The 100 greatest football moments of all time

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50. “The match of the century”

Italy 4-3 West Germany, Azteca Stadium
World Cup semi-final, 17 June 1970

The moment As the clock ticked into the 90th minute of Italy’s 1970 World Cup semi-final against West Germany, the Azzurri had only conceded one goal in their five tournament matches so far. And, given that the run was coming back off the back of their Euro 68 win and the Milanese clubs’ dominance of the previous decade of continental football, it could be argued that this was the culmination of Catenaccio. Roberto Boninsegna’s eight-minute goal was surely about to put them into a second consecutive final in the most constrained of manners.

Until, that was, the philosophy was undone by one of its own.

For the previous five years, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger had been a key competent of the Milan team that won the 1969 European Cup. In that time, the left-back had not once scored for the club and never scored for his country.

So he picked quite a moment to make amends. Arriving in the middle of the Italian area at pace, Schnellinger threw himself into the air and diverted a cross past Enrico Arbetosi.

And the goal didn’t just bring the score level. It brought the infamous Italian resistance and concentration crashing down.

The nature of the next few goals illustrated just how alarmingly open the game had suddenly become, while its extremities were exemplified by Franz Beckenbauer’s decision to play on with a sling despite a dislocated shoulder.

Within four minutes of extra-time starting, Gerd Muller struck from just two yards after an awful mess between Albertosi and Fabrizio Poletti. Four minutes later, right-back Tarcisio Burgnich shockingly got forward to hit what was one of only eight goals in his entire career.

And, although Luigi Riva seemed to then seal the victory, Italy were pierced again as Gerd Muller was allowed a free header from inside the six-yard box. Notoriously, Gianni Rivera – the player surprisingly ordered to take the back post – failed to clear.

Throughout the period, Italian manager Ferruccio Valcareggi had refused to compromise the Catenaccio system and play both playmakers, Sandro Mazzola and Rivera, in the same team. So this wasn’t the first time the Milan forward had been caught up in controversy.
Only brought on after 45 minutes as part of the infamous stafetta system, Rivera at least settled this debate on his terms.
He immediately hit the winner to put Italy into the final.

They said

“Schnellinger! Of all people!” German commentator Ernst Huberty

“You’ll never return to Italy.” An unnamed Italian player to Schnellinger immediately after the first equalizer

“The whole of Italy had played football and her champions that night were able to represent the entire country.” Left-wing politician and football writer Nando Dalla Chiesa

What it meant according to a commemorative plaque at the Azteca Stadium, all of that action made it the “Game of the Century”.

Whatever the truth of that, it played a part in the creation of the team of the century. There’s little doubt that the demands of the match in such searing heat sapped Italy for their eventual final against Brazil.

On a social level, the game was also seen as one of the few events before 1982 that properly unified the left and right of Italy.

Similar moments that didn’t make it Spain 4-3 Yugoslavia, Euro 2000; Holland 2-3 Czech Republic Euro 2004

 

49. El Beatle arrives

Benfica 1-5 Manchester United, Stadium of Light
European Cup quarter-final second leg, 9 March 1966

The moment Just eight years after the Munich air disaster, Manchester United were taking their first uncertain steps back in the European Cup and Benfica were the first ‘real’ team they were drawn against. Well, not just ‘real’. One of the continent’s most renowned. The Portuguese champions had won the tournament in 1961 and 1962 as well as reaching the final in 1963 and 1965. And, although United claimed a hard-fought 3-2 win at Old Trafford in the first leg, so wary was Matt Busby of Benfica’s attacking prowess that he ordered his team to “keep it as tight as possible”.

When you consider the evidence, the tactics would have been fully justified. Benfica, after all, had never been beaten at home in the European Cup. In their last 17 games there, they had scored an average of 4.3 a match. And they even surpassed that against the mighty Real Madrid, winning 5-1.

The new reality, however, was that Busby never got to use those tactics. George Best absolutely blew that approach away as well as Benfica’s records.

Within six minutes, he roared into the box and rose to head in the first. Within 13, he had ripped through three Benfica defenders to score the second and properly announce his abundant qualities to the continent.

