Zlatan Ibrahimovic has always been a respected footballer. He is Sweden’s greatest every player, has played for Barcelona, AC Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan and Ajax, was discovered by Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger and has been named to the UEFA Team of the year twice. Despite standing at a gigantic 6’5”, he possesses a silky touch on the ball, his technique matched by a select few in the world. His ambidexterity, legendary dribbling skills, unrivaled confidence and cannon-esque shot has resulted in more than a few impressive goals. On November 14th the self-proclaimed best footballer alive added to his legend against England, scoring four goals including this one to cap off his performance. A clearance bounced dangerously up-field forcing English GK Joe Hart to clear the ball with his head. Ibra, as he is affectionately nicknamed, doesn’t wait for the ball to bounce and unleashes a propeller kick from 35 meters out which flies straight into the goal, just out of Ryan Shawcross’ reach. BBC hailed the goal as “combined unfathomable imagination and expert technique,” while many others have been more blunt, simply calling it the greatest goal ever. The makings of a truly great goal are all exhibited here: the surprise factor, the difficulty, the technique involved and the forum all add to the allure of a goal’s viewing. Ibra’s goal has been the catalyst behind many a person going back to reacquaint themselves with some of the “golazo’s” they’ve cherished over the years. Here are my five favorite goals ever;
*No particular order and purposefully does not include Ibrahimovic’s goal versus England
1. Thierry Henry versus Manchester United
Thierry Henry had made a name for himself in his debut season with Arsenal, finishing as top scorer and leading the team to 2nd in the EPL. In his 2nd season he did one better, finishing top scorer in the entire league and winning the title. This was an early season encounter against rival Man United and an important fixture in deciding who would win the title. Henry scored the only goal, but what a beauty it was as he picked up a harmless pass 20 meters out, swivels on his left pivot and lobs his compatriot Fabian Barthez, stunning the United defenders.
2. Wayne Rooney versus Manchester City
In what would prove to be a crucial three points for United, Rooney proved the difference in an electrifying encounter. Nani was put through on the left, but Pablo Zabaleta deflected his cross before falling right onto Rooney’s in-swinging Bicycle kick. The keeper on the day? Joe Hart, who once again is blameless, but has already conceded two historic goals in his young career.
3. Lionel Messi versus Getafe
No list would really be complete without the finest player in soccer history (yes, I said it.) Messi has scored a lot of goals (273 to be precise) and a top five list could be made solely from his collection, such is the talent this man has in his little feet. This goal is incredible for two reasons. For one, it is eerily reminiscent of Diego Maradona’s goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, a player Messi is compared to when discussing the finest players to grace the sport. Secondly, well, it’s a goal you will only see playing FIFA 13. Messi picks the ball up in his half before slaloming, juking and speeding past six defenders before rounding the keeper and tucking the ball in the back of the net.
4. Andrea Pirlo versus Parma
Pirlo is one of my favorite artists, not footballers. He is slow, short, not particularly strong and is devoid of any athleticism, but he still manages to dominate a sport where he regularly meets players more fit for the game than he. However when he hangs his boots and leaves the game he will be remembered as one of the great passers of his era and a constant danger from dead ball situations. In this instance Pirlo treats the space he is afforded like a free kick, almost deading the ball’s movement 40 meters away before unleashing a swinging, curling and dipping shot that fools the goalkeeper and audience into believing it will miss the mark. Of course it doesn’t and instead nestles itself into the top corner. A real artist.
5. Juninho Pernambucano versus Barcelona
Juninho is in the same class of players as Pirlo, they subscribe to the same principles of passing, intelligent movement, communication between teammates and accuracy. Players like himself and Pirlo have a penchant for the audacious and this free kick against Barcelona encapsulates that word more than any goal I’ve seen. Juninho sets up a free kick 7-8 meters inside of the corner spot as his Lyon teammates set-up in the box, expecting a pinpoint cross. Juninho seemingly puts the cross too high, but it quickly dips and curls into the right far corner beating Victor Valdes and stunning a team they were not fancied against.