)
Supporting Birmingham City is tough, there’s a reason that our anthem ‘Keep Right On’ talks of a long, long road and on occasions like the League Cup final in 2011, following Blues becomes an endurance test.
The unspoken truth about cup finals is that when your team is there, they are anything but enjoyable. The seconds tick by impossibly slowly, the pressure unbearable. And when your team is outgunned and outmatched by the likes of Arsenal, the anxiety becomes suffocating.
Getting there was an astonishing achievement in itself, so it was no surprise the pre-match predictions were overwhelmingly in favour of the Gunners, for us it was merely a distraction from the fight against relegation, nothing more than a free hit.
Alex McLeish had us playing gritty, workmanlike football, very much reflective of the area of the Second City we call home, and more often than not it was difficult to enjoy.
But it worked, and for 88 minutes in North London, the boys in Royal Blue defended like lions, magnificently playing their way into Birmingham City legend. So, when Nikola Zigic’s knockdown was collectively fumbled by Koscielny and Szczęsny with 89 on the clock, yes it was lucky, but it was luck we had earned.
The ball broke loose for Obafemi Martins and the club doubled its trophy haul. My family and I screamed ourselves hoarse. The thing about supporting Birmingham, you don’t do it expecting success or glory. Life has only gotten more difficult for the club since then and we may never be in a final again.
Which is why that goal means so much to us, more than words can describe.
The 27th of February will always be Obafemi Day in the B9 area of Birmingham, it’s a goal no Bluenose will ever forget.
Andrew Haines – Robbie Simpson vs Liverpool (2012)
For me, the greatest goal of all time could never be something that is only a great display of technique, skill or even luck. My greatest goal of all time has to be something that comes as a vivid memory or at the very least has strong emotion connected to it.
So, having been a lifelong supporter of Oldham Athletic, who have in my life spent 20 years in League One before relegation and two years in League Two; a strong memory attached with emotion that is also a fantastic display of technique is a little hard to come by.
At Boundary Park, which is aptly nicknamed Ice Station Zebra for its reputation of being bitterly cold, 30-yard piledrivers or mazy runs which are capped off with a delicate finish are not all too frequent. So, my choice is set on a stage built for the greats – Anfield.
To set the scene before the curtain arises on this showstopper, a 13-year-old me watched on in Merseyside as part of a 6,000-strong contingent of away supporters as the clock ticked just past 25 minutes on a cold January Friday night.
With the game tied at 0-0, up stepped Robbie Simpson, who had been made a permanent signing just days prior after an initial loan spell, with the most spectacular blink and you’ll miss it moment.
A fast-paced pass had been played to the striker’s feet, 25 yards from Pepe Reina’s net, back to goal and in one fell swoop he had flicked the ball up with his right and thundered a half volley just inside the post with his weaker left foot.
Like the bloody climax of a Greek tragedy, pandemonium was sparked in the Anfield Road Stand and the five-second epic was complete. The resulting 5-1 mauling, though, much more forgettable.
Ryan Saxton – Daniel Sturridge vs Wales (2016)
The decision to play England’s opening game in Marseille may have been a very poor one in hindsight. History of violence since the clash in 1998, left many local hooligans and local police on edge, expecting confrontation.
Even then, they were not to expect the groups of Russian hooligans who set upon the city, with the aim to prove their superiority over the infamous English fans. England’s second game was set to be played in Lens.
In contrast, a remarkably improved decision. The Stade Bollaert-Delelis in the small town of Lens is quintessentially English in its architecture – four separate stands, old fashioned, a fair way from the ultra-modern Stade Velodrome we had just left.
It gave the all-British affair a nice feel, before and during. Gareth Bale had stoked the fire by saying that the Welsh people had much more pride and passion than the English. Bale was not hiding away, he clearly wanted to rattle the cage.
The tension was then obviously raised when Bale opened the scoring. The Welsh fans were outnumbered massively in the ground, but by no means quiet.
