Kyle Hulme Football Correspondent
Those who watched England in the Friends Arena last Wednesday take on Sweden were treated to something really rather delightful. Not only did Zlatan Ibrahimovic score an impressive hat-trick, including a 30-yard free kick, he added a fourth with an audacious, see-it-to-believe-it effort; an overhead kick from some distance. But as the media and many of my friends called it the best goal ever, I couldn’t help but feel…underwhelmed.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a gem of a goal – the split second thinking, the perfect execution and the way you almost willed it into the net despite supporting the other team are all a testament to this fact. But the best goal ever? Please. In his own words, it wasn’t even the best goal Zlatan has scored. Zlatan’s portfolio includes a versatile array of goals, from backheel volleys and karate kicks, to mazy runs and 25-yard screamers that would make Tony Yeboah proud. Whilst his most recent contender is highly impressive, the nature of the mistake from Joe Hart and the fact it was in a friendly have detrimental effects on the quality of the overall goal itself, despite the quality of the strike.
To label it as the best goal ever is a bold claim – indeed, it faces stiff competition for even the best overhead kick, with Trevor Sinclair for QPR, Wayne Rooney for Manchester United and Ronaldinho for Barcelona all contenders for that mantle. The importance of the game itself also must have some bearing on the quality of goal. With this taken under consideration, surely Carlos Alberto’s goal in the 1970 World Cup Final for Brazil, or the amazing Marco van Basten volley for Holland in the 1988 European Championship’s Final? (Some may prefer the more recent goal by Taison, for Metalist in the Europa League, a very similar finish).
Football purists would also stick their oar in and dismiss the value of such strikes, preferring instead team goals. Incidentally, this is the train of thought I would associate myself with, and with good reason, too. Who could possibly argue that the way in which Argentina took apart Serbia and Montenegro in a World Cup game with quick passing and one touch football, neatly rounded off by Cambiasso, is a goal of worse quality than Ibrahimovic’s? Then there are those goals that make us weep with pleasure; Dennis Bergkamp against Newcastle, for example, or Thierry Henry vs. Manchester United – such goals are truly individual and unique, unlikely to ever be repeated. Does this fact then make them better?
Then there are the goals that mean something to you, that strike a chord in your heart and set all sorts of sentimental feelings off. For me, two of those goals are Tony Yeboah for Leeds against Wimbledon and Liverpool; two goals which led to generations of kids screaming “YEBOAHHHHHH!” when absolutely smashing the ball in the garden. More recent cherished goals would be Jermaine Beckford vs. Manchester United, or Mirko Vucinic’s screamer against Milan in the Italian Cup. To me, they are better than Ibrahimovic’s in a meaningless friendly (I mean, even I think I could penetrate a defence with Ryan Shawcross in it). But what do you think? My list is not exhaustive. I have missed out several but I wouldn’t want to bore you with goal after goal, though I definitely could speak for hours about them. Get in touch and let me know which goals meant a lot to you, and which ones are the best goals ever.