They said

“Given the situation and the circumstances and enormity of the match, it has to be one of my favourite ever goals.” Best on his rip-roaring second

“You obviously weren’t listening.” Busby to Best at half-time

“It was like George either hadn’t heard or completely ignored Matt Busby’s instruction to keep it tight. We were in this packed stadium… and George just went out and did his own thing, playing them on his own.” Bill Foulkes

“A hurricane passed through the Luz that night, and his name was George Best.” Benfica winger Antonio Simoes

“On nights like that, good players become great players and great players become gods… it was surreal stuff.” Best

What it meant thanks to the manner Best completely opened up the game – and Benfica – United would end up winning 5-1. They would still have to wait another two years to lift the trophy itself but, in that time, Best would eclipse Eusebio as the continent’s most celebrated player. And largely thanks to performances like that at the Stadium of Light.

Famously, when United touched back down in Manchester, Best was sporting an oversized sombrero. The Portuguese press immediately proclaimed him ‘El Beatle’.

But there was more to the comparison than superficial commonalities like the hair and swagger. Because, just as the Beatles were about to make a quantum leap with their music, Best was seemingly about to make a quantum leap with his game. And, just as the Liverpudlians were about to become the world’s first super-group, Best was about to become football’s first real superstar… with all the trappings.

Similar moments that didn’t make it Wayne Rooney scores against Arsenal, 2002; Messi’s goal against Getafe, 2005

 

48. Athletic and Sociedad make a joint stand

Athletic Sociedad

Athletic Sociedad

Real Sociedad 5-0 Athletic Bilbao, Anoeta
Spanish league, 5 September 1976

The moment General Franco was dead a year but Spain was still coming to terms with the idea of – let alone introducing – democratic freedom. Indeed, it was still illegal to speak Basque and Catalan or even fly the region’s flags. The figurehead may have been gone but, to a significant degree, Spain still felt under fascist control.

So, remarkably – and perhaps fittingly given the histories of the teams in terms of local cultural representation – it was Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao who started to strip down the old constraints.

Before their first meeting of the 1976-77 season, Real Sociedad player Josean de la Hoz Uranga convinced both teams that – as representatives of the Basque country – they should make a stand. As they entered the field, captains Inaxio Kortabarria and Jose Angel Iribar were jointly carrying the Ikurrina – the outlawed flag of the Basque country. It was an act that may have still been illegal but it was also hugely emotional: the Anoeta crowd went wild.

They said

“A lot of people cried when we came out with the flag.” Josean de la Hoz Uranga, the Real Sociedad player who came up with the idea

“We were all Basques who had come through the youth system, both teams. We felt we had to do something.” Uranga

What it meant Politically, a huge amount. The simple, single act is credited with quickening Spain’s transition to democracy as well as the autonomy and self-expression of the regions. But the act would also foreshadow a shift in football terms too. By 1980, the clubs would begin a period in which they shared four league titles between them, with both winning consecutive titles. It represented the longest time Real Madrid had gone without a league since 1953.

 

47. Giggs goes alone

Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal, Villa Park
FA Cup semi-final replay, 14 April 1999

The moment In a match that had almost everything, Ryan Giggs tried to beat almost everyone. But, clearly, such extremes were going to be needed in order to settle a game like this.

At the peak of a pulsating rivalry between the two clubs, neither side had lost since Christmas. And, only emphasising the unyielding wills involved, both admirably recovered from significant reversals here. First, Dennis Bergkamp equalled David Beckham’s opener. Then, United rallied after Roy Keane’s red card. In the 92nd minute, Peter Schmeichel saved a Bergkamp penalty… but Arsenal still went on to dominate extra-time. It seemed only a matter of time until United ceded.

Which was where Giggs stepped in.

Pouncing on an atrociously misplaced Patrick Vieira pass in his own half, the substitute then beat five Arsenal players – including Vieira as well as Lee Dixon twice – on a coruscating run. Initially, it looked like he had taken the ball a touch too far… only to then rifle the ball into the roof of David Seaman’s net.

They said

“Words fail me.” Andy Gray on Sky

“He went through one of the best defences in the history of the English game and smashed it past England’s number one. The FA Cup’s greatest moment, surely.” Gary Neville

What it meant That the last ever FA Cup semi-final replay would receive a fitting finale.

