What are the best World Cup goals of all time?

Ask any football fan what their first memory of a World Cup finals is and it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll remember a specific goal be it a vital one or an iconic one.

Here we are going to focus on the latter as we count down the best World Cup goals of all time.

Diego Maradona goal against England 1986

Image source: wikipedia.org

Archie Gemmill

Year: 1978
Round: Group Stages
Fixture: Scotland vs Netherlands

Scotland never made it out of the group stages during the 1978 World Cup but their midfield maestro produced one of the best moments of the tournament. Gemmill picked up a loose ball close to the angle of the Dutch penalty area.

Seconds later the ball was in the back of the net with the former Derby County man having beaten three defenders in the blink of an eye before applying the classiest of finishes past Jan Jongbloed. That strike was Gemmill’s second of the game and, whilst Scotland won, it was ultimately not enough for them to avoid an early exit.

Michael Owen

Year: 1998
Round: Round of 16
Fixture: England vs Argentina

Michael Owen was just 18-years-old when he scored this memorable goal against Argentina at France 1998. David Beckham played Owen the ball, although the then Liverpool youngster still had a shed load of work to do; he opened his legs though and headed straight for goal with just one thought in his mind. The Argentinian defenders backed off in fear as Owen darted past them like they weren’t even there and capped off the move with an 18-yard angled drive across Carlos Roa in goal and into the top corner. The boy had arrived!

Esteban Cambiasso

Year: 2006
Round: Group Stages
Fixture: Argentina vs Serbia & Montenegro

This goal from Esteban Cambiasso wasn’t exactly a finish worthy of featuring in the list of the best World Cup goals of all time. Well, not if you look purely at the finish. Rewind a minute earlier though and you’ll fully understand why this goal deserves to feature here; it’s arguably the best team goal the World Cup has ever seen. It came in a game that Argentina ended up winning at a canter (6-0), but Cambiasso’s strike made it just 2-0. The move started in their own left back area, 24 passes followed before Cambiasso and former Chelsea man Hernan Crespo exchanged a one-two, with Crespo’s pass a delicate backheel, and then it was a straight forward finish.

Manuel Negrete

Year: 1986
Round: Round of 16
Fixture: Mexico vs Bulgaria

When people talk about Mexico 1986 the hosts performances at that tournament are somewhat overlooked both in terms of what they achieved and the moments they served up. The best of those moments came from the boot of Manuel Negrete in a 2-0 round of 16 victory over Bulgaria.

Negrete received an aerial ball 25 yards from goal. With two touches, he sat a Bulgaria defender on his backside before using a third touch to work a quick interchange with his teammate. The return to him was awkward but what followed next from Negrete was sensational; from 18 yard he instinctively threw himself horizontally to scissor kick across goal and into the bottom right corner.

James Rodríguez

Year: 2014
Round: Round of 16
Fixture: Colombia vs Uruguay

This strike is a fairly recent one and showcases exactly why so many clubs have taken a punt on James. When the ball headed into James there was no danger at all; a routine ball had been half cleared, Abel Aguilar nodded it back into James 20-yards from goal with his back to play and at an awkward height with several defenders in reasonably close proximity. What followed was a touch on the chest, a swivel and a dipping volley that crashed in off the crossbar. Fernando Muslera had no chance. This goal made Rodríguez a household name all over the world.

Diego Maradona

Year: 1986
Fixture: Argentina vs England

Was number one on our list of the best World Cup goals of all time ever going to be anything else? Not likely – and we’re England fans! Maradona was at the centre of everything in this game and he carried the name of Argentina from a dark horse in the World Cup betting odds to a second-time World Cup winner in 1986.

Whilst his ‘Hand of God’ goal stole the headlines, it was this goal that showed off every bit of Maradona’s true genius.

He collected the ball in his own half, slalomed past half of England’s team making top class defenders look like training cones before having the composure to coolly finish off the bamboozling run. His shirt from this game has recently shattered records too after selling for $9m.

The definition of iconic in every sense of the word.