The feeling when the ball hits the back of the net… there’s nothing like it.
And to do it for your country at a World Cup is arguably the ultimate football thrill. A great World Cup goal can bring sporting immortality – so who scored the greatest?
Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards discussed the topic in the latest Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast.
You can listen to the podcast on BBC Sounds and have your say by ranking your choices at the bottom of this page.
Saeed Al-Owairan: Saudi Arabia v Belgium (1994) (Richards: 9th, Shearer: 10th)
Saudi Arabia had qualified for the World Cup for the first time – and Saeed Al-Owairan wrote his name in World Cup folklore.
Deep in his own half, the forward latched on to a mistake from Enzo Scifo. Then he started running. And running. And running. And although he almost lost control of the ball in the opposition penalty area, he managed to poke a finish past Belgium goalkeeper Michel Preud’homme.
Shearer: It was a very special goal.
Lineker: It was from his own half – he beat about five players and it was a great finish.
Josimar: Brazil v Northern Ireland (1986) (Richards: 10th, Shearer: 7th)
The Northern Ireland defence seemed to be holding a good defensive shape as Brazil looked to work an opening.
But Josimar decided to take matters into his own hands, smacking a long-range drive which sailed over the legendary Pat Jennings’ head into the top corner of the net.
Nelinho: Brazil v Italy (1978) (Richards: 8th, Shearer: 9th)
Was it a cross or did he mean to shoot?
Whatever the case, Brazilian Nelinho’s goal from an improbable angle with the outside of his foot had so much curl on it that even the great Dino Zoff in the Italy goal could do nothing about it.
Shearer: It was an unbelievable strike.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst: Netherlands v Uruguay (2010) (Richards: 4th, Shearer: 8th)
It looked way too far out to hit.
But when the Netherlands’ captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst collected the ball down the left flank against Uruguay, he only had one thing on his mind. The left-back took a touch to set himself before thumping a thunderous shot across goal and into the far corner.
Richards: The way he ran up… it was like it wasn’t real.
Shearer: What a hit.
Lineker: Absolute stonker!
Michael Owen: England v Argentina (1998) (Richards: 5th, Shearer: 5th)
A star was born.
Liverpool teenager Michael Owen announced himself on the international stage with a brilliant solo effort, collecting David Beckham’s pass before darting past two Argentina defenders and delivering a cool finish into the top corner.
Shearer: What a goal from Michael Owen. It was the way he jinked and went past someone and then had the ability to finish it off.
Dennis Bergkamp: Netherlands v Argentina (1998) (Richards: 6th, Shearer: 3rd)
“Dennis Bergkamp, Dennis Bergkamp! DENNIS BERGKAMP!!” You only need to watch the Dutch commentary version of this goal, which has racked up almost 8m views on YouTube.
The Netherlands’ quarter-final tie against Argentina was heading for extra-time but the Arsenal man had other ideas, gloriously controlling Frank de Boer’s raking pass, turning inside of Roberto Ayala and clipping an outside-of-the-foot finish into the net.
Carlos Alberto: Brazil v Italy (1970) (Richards: 7th, Shearer: 1st)
“This goal is art”, is the how the top comment on YouTube describes Carlos Alberto’s goal against Italy in the 1970 final.
There looks to be no trouble when the Brazilians are passing the ball around to each other in their own half before the move advances and Pele tees up Alberto to drill a low finish into the bottom corner.
Benjamin Pavard: France v Argentina (2018) (Richards: 2nd, Shearer: 6th)
‘Satisfying’ is probably the best way to describe this goal. Find the GIF version of it and watch the reverse angle on repeat.
France defender Benjamin Pavard saw the ball fall to him on the edge of the box before leaning back and striking the cleanest of hits with the outside of his boot into the top corner. It was voted as the 2018 World Cup’s goal of the tournament.
Lineker: Pavard’s finish was exquisite.
James Rodriguez: Colombia v Uruguay (2014) (Richards: 3rd, Shearer: 4th)
The ‘all the angles’ video of this goal is one that brings a smile to your face.
Colombia were up against South American rivals Uruguay. James Rodriguez stunned the crowd with a sensational strike, taking the ball on his chest just outside the D, before pirouetting and smashing an unstoppable volley into the top corner.
Lineker: It was spectacular.
Shearer: The touch, the technique to flick it up and then volley it.
Diego Maradona: Argentina v England (1986) (Richards: 1st, Shearer: 2nd)
“You have to say that is magnificent. That was just pure football genius.”
Barry Davies nailed the commentary of Diego Maradona’s unforgettable solo goal against England, sprinting past Peter Reid, cutting through three challenges before swerving past Peter Shilton and slotting into the net.
Lineker: When you’re on the pitch with him, you’re simply in awe.