But the goal also meant that United’s incredible season would too. As well as setting them up for the first leg of an unprecedented English treble by putting them in the FA Cup final, it arguably set up the rest of the treble too.

At that point, both United and Arsenal were level on points at the top of the table with just five games left. A win for Arsene Wenger’s side might well have altered the momentum of the season’s climax.

Instead, United gained an important psychological edge over Arsenal while also signalling – and building – the kind of character and courage that could overcome any setback. In that, it was the type of enthralling, engaging match that defined a scarcely believable season.

Similar moments that didn’t make it Roy Keane v Juventus, 1999; Steven Gerrard v Olympiakos, 2004-05

 

46. Last few minutes of the Bundesliga 1991-92

Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Stuttgart, BayArena
Bundesliga, 16 May 1992

The moment Just four minutes of the Bundesliga season were left. And three teams were still very much in it.

Before the game, Eintracht Frankfurt had led both Borussia Dortmund and Stuttgart on mere goal difference. But, by the 86th minute, they were only drawing away to Hansa Rostock. By contrast, Borussia Dortmund – who almost went out of business six years previously – were 1-0 up at Duisburg. As it stood, with Stuttgart also drawing at Bayer Leverkusen, Dortmund would win a first title since 1963. Except for the fact that almost 29 years worth of action was being crammed into 70 at the BayArena. After a cautious opening 20, Leverkusen were awarded a controversial penalty that Martin Kree converted. Stuttgart, however, couldn’t exactly lament bad luck. Over the next few minutes, a scramble was somehow kept out of their net before Stuttgart were awarded a spot-kick of their own – for a foul that took place outside the box. Fritz Walter – named after the German legend – converted.

It finally gave Stuttgart the impetus they required. Over the course of the second half, they absolutely pummelled the Leverkusen goal. Goalkeeper Rudiger Vollborn was having the game of his life. Markus Von Ahlen made a goalline clearance before getting up to block a certain goal. At the same time, at Rostock, Frankfurt were denied a second stone-wall penalty in successive weeks. Something was definitely stirring.

Not least Matthias Sammer. In his last game for Stuttgart, he let the emotion of the occasion. The midfielder angrily debated a yellow card to the point of being given a second.

Stuttgart were down to 10 men. And looked down and out.

Until, four minutes from time, Leverkusen failed to clear a corner. Kogl collected, ran to the by-line and clipped over a hopefully cross.

There waiting – in every sense – was Guido Buchwald. The defender was the only survivor of Stuttgart’s sole previous Bundesliga. And he settled their second with a decisive header.

Stuttgart may have led the table for a total of only two weeks over the entire season. But they led it at the most important point.

They said

“A climax that not even the entertainment pros at the new private TV stations would have dared to script.” Uli Hesse

What it meant The Bundesliga’s Michael Thomas moment, not least because of the fact it fittingly finished the first season in which supporters could watch live league matches regularly. Indeed, the nature of the climax was almost cinematic.

And it was also one of the most influential. For a start, Stuttgart’s second title would signal one of the most open decades in German football, with both Werder Bremen and Kaiserslautern going on to win the title over the next few years and Bayern Munich finishing in 10th that season.

Because, moreover, such a lowly finish for Bayern would mean they were initially denied the huge bonuses all of the new TV prize money would bring.

Dortmund, by contrast, would greatly benefit. Indeed, finishing second was arguably a blessing in disguise. It meant that they entered the Uefa Cup the following season, eventually reaching the final. And, with every other German club going out of Europe oddly early that season, Dortmund reaped even more from TV money and got to greatly replenish their side.

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the 1991-92 season was arguably the most influential factor in their eventual 1997 Champions League win after manager Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Similar moments that didn’t make it Patrick Andersson wins the 2001 Bundesliga for Bayern in the last minute; helicopter Sunday in Scotland, 2003

 

45. Pele’s halfway measures

Brazil 4-1 Czechoslovakia, Estadio Jalisco
World Cup group stage, 3 June 1970

The moment With the score at 1-1 in the two countries’ first game of the 1970 World Cup, Brazil were beginning to assert their dominance. But, more importantly, Pele began to assert their excellence. When the ball broke just inside the centre-circle in his own half, inspiration suddenly struck. Spotting Czechoslovakian goalkeeper Ivo Viktor off his line, the number-10 – with his first touch – ran up to the rolling ball and smacked it just wide of the post with a supreme effort.

