Part 3 of our Goal of all Seasons run down takes us from position 15-11. The competition is tough and a few scorers, Wayne Rooney in particular, may feel hard done by not to make the top 10.
To rank the goals, I have used a highly technical algorithm. My measures are as follows;
– ‘If I had 10,000 attempts to score that goal, how many times would I succeed?’
– ‘Did it look cool?’
– ‘Other ‘factors’ (context of goal, standard of kit/boots, celebration etc) to be used as tie-breakers’
As with every section, feel free to use the comments to tell me exactly why I am wrong!
The table so far
26 – Jack Wilshere (ARSENAL vs West Brom 14/15)
25 – Thierry Henry (ARSENAL vs Spurs 02/03)
24 – Dietmar Hamann (LIVERPOOL vs Portsmouth 03/04)
23 – Wayne Rooney (MAN UTD vs M’Boro 04/05)
22 – Shaun Bartlett (CHARLTON vs Leicester 00/01)
21 – Maynor Figeuroa (Stoke vs WIGAN 09/10)
20 – Emmanuel Adebayor (Spurs vs ARSENAL 07/08)
19 – Steven Gerrard (LIVERPOOL vs West Ham 05/06
18 – Rod Wallace (LEEDS vs Spurs 93/94)
17 – Dennis Bergkamp (Leicester vs ARSENAL 97/98)
16 – Ryan Giggs (MAN UTD vs Arsenal 98/99)
15 – Glen Johnson (PORTSMOUTH vs Hull 08/09)
Not a name you may expect to see on this list. As much as it pains me to praise a goal scored by a Portsmouth player, this is some strike.
Johnson is arriving at speed when he brings the ball under control on his chest around 35 yards from goal. The logical next step would be to get the ball on the floor and find a pass but that is not how you win Goal of the Season. The right back opts for a left footed volley that combines power and an arcing trajectory to find the top left corner of the Fratton Park net. Boaz Myhill doesn’t have time to even consider diving. A keeper glancing over their shoulder, feet planted, adds a certain element of fun to the viewing experience.
As with a few on this list, it is impossible to know if Johnson had the top corner in mind when he unleashed his rocket. He reacted to an opportunity and attempted the kind of effort every kid tries thousands of times at the local park. The touch excellent, finish spectacular, all whilst on the run meaning the celebration can begin without breaking stride.
I initially sided towards ‘hit and hope’ when re-watching this finish but a little YouTube research changed my opinion at least somewhat. For all of Glen Johnson’s faults as a footballer (including being a right back wearing number 5 and later 8 at Stoke), he has a track record for great goals. There is, for some reason, a compilation video of Johnson’s nine Liverpool goals online. Strangely, it is well worth a watch. Perhaps Johnson knew exactly what he was doing as he lined up, left footed, striking the ball with both feet in mid-air.
14 – Wayne Rooney (MAN UTD vs Bolton 06/07)
I would like to think that Wayne Rooney snapped this award in half and gave the second part to Cristiano Ronaldo. Both in their early 20s, the Rooney/Ronaldo combination accounted for 46 goals for United during the 06/07 season as they shared the club’s Golden Boot award. It seems this was a case of two very different players working in perfect symmetry. The Old Trafford faithful have rarely had it so good since.
Few things in football are as exciting to watch as a well-executed counter attack. And this was certainly a well-executed counter attack. 15 seconds after Bolton took a corner they were watching helplessly as Rooney’s clever dinked finish meet the back of their net. Sometimes there is very little that can stop out and out pace.
Ronaldo, chesting the ball down in his own box and casually playing a one two with Rooney, starts the move with exceptional style. All credit to England’s all-time top scorer for keeping pace with Cristiano as he covers almost the entire pitch in 6 seconds, whilst dribbling a football. All that is left is a simple pass, clean first touch and neat finish. Easy.
That is what makes this goal special. It all looks easy. You only usually see a counter attack of this speed on FIFA or Pro Evo. From the initial control to the calm finish, every part of this goal is so much harder than Ronaldo and Rooney made it look.
13 – Dalian Atkinson (ASTON VILLA vs Wimbledon 92/93)
Immediate bonus points awarded for the lace tie collar. A fantastically entertaining goal. Three players shrugged off and stylish chipped finish. If chip had nestled in top corner/in off the bar, this could have been a real contender.
This weaving solo effort takes us back to a simpler time. Atkinson, tragically no longer with us, runs with skill and power at the heart of Wimbledon’s defence. He rides a couple of ‘industrial’ challenges from the Crazy Gang before looking up and deciding to finish with flamboyance.
The dribbling is not the smoothest; Atkinson looks close to losing control at times, but he manages to adjust. The first ever Premier League Goal of the Season set a high standard for his predecessors to follow.
12 – Wayne Rooney (MAN UTD vs Man City 10/11)
A Premier League classic. A career defining moment. A stroke of pure genius.
Or a deflected cross followed by a shin?
Controversially low on the list as I am focusing on the goal itself above the situation in which it was scored (see goal 16). This will likely be Wayne Rooney’s best-remembered action of what has been a goal-laden career. As great as this goal undoubtedly is, but the competition is tough.
I do not see this as the most graceful of bicycle kicks and there is certainly a doubt that Rooney caught the ball cleanly with the meat of the boot. A pause at moment of impact hints towards at least some shin assistance. It is still brilliant though.
The deflection on Nani’s cross forces Rooney to adapt. Reaching back for the ball, he is able to generate power and send the ball flying in to the top right corner. The image of Joe Hart looking hopelessly over his left shoulder is memorable in itself. This goal will reappear on Manchester derby day for decades to come. Those present at Old Trafford that day will likely never forget the image of Rooney, arms proudly outstretched, lapping up the adulation of the Stretford End.
11 – Dele Alli (Crystal Palace vs SPURS 15/16)
2015/16 was a fantastic Premier League season. Leicester’s miracle campaign turned every neutral supporter in to an honorary Fox. Harry Kane held off competition from Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy to win the golden boot by a single strike. This season also blessed us with a veritable feast of beautiful goals. I must give honourable mentions to Matt Ritchie (B’mouth vs S’land), Wabhi Khazri (S’land vs Chelsea), Cuco Martina (Soton vs Arsenal) and Dimitri Payet’s ridiculous free kick for West Ham against Palace.
But none of them topped the ‘best goal’ tree. That honour went to Dele Alli.
Alli’s goal combines control, improvisation and accurate long range finishing with seemingly effortless ease. If you have ever watched lower league football; this is the kind of effort that you have seen the substitutes attempt at half time when they are supposed to be warming up. The next step usually involves fishing the ball out of the trees. No such problem for Alli.
Alli’s goal was also important; giving Spurs a late lead at Selhurst Park whilst still chasing a title that would ultimately elude them. The goal itself was flashy but with purpose. The skill involved created the opportunity rather than simply adding decoration. Having beaten a defender with his looping second touch, you would have got long odds on him finding the net with his third.
The finish itself was pinpoint but not as aesthetically pleasing as some others on this list. A low drive is often the most effective option but memorable wonder goals, generally, end up in the top corner. Beauty aside, this might well be one of the most technically difficult goals on the list. To beat a Premier League keeper from range with an over-the-shoulder volley is no mean feat.