Jamie Vardy was brought on, Roy Hodgson was desperate for a result, and it paid off, as Vardy slotted in a sloppy but important equaliser. The winning goal was a blur. Sturridge had been brought on similarly by Hodgson as a desperate roll of the dice. He flicked the ball into the box to play a scrappy one-two, getting the ball back, it seemed to stick to his feet.
Welsh defenders fell to the floor, looking for a last gasp block, but Sturridge toe-poked it past Hennessey. I’d never experienced an atmosphere quite like it. The violence in Marseille had left a gloom over our spirits.
It was a must-win fixture against a British rival. Whose star player had been out to rile up our fans by doubting our passion. The passion after that goal was more than evident, and shines out very brightly, amongst what was otherwise a tournament to forget completely for England.
David Nesbit – Terry McDermott vs Tottenham Hotspur (1978)
Terry McDermott was an industrious midfielder who more than earned his keep at the heart of the great Liverpool side of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
For me, his greatest strike came two years earlier in September 1978, also against Tottenham, in a league game at Anfield.
With 15 minutes remaining, the home side led 6-0 and was in no mood to show any mercy. Spurs, to their credit, kept at it and in a rare foray forward forced a corner at the Kop end. Liverpool, like any good team, defended properly to the end and had a man positioned on either post. One of whom was Terry McDermott, who was charged with guarding the far post.
The Spurs’ corner was not a particularly good one, and as Alan Kennedy headed it clear to Kenny Dalglish on the edge of the box, McDermott came off his post and started to clear the penalty area.
Dalglish took Kennedy’s header under control and spun away from a Spurs player before laying a simple 15-yard pass to David Johnson on the edge of the centre circle. Johnson took a simple touch of control and then sprayed a forty-yard pass to the left-wing half-way inside the Tottenham half. Not known for having a particularly light touch, it was probably the best pass of Johnson’s career.
By now McDermott was in full sprint mode and was passing Johnson and making his way into the Tottenham half of the field. Also motoring at the same speed was Steve Heighway on the left-wing, and taking Johnson’s pass in his stride, Heighway struck a perfect first-time 60-yard cross towards the Tottenham penalty spot.
Arriving right on cue was the permed mop of our Tel who simply nodded the ball past the hapless Barry Daines in goal for one of the best goals ever seen at Anfield.
Rodney McCain – Norman Whiteside vs Everton (1985)
“Tell us about a great goal”, they said. Well, how about one that was not just great, but hugely important and scored when his team were in adversity…?!
It’s 18th May 1985. Fifteen minutes from time and facing one of the best English footballing sides in history, Manchester United are reduced to ten men. Centre-half Kevin Moran becomes the first player ever sent-off in an FA Cup Final, for a “professional foul” on Everton’s Peter Reid. Game over, surely? Not so.
Battling manfully and spurred on by the perceived injustice committed against their Irish team-mate, United’s ten men keep Howard Kendall’s Toffees at bay and so to 30 minutes of extra-time we go.
They say that sometimes it is harder to play against ten men than a team with a full complement, and that afternoon a tired Everton side struggled to make their superior numbers count.
With ten minutes remaining, and everyone’s thoughts starting to turn towards a Thursday night replay, a moment of superb vision and touch from Welshman Mark Hughes proved decisive for United. Hughes picked up the ball in his own half, with his back to the Everton goal… Surely no danger to the men in blue shirts? Wrong.
In a flash, the powerful striker turned on the ball and played a lovely outside-of-the-boot pass outright to the marauding Norman Whiteside. The big Belfast man strode forward with the ball, only tenacious Everton left-back Pat van den Hauwe between him and Neville Southall’s goal.
There still appeared to be no danger. However, by now Whiteside had backed the Welsh full-back to the edge of his own penalty area. It was only after big Norman had struck the most delicious curling left-footed ball around a stranded Southall, and into the net off the back post that anyone realised the Northern Irishman had been using van den Hauwe as a shield to unsight his own goalkeeper!