They said

“He must have a brain like a knife-edge.” David Coleman mixes a few metaphors

What it meant At the time, scoring from inside your own half in football was seen as something akin to a hole-in-one, a four-minute mile or a perfect 10 in figure-skating. And, here, Pele showed how close he was to becoming a perfect number 10 in football. The fact he just about failed seemed to only add to the feat. Unlike so many of the time, Pele had the sheer audacity – and ability – to try it. And that heralded a truth about this Brazil team as a whole. Throughout that tournament, they would seemingly test the boundaries of football at will. In that game alone, Rivelino would apparently patent the bending free-kick. So Pele’s shot was some introduction.

Similar moments that didn’t make it Pele’s dummy against Uruguay; Beckham’s goal against Wimbledon 1996-97

 

44. Suarez’s sleight of hand

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7XJuq16KoQ

Uruguay 1-1 Ghana, Soccer City
World Cup quarter-final, 2 July 2010

The moment There’s a minute left in extra-time of a deadlocked World Cup quarter-final and Ghana are suddenly a metre from the Uruguayan goal. It looks like long periods of pressure are going to finally pay off. Finally, Dominic Adiyiah launches a header towards goal that looks too well-struck and too well-placed for a Uruguayan to deal with… at least by any fair means. Diving backwards, Luis Suarez throws up his hand and palms the ball away.

He is immediately red-card and Asamoah Gyan – one of the players of the tournament at that point – is given the chance to win it with the last kick. If he does so, Ghana will be the first African team to reach the semi-finals. And, given that this is also the first African World Cup, it will have symbolically raised the bar.

Instead, Gyan hits it.

Worse, Suarez is seen on the line abrasively celebrating. Uruguay go onto win the shoot-out.

They said

“The hand of God now belongs to me.” Suarez shows little remorse

“Everyone was sad and crying. The mood was down, no one was happy about what happened. We were so close to making it. We know we were doing it for all of Africa as well.” John Pantsil

“I made the save of the tournament… so it was worth it.” Suarez

“Saying we cheated Ghana is too harsh a word to use. We also abide by what the referee did. It could have been a mistake. Yes, he stuck his hand out, but it’s not cheating. What else do you want? Is Suárez also to blame for Ghana missing the penalty? We try to be dignified, and if we lose a match, we look for the reasons for it. You shouldn’t look to third parties.” Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez

“In the same situation, there is no chance the Ghana players would have used our hands.” Pantsil

“There was no alternative but for me to do that, and when they missed the penalty, I thought: it is a miracle and we are alive in the tournament.” Suarez offers his rationale

What it meant that an African team still haven’t reached a World Cup semi-final but also that Uruguay reached their first in 40 years.

Moreover, coming just months after Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland to actually get France to that World Cup, the incident sparked a huge debate about morality in football.

Similar moments that didn’t make it Thierry Henry v Ireland, 2009

 

43. Red Star take a stunning minute to win it

Red Star Belgrade 2-2 Bayern Munich (4-3 agg), Marakana
European Cup semi-final second leg, 24 April 1991

The moment Red Star Belgrade were in a state of shock.

Because they should, really, have already secured their first ever European Cup final place.

In the first leg of the semi-final away to Bayern Munich, they had won the game 2-1 thanks to an initial equaliser that showed all the best qualities of Yugoslavian football: a breakaway goal that, as Jonathan Wilson wrote, “is as close to perfection as any goal can be”. And, 25 minutes into the second leg, they appeared to have made the tie safe with a deflected Sinisa Mihaijlovic free-kick.

It was then, though, that they showed all the worst of Yugoslavian football. Betraying a stereotypical psychological fickleness that had afflicted its teams for years, Red Star caved. First, Stevan Stojanovic allowed a Klaus Augenthaler effort to slip under him. Then, within five minutes, Manfred Bender equalised. And, for the last 20, it was all Bayern. In a frantic final minute, they even hit the post.

In extra-time, they would surely hit the spot.

