There’s no “i” in team, it’s about the collective, working together, pulling, dragging and pressing to force space and ultimately score a goal. That’s basically the point of football and any number of team sports but the beauty of these sports is that they also allow for moments of individual genius.
Solo goals don’t come about too often but when they do they have the power to lift us off of our seats in a way that tiki-taka rarely does. We all go through a set of emotional stages as they unfold in front of us, it takes just a matter of seconds but it seems as though the world stops.
First there is the initial break, “Go on, drive forward” we think, then the first tackle is broken. “Oh yes! Something’s on here”, the defence is starting to back-peddle now, things are opening up and supporting players are tearing in to spaces caused by the aggressive run, a defender breaks ranks hoping to cut the problem out at the source but our man skips past his despairing lunge.
Excitement really starts to build now, something amazing is happening in front of our eyes, “Is he going to go all the way? he couldn’t could he?’, another defender falls by the wayside, “Oh my God, he could!”. Then the nerves set in, will all of this incredible work fail at the final hurdle? He’s one-on-one, there’s an intake of breath from everyone watching and then a huge release of joy as the ball hits the back of the net.
That’s the reason we all watch football, those incredible moments that come from nowhere, moments of pure joy, individual expression and skill and today we’ve collected 5 of the best such moments ever. Enjoy.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs NAC Breda
Zlatan has been doing the business for years and though he evolved in to a powerful, efficient scoring machine, conserving his energy as he waits for exactly the right moment, in his early years he was full of running and wanted to show his skills at every opportunity. There is great skill in all of these goals but most are done at top speed, keeping the defenders on the back foot as they struggle to stay with the attacker. Zlatan doesn’t do that, he just embarrasses them. This could well be that uncle who fancies himself as a bit of a player teasing the kids at a birthday party.
Ronaldo vs Compostella
Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, maybe, in fact, probably one of the best ever, but for fans of a certain age there is but one true Ronaldo. O Fenômeno or The Phenomenon as he was known was just that, he had everything, power, balance, skill, and an unnerving ability to finish that was unrivalled anywhere in world football. he wasn’t a show pony, his tricks were rarely done for the sake of it. Every drag-back put a defender on his backside, every step over created that little bit of space for a shot. There was no Messi/Cristiano style debate at the time. Ronaldo was the best and that was it. His goal against Compostella showed why.
George Weah vs Verona
Ah the 90’s, Brit-pop was at it’s height, Gameboys were the best thing in the world and AC Jimbo was on Channel 4 , introducing us to the wonders of Italian Football with a slice of cake and a ruffle of Gazzetta Dello Sport. This was a time before Sky had football on 24/7 from all over the world, before YouTube and before your twitter timeline was chock full of vines and gifs of outrageous goals from every league on the planet.
If you were a fan of the Premier League, you got a whole lot of blood and thunder, hard tackles and sure the odd moment of magic but Football Italia showed us that there was another way and George Weah was one of those players who embodied that magic and mystery. Weah got a few lucky breaks on this run but considering he picked up the ball in his own box we’ll let him off.
Ryan Giggs vs Arsenal
Probably the perfect example of what we were talking about in the intro. Imagine watching this live, imagine the build up of excitement as Giggs went further and further in to the Arsenal half. You may have started sitting down but metre by metre you would have found yourself on your feet as he entered the box and even neutrals, (we’ll excuse Arsenal fans from this), would have been blown away as he slammed the ball high in to the net. It was one of the goals of the decade and Giggs’ hairy chested celebration is almost as iconic as the goal itself.
Maradona vs England
Ok, there can be no real debate about this. This is quite simply the greatest solo goal of all time. It’s hard to believe that no England player took it upon themselves to rugby tackle him to the ground though. The temptation must have been there, especially as it arrived hot on the heels of the infamous “Hand of God” goal but thankfully they didn’t and we have the chance to rewatch this fusion of skill, power, pace and precision again and again.