It was a goal worthy of winning any cup final. It had just won Ron Atkinson’s United this final and denied Howard Kendall’s brilliant Everton team a trophy treble. Not bad for a big lad from the Shankill Road!
Daniel Ryan – Eyal Berkovic vs Norwich City (2002)
By the time Eyal Berkovic had slalomed his way through the Norwich City defence like a boy racer drifting his Fiat Punto round the concrete supports of an underground car park, City had gone from title hopefuls to contenders.
The 2001/02 season was City’s last at Maine Road and Kevin Keegan was acquiring players that were more ‘roof’ than ‘foundation.’ City began the campaign with a 3-0 tea time win over Watford and despite being relegated back to Division One expectations were low after five years of competing up and down three different leagues.
Ali Bernabia was a surprise addition to Keegan’s squad and despite stories circulating training was haphazard at best, the former England manager found a way for two to operate in tandem. When Norwich came to Maine Road City had a win rate of 59%. Hardly championship-winning form.
City went down to ten men early in the game, as Danny Tiatto was dismissed in the 12th minute, but Berkovic was instrumental in orchestrating the win. He picked the ball up on the halfway line, brought the Kippax to its feet, and set about making the Canaries see stars.
The City faithful had become accustomed to years of yo-yoing the football pyramid following their relegation in 1996 from the top flight. Even up to that point City had flirted with relegation and Giorgi Kinkladze was always too good for the lower leagues, but Berkovic’s masterpiece weaving run was reminiscent of the little Georgian’s own works of art.
City would go on to win the league with record points and a couple of Stuart Pearce seasons aside would never look back.
James Jackson – Zinedine Zidane vs England (2004)
It was Euro 2004, England had already won the tournament before a ball was kicked. Well, so the country was expecting. They got off to a good start beating current European champions France in the first game of the group stage after 90 minutes.
However, in injury time Zinedine Zidane lines up a free-kick. 25 yards from goal. Just wide of the goal the ball was placed. The iconic look of sweat dripping down Zidane’s saturated face. As he eyes up the opposite corner.
The ‘keeper’s corner? If a keeper is beaten over the wall, fair play to the execution. To be beaten on the side you’re covering, as a ‘keeper, questions will be asked. No questions on this finish though, Zidane leathers the ball, which happened to be the classic Adidas Roterio, ‘keeper’s side with ferocious speed, as it spins up in the tangled net David James can only stand still.
Like something from Roberto Baggio’s Free Kick game, Zidane drew France level with the stunned English side in the 91st minute. No time to dwell on it though as from the resulting kick-off Steven Gerrard really did ask something of David James with a horrific back pass.
Enter, Thierry Henry to gracefully glide around the stranded James to win a penalty. Up steps Zidane, pressure penalty, David Beckham had missed one earlier in the game, Zidane throws up from the pressure before he strides up to the ball, smashing it, almost directly onto the hexagon of netting he hit just a couple minutes earlier, winning the game for France.
(Footage could not be found)
Connor Woolley – Lewis McGugan vs Ipswich Town (2010)
The greatest goal I’ve ever seen is Lewis McGugan’s 35-yard rocket of a free-kick for Nottingham Forest against Ipswich Town in October 2010.
As a Forest fan, I may be biased, but I’m backed by the fact it was the goal of the season and officially voted the City Ground’s ‘Greatest Ever Goal’ during the clubs 150th-anniversary gala.
The season had got off to a bit of an underwhelming start. We were perhaps suffering from a hangover from the previous season’s play-off defeat to Blackpool. We’d drawn seven of our opening twelve games and were slap bang in the middle of the table in thirteenth. McGugan had scored a fluke of a free kick on the Tuesday night to secure just our third win of the season over Middlesbrough.