Except Red Star had one last attack. Not that they could even do that right at that point. As Mihaijlovic attempted to sweep in a Robert Prosinecki pass with Darko Pancev and Dragisa Binic waiting, he badly miskicked. It should have been an easy clearance. Instead, Augenthaler’s effort improbably looped back and over Raimond Aumann to give Red Star a farcical – but fantastic victory.

They said

“We were very tense because the momentum had turned against us… if it had gone to extra-time we probably would have lost.” Binic

“Luck is very important in football. And at that moment it shone on us.” Stojanovic

What it meant That Red Star would go into win the former Yugoslavia’s only European Cup and just Eastern Europe’s second after Steaua Bucharest. The final, however, would have none of the effervescent football or drama that defined that semi-final or the team as a whole. Red Star would hold on 0-0 to eventually beat Marseille on penalties.

That looked like it would be the beginning of something special for a genuinely star-studded, spectacular team. Instead, it proved a premature climax before the break-up of both the former Yugoslavia and the Red Star side itself.

 

42. Di Stefano passes the torch to Eusebio

Benfica 5-3 Real Madrid, Olympic Stadium
European Cup final, 2 May 1962

The moment In 1962, it was difficult to escape the feeling that the nascent European Cup was at a crossroads. In the previous season, Benfica had become the first team to win the trophy other than Real Madrid. But, now that the Spanish champions were back in the final after no more than a one-year absence, they had the opportunity to prove that was simply an aberration and that the trophy was their rightful property.

Certainly, that was the way it looked in the first half. With Alfredo Di Stefano dominating and Ferenc Puskas finishing, Real roared into a 2-0 and then 3-2 lead.

But it was at that point Eusebio stepped up to show that there had been a continental shift. First he created the space for Mario Coluna’s equaliser. Then, playing in his first European Cup final, the striker picked the ball up in his own half and rampaged into the Real box. There was no other option but to bring him down. And there was no other outcome than Eusebio finishing the penalty. Three minutes later, then, came the coup de grace. Illustrating his renowned shooting ability, Eusebio lashed a free-kick home.

And, in a metaphorical passing of the torch after the game, Di Stefano passed his shirt to the young Portuguese.

They said

“Di Stefano’s shirt is still the most prized possession I have from football. I held onto it tight! When the fans lifted me into the air, I had one hand waving at everyone and the other was squeezing the shirt very tight. In my innocence, the most important thing for me was to have my idol’s shirt.” Eusebio

What it meant By winning a second successive trophy, hat Benfica had definitively taken Real Madrid’s mantle. And that Eusebio had definitively taken Di Stefano’s. Ferenc Puskas, meanwhile, became the only player to score a hat-trick in the final and lose.

Similar moments that didn’t make it Cesc Fabregas bossing Patrick Vieira in the 2005-06 Champions League

 

41. Sampdoria smash Inter and grab the title

Inter 0-2 Sampdoria, San Siro
Serie A, 5 May 1991

The moment Quite possibly the most pulsating title showdown of all time.

As if this game didn’t have enough in it, on the line was Sampdoria’s first ever Scudetto. As they took to the San Siro pitch they were three points ahead of Inter with four games remaining. And, since it was only two points for a win, they effectively only needed the draw.

On the balance of play though, they should have been hammered by about 10 goals.

As Rob Smyth has expertly surmised, Inter had 24 shots to Sampdoria’s six. Inter keeper Walter Zenga didn’t make a single save; Gianluca Pagliuca made 14 including, unthinkably, a penalty from Lothar Matthaus.

And, still, that was only the beginning of the drama. Just before half-time, after relentless, impassioned Inter attacking, Jurgen Klinsmann had a superb goal wrongly disallowed for offside. Moments later, Giuseppe Bergomi and Roberto Mancini were sent off for a scuffle. And, although the game scarcely needed it, that only opened up the game even before.

After half-time, despite more Inter pressure, Sampdoria broke for Beppe Dossena to smash home the opener. And potential clincher. Except, with Giovanni Trapattoni’s Inter still imbued with such belief, the game remained in the balance. Even after Matthaus had his penalty saved. The San Siro almost erupted out of sheer anxiety when Attilio Lombardo hit the post and then Gianluca Vialli had a follow-up cleared off the line.

