Ben Arfa's Stunning Slalom For Newcastle & 9 Other Neglected Footballing Masterpieces
A truly glorious goal is a thing of real beauty. You know the sort; a wonder strike in off the bar from 40-yards, a mazy run past six defenders or a crashing volley from outside the box, all the sort of goal that can physically raise you from your seat. For some strange reason though, while some goals have been heralded and praised for what feels like forever and a day; other great goals seem to have gotten lost along the way, buried under a pile of others that are replayed again and again. For all their brilliance, how many times have you seen Van Basten’s volley, Giggs’ run against Arsenal or Rooney’s overhead??
Quite often this ignorance is down to the goal being broadcast on an obscure channel, or being scored by an unfashionable team/player, or even in a denigrated cup or league deemed inferior to the so called “best league in the world”. It seems that a pattern has evolved over the years whereby if a great goal is not scored in Premier League, with all the Sky/MOTD cameras there to capture it, it might as well not have happened. Due to this neglect, I feel it’s now high time to celebrate the greatest goals that football chose to neglect.
Gheorghe Hagi (vs. AS Monaco, 2000 - Champions League)
There is an argument that the great Gheorghe Hagi has never quite been fully appreciated in this country. Maybe it’s because he never put England to the sword like Maradona or Zidane did, or maybe it's because his talents never quite made it to our shores to fully showcase his phenomenal skill. Either way, this incredible goal for Galatasaray encapsulates the amazing and unique abilities of the greatest Romanian player to ever live.
Roberto Carlos (vs. Tenerife, 1998 – Copa del Ray)
In 1997 Roberto Carlos scored one of the greatest and most iconic free-kicks of all time. Such was the massive impact and reaction to that famous goal, this astonishing follow up for his club Real Madrid, almost passed by unnoticed. Only a few months later, Carlos unleashed this thunderous, acute-angled half-volley against Tenerife, a goal which is arguably even better than Roberto’s most famous strike.
Hatem Ben Arfa (vs. Blackburn Rovers, 2012 – F.A. Cup)
Perhaps the classic example of a goal that didn't occur in the Premier League, so for all intents and purposes, may as well never have happened. This sensational effort by Newcastle’s mercurial Hatem Ben Arfa in the F.A. Cup was nominated by FIFA as one of the 2012 goals of the year. Not that we’d know judging by the miniscule TV coverage it received; sadly for us we had to make do with it being shoehorned in at the end of ITV's late night highlights after the goals from the Norwich v Burnley tie.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (vs. NAC Breda, 2004 – Eredivisie)
Like Hagi, the talents of Zlatan have also never been fully appreciated in the UK.......that was until recently of course. Thanks to the now famous overhead kick against England in the autumn, a whole country finally awoke to his abilities. In 2004 however, following this remarkable solo effort for Ajax in the Eredivisie, the Dutch realised far earlier than us as to what the brilliant Swede was truly capable of.
Lewis McGugan (vs. Ipswich Town, 2010 – The Championship)
Nottingham Forest’s Lewis McGugan is quietly carving out a reputation for himself in the Championship as a scorer of sensational great goals. Sad thing is he's only quietly carving this reputation because in this country, the Premier League is the be-all and end-all. However, this absolute rocket (the sort of goal that is rapidly becoming synonymous with McGugan) is a strike truly worthy of a place in any league/tournament in world football.
Mauro Bressan (vs. Barcelona, 1999 – Champions League)
This year, thanks to Philippe Mexès and Zlatan Ibrahimovic we have been treated to two brilliantly outrageous, long-range overhead kicks. Long before these two however, there was Mauro Bressan for Fiorentina; in 1999 Bressan scored one of the great overhead kicks against Barcelona in the Champions League. Sadly, since then in this country, by and large this amazing goal has criminally gone unnoticed and unheeded…….that is until now.
Ricardo Quaresma (vs. Belgium, 2007 – Euro 2008 Qualifier)
Hang on, a brilliant goal by a Portuguese winger that isn't Ronaldo?!? You better believe it.There were always high hopes in Portugal that Ricardo Quaresma, along with Cristiano, would be the heirs to Luis Figo, Rui Costa, et al. As Ronaldo upheld his end of the deal, sadly Quaresma has never truly fulfilled his full potential. Potential we know he undoubtedly possesses thanks to goals like this; an incredible and outlandish outside of the boot curling effort for his country against Belgium in 2007.
Oleksandr Aliyev (vs. Turkey, 2006 – EURO 2006 Under 21’s Qualifier)
There are free-kicks......and then there is this free-kick. Quite possibly one of the sweetest and hardest struck free-kicks I have ever seen; the keeper doesn't even move, and to be honest, I don't think it would have made a difference if he did. Dynamo Kiev's Aliyev has a reputation on the continent as one of the best set piece takers in Europe, after this, it's easy to see why.
David Ginola (vs. Ferencváros, 1996 – UEFA Cup)
How many times have you seen David Ginola's brilliant, jinking waltz through the Barnsley defence from 1999?? Quite a lot I’d wager. Now, how many times have you seem this beauty for Newcastle against Ferencváros in the UEFA Cup? Let me guess, not as many? It’s tragic as this goal, although very different, is arguably just as good. I have a hunch that had this goal been scored in the league or live on Sky, you might have seen it a lot more of it!
Neymar (vs. Flamengo, 2011 – Brasileirão Série A)
After watching Neymar in the recent friendly against England, Sky Sports resident buffoon Paul Merson declared that contrary to popular belief, the young Brazilian was in fact "the most overrated player in the world". Now, while all of us outside of Brazil are still waiting patiently for Neymar to arrive on European shores to show us exactly what he is capable of week in-week out; Merse might want to check out the 2011 FIFA Goal of the Year winner that Neymar produced. If he does, he may soon fully realise quite what a talent we have on our hands.