There was nothing flukey about his second of the week. Chris Cohen won the free-kick and, under normal circumstances, would’ve floated it into the box with his left foot. However, as manager Billy Davies described, McGugan had started the season with magic in his boots.
We were already one-nil up thanks to David McGoldrick and McGugan fancied his chances. Even being at a game, for me, was a rarity.
I was still at the age of believing I was going to be a footballer myself. My own game had been cancelled and I had access to a friend’s season ticket. What made it more memorable was the fact that McGugan was from my town and had been a pupil at my school.
The goal itself was a bit of a blur. The thing I remember the most was saying to my mate, “his run up’s too much.” No, it wasn’t.
McGugan caught the ball perfectly and it thundered past the late Marton Fulop in the Ipswich goal. After the game, I caught the bus home eager to tell my dad about what I’d just seen and re-watch it on the BBC’s The Football League Show.
James Young – Fabio Grosso vs Germany (2006)
It’s 2006, your Dad is bursting with pride as he sits in front of his new plasma LCD telly that he got for the World Cup. It’s really nice. 32 inches to be precise, space for the DVD player and his really loud white Xbox 360 that he recently got for his 40th birthday below and it’s accompanied by a good Hi-Fi system that the bloke at PC World definitely didn’t lie to you about to get some nice commission.
More to the point. Italy are playing Germany in Dortmund and it’s now the business end of the tournament. The Trinidad and Tobagos and Ecuadors are long gone now. Whoever wins this is in the final. So far, it’s been a bit of a drab.
Both teams have cancelled each other out and it’s gone to extra-time. (The ten o-clock news will follow after the conclusion of this match on BBC Two.) But Italy really don’t want penalties. Their record isn’t good at the best of times from 12 yards and Germany on home soil most likely wouldn’t lose a shootout.
So, Andrea Pirlo sorts it out for the Azzurri. With one minute left of extra time, both teams are pushing numbers forward and Italy get a corner. Alessandro Del Piero sends in the corner and it falls to Pirlo on the edge of the D.
There are nine German players stood inside the box. Nine. Pirlo doesn’t care though. Every other player in this situation would shoot but it’s Pirlo so he doesn’t. He manages to pass it through nine players and somehow finds Fabio Grosso.
Grosso calmly places the ball past Jens Lehman on the turn to make it 1-0 to Italy on 119′. Germany are embarrassed on their own turf. Italy are in the final and make it two a minute later and then win the whole thing.
Meanwhile, your dad’s still annoyed about his faulty hi-fi system he was scammed in PC World.
Ross Kilvington – Zinedine Zidane vs Bayer Leverkusen (2002)
For me, the perfect goal is a volley and the perfect player is Zinedine Zidane. If you combine both of these, the final result is the incredible volley he scored for Real Madrid in the Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002.
Zidane was like a conductor who could control the entire orchestra, or in his case a football match, with every touch of the ball. Zidane was at the peak of his powers at this period, helping France to win both the World Cup and European Championships back to back, arguably winning the Euros on his own. His defining moment for me, however, is what happened on that wonderful night in Glasgow.
Real Madrid were looking for their ninth European title and were going for their third in four years. This was the only trophy Zidane had not won yet, surely it was going to happen sooner rather than later? With the influx of the galacticos sweeping through the side, this team was destined for glory.
The match itself didn’t disappoint. Raul scored first, but Lucio soon levelled for Leverkusen. On the stroke of half time this changed, everything changed. A pass is played through to Roberto Carlos, who manages to hook it into the night sky. Zidane is situated perfectly on the edge of the box waiting for the ball to drop. Time stands still as Zidane balances on his stronger foot and strikes the falling ball with his left on the volley. The ball explodes into the top corner and puts Madrid back in front.
This is my favourite goal of all time, from my favourite player of all time. And to me, this is Zidane’s footballing legacy, scoring the greatest goal the Champion’s League has ever seen.