Until, finally, Vialli secured victory.

They said

“In years to come people will be saying ‘I was here. I was at that game!’ Grown men, hardened football-watchers, are scarcely able to turn their eyes to this.” A screaming Martin Tyler in the Sky commentary box

“The success was built on an unbreakable squad unity.” John Foot, Italian football historian

What it meant That Sampdoria won their first ever title and that Giovanni Trapattoni would leave Inter to return to Juventus. The departure was a factor in a title drought that would last 16 years for the Milanese giants.

Perhaps more than anything, though, the nature of the match – as well as the fact that Sampdoria would reach the Champions League final the following season – emphasised the sheer quality of Serie A at the time.

Ostensibly, this was a title showdown between a typically defensive Trapattoni team and a characteristically attacking Vujadin Boskov side. But you wouldn’t have thought it looking at the game. And, as much as the circumstances and desperation involved, that was largely down to the quality of players and tactics. With the very best of both, it’s arguable that no European league has ever reached the heights of Serie A in that period.

Similar moments that didn’t make it Eric Cantona scores against Newcastle, 1995-96

 

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96 comments
FrankLovett
FrankLovett

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FrankLovett
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mink
mink

Gerrie Muhren 1973 Real Madrid-Ajax 0-1 "keepie-uppie"

 

thefootballfan
thefootballfan

u missed bulgaria win over germany in the world cup.

thefootballfan
thefootballfan

what about did it cross the line this time for england

ApoorvGupta
ApoorvGupta

I expected to see a list of the best players in the world for the previous year, as you made one last year. I hope you find the time to make it this year too. I love going through the lists and tell all my friends about this site too.

JordanPratt1
JordanPratt1

@ConnaB Okay then I'll get started then :P

Ewan MacKenna
Ewan MacKenna

Pat Devlin asks aspiring journalist during after-match interview if he had stuck his fingers in a socket for instance?

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

We were thinking that would become an issue. We had to stay true to our formula.system though, and that scored low on influence, quality etc... Think about it another way... would it feel so high-profile if it was from a fourth tier from outside England? Plus, Carlisle got relegated two years later.

Alex Cooper
Alex Cooper

Presumably a typo (or two!) No. 2 Maradona, does not add up to 23!

Shakir Choudhury
Shakir Choudhury

Jimmy Glass' extra time winner to save Carlisle United from conference football......

Daniel Collins
Daniel Collins

Two big one's missing for me: -David May stealing the limelight on the podium after the '99 CL final. -Liam Coyle leaving Carles Puyol on his arse when Derry City played Barcelona at the Brandywell in 2003.

NathanBarnes
NathanBarnes

How about Arsenal's unbeaten run? Just saying..

Manicowl
Manicowl

I'm surprised the match between Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Zagreb that we're told started the war in the Balkans isn't in there, or would that be classed in the same vein as Heysel, Hillsborough etc...?

adamrhbrown
adamrhbrown

And so, we come to this list. Well...hmmm. Difficult to say really. What makes a great moment is very much more difficult to analyse than the other categories established so far. For what it's worth, I feel that the word needs a stricter definition than what applies here. I mentioned in my email to you that I think a 'moment' should be no more than 5 mins tops, and even that might be overstating it.

Using The Times' Wish You Were There moments as a guide, I have drafted up a list of what I believe to be the 50 Most Iconic English Football TV Events, a word that I feel works better when you want to measure whole matches (or even campaigns) against isolated incidents - as well as acknowledging the influence of broadcasting. On that basis I can't disagree with much of your selection here, though I cannot fathom why such high rankings are bestowed upon each episode of Mourinho and Barca's tit-for-tat just yet.

Also, let me just clarify how surreal as an English fan it is to see Stan Collymore above "They think it's all over" and beg you to reconsider, simply because we cannot afford him to actually see that!

I also strongly disagree with ranking Bergkamp so high. Obviously the goal is of the highest quality, but how can the even more extraordinary - as well as more iconic and more influential - contributions of Cantona, Tardelli and Zidane rank so far down the list in comparison? (I'm not trying to glorify violence, by the way. Just those two examples.)

Re that goal though, I recently came across a New York Times blog post from the 2006 World Cup, reflecting on previous Argentina/Holland games. Although mostly about the 1978 final, Bergkamp's goal obviously gets a mention. Scrolling down to the comments, it amused me greatly to find the first one by an American sports fan, suitably unimpressed! (Though, to be fair, considerably more of his countrymen jumped in to disassociate themselves from such a remark.)

Last thing for now - Maradona's goals vs England should be one entry. The contrast is the real story - an apt metaphor for both the man and the wider culture of his homeland. Plus it just about squeezes into my five minute limit. (Alright, make it 10, then Liverpool's bizarre comeback can still be included as well.)

Meerkat
Meerkat

Fascinating as always. The major omissions for me would be Heysel, Munich, Superga (although these were more 'important' than 'great') and Jimmy Glass '99.I do wish there were more actual "moments" than summaries of important matches, particularly in the top 50. I'd also like to see more moments that transcend football on the pitch alone; for example, Kepto and Gun: in the era of fanzines, phone-ins, supporters' clubs and Fever Pitch, it was clear fans had a voice and influence on the game (of varying levels)...this story (that it was fictitious is irrelevant) and the reaction to it showed how football is universal and can bring anyone together.I don't see why there are 2 moments of the Mourinho vs Barca saga; can these not be distilled into one? Pick the most important and lasting, include a summary of the other? Nice read though

PadraigOHooligan
PadraigOHooligan

A great list. I of course disagree with the placing of many things. For one I would have had Van Basten's goal and the Cruyff turn higher as actual moments, but that's the point of this, a great read. I can't think of any major omissions as of yet but I will return and whinge about something that pops into my head later, you can be sure.

It puts me in mind of the Orbis World Cup 90 Collection binder which was my first introduction to a lot of the moments on the list.

footballistico
footballistico

Great site. No place to include Thuram's two goals against Croatia (world cup 1998 semi-final ) ? It's a good example of an event transcending a player.

Miguel Delaney
Miguel Delaney

It was truly brilliant. But our shortlist ran to the hundreds. Many great moments missed out. What, for example, would you take out to put it in?

jimm1y
jimm1y

great list, iv only 1 problem. you never used jimmy magee's commentary for the maradona goal!

Big Fat Ronaldo
Big Fat Ronaldo

There must be a place for this. Kanu (ex-Inter Milan, Ajax and Arsenal) extraordinary last minute equaliser versus Brazil in the 1996 Olympic semi-final.

In a crowded last minute six yard box, with his team 2-3 down, he flicks the ball up with his back to goal and chips it over the Dida, in one movement

Nigeria was 3-1 down at half time at one stage, Brazil had a clear goal disallowed that would have made it 4-1, Nigeria missed a penalty while it was 3-1, and Kanu eventually scored a sensational Golden Goal to end it in extra time, completely dumbfooling the Brazilian defence before smashing home from 18yards

All this happened before without me mentioning the sheer beauty, and incredible exhibition of skilled and attacking football from both sides.....for the Brazilian team had - Ronaldo da Lima ( one month before THE INCREDIBLE 96/97 season at Barcelona), Rivaldo, Bebeto, Roberto Carlos, the maestro Juninho in his pomp, Flavio Conceiao (Real Madrid), Ze Elias, the great centre back Aldair and Dida in goal.

This set the stage for Nigeria's equally pulsating and dramatic final against the Argentina team, which had - Hernan Crespo, Mattias Almeyda, Diego Simeone, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Ayala, Nestor Sensini, Ariel Ortega, Claudio Lopez,Jose Chamot

Nigeria went behind 5times in both semi final and final and still won the tournament

The Nigeria Brazil game also made it into World Soccer Magazine's 50 greatest matches of all time

And before this, had any team outside Europe or South America won an an International Football tournament??? I doubt

It also inspired the Nigerian national team to record momentous victories over Spain and Bulgaria at France 1998 World Cup, and the Cameroun team to retain the Olympic Football title in 2000 for Africa

It deserves an inclusion

Football Pantheon
Football Pantheon

We were thinking that would become an issue. We had to stay true to our formula.system though, and that scored low on influence, quality etc... Think about it another way... would it feel so high-profile if it was from a fourth tier from outside England? Plus, Carlisle got relegated two years later.

adamabyss
adamabyss

You had better revise this to include Henry's return goal at Arsenal tonight. Absolutely incredible, unprecedented emotional scenes.

MDelaneyST
MDelaneyST moderator

@Meerkat Cheers as ever. The reason we didn't include Heysel, Hillsborough, Munich or Superga is because we didn't want to trivialise or be flippant about tragedies (by including them in such a list in the first place), and we also wanted this to mostly be a 'celebration' of the game, so made a conscious decision to leave such terrible incidents.Re the likes of Fever Pitch, they're simply too hard to quantify. And, again, that's not really the style we were going for. With respect, you're also the first person to suggest that!As for Glass, well the reason it's not included is because it scored low in a few categories (not nature obviously). It didn't really have an influence on the game and, mostly, Carlisle were relegated within a few years!

As for two moments from the Mourinho-Barca saga, well the fact is they were important even apart from the saga: one set the tactical template of the game, the other was one of the landmark, all-time performances.But cheers again! All feedback is welcome!

Meerkat
Meerkat

I'm also not sure how to format comments so paragraph spaces aren't deleted on publication?

adamrhbrown
adamrhbrown

@Meerkat You can't have genuine tragedies on a list of great moments! I would however nominate the rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone before the 1989 FA Cup final (or - as mentioned in the relevant entry - the one performed by AC Milan and Real Madrid fans in that semi final).

MDelaneyST
MDelaneyST moderator

@BenjaminBildeBoelsmand Pearce isn't a bad shout but, consider this: in the 'global game', Baggio's goal against Chile was possibly bigger if we're going to go along those lines. It was his first World Cup game since the miss against Brazil (which, most of all, settled an actual World Cup) and, moreover, he was a much bigger name than Pearce.As for Glass, well the reason it's not included is because it scored low in a few categories (not nature obviously). It didn't really have an influence on the game and, mostly, Carlisle were relegated within a few years!I know what you're saying about the game being at its purest, but it can hardly be described as the game at its "finest"!

Quality, after all, had to be one of our considerations!

adamrhbrown
adamrhbrown

@PadraigOHooligan Yes, I too was surprised to see that anyone would rank Bergkamp ahead of his two countrymen, great goal that it is, especially as Cruyff's turn has come to signify something even beyond the player's abilities. If it's been judged so favourably just because it happened in the last minute I'd say Michael Thomas, Jimmy Glass, and Man Utd vs Bayern all easily beat it for pure drama - and they actually settled the outcomes of whole seasons, not one inconsequential quarter final match.

adamabyss
adamabyss

@footballistico good suggestion. I believe they were the only two goals he ever scored for France. Don't you mean a player transcending an event?

MDelaneyST
MDelaneyST moderator

@adamabyss Well, let's not go nuts! It wouldn't score highly in too many of our criteria like "importance", "impact on history" (although we wouldn't know that for a while).

Golden Ball
Golden Ball

 @MDelaneyST  @Meerkat good decision not to include Hillsborough, Heysel and Munich. Just wondering why King Kennys winner against Brugge in 78 wasnt included. It was significant. Cheers!

Golden Ball
Golden Ball

 @adamrhbrown  @Meerkat The replay against Forest could have been Included as well. And speaking about Liverpool...The 88 season game against Forest, the 5-0 demolition was huge.

BenjaminBildeBoelsmand
BenjaminBildeBoelsmand

@MDelaneyST@BenjaminBildeBoelsmand I probably agree with you on Baggio, even though the screams of Pearce have me in tears every time (and as a dane it's not the national emotions). And with Glass I must respectfully disagree with the decision. To me, it's what football is about.

Once again thanks for the fantastic work you do!

adamabyss
adamabyss

@MDelaneyST It was his 227th goal for them though - a goal that no one ever thought would be scored. And just a few weeks after they unveiled a statue of him. Isn't it even supposed to be bad luck to have a statue of yourself erected while you are still alive (or maybe that's street names, haha)? Evidently it wasn't unlucky for him! He's had a pretty historical impact on the world game though, he was the best player in the world for a couple of years and this is the latest (last?) chapter. Night.