Diego Armando Maradona had seven-star skills.

On the Origin of Skill Moves: Charles Darwin’s got nothing on highly-evolved ballers

Imagine being the first person to do anything. Somebody baked the first loaf of bread, somebody was the first person to circumnavigate the globe, and somebody did the first rainbow flick.

We’re tracing the evolutionary tree of skills back to its revolutionary roots to unearth the pioneers of our favourite moves. Now, obviously if you reckon your grandad’s pal Jelly Legs Johnson invented one of these moves playing for Willington A.F.C. between the wars, then we’re not going to argue with you. But this lot brought them to the world’s attention.

Enough chat. The good stuff awaits below:

The Rainbow Flick: Kaneko

According to the record books, the Japanese-Brazilian only made 17 appearances for Santos, but he did this in one of them and, 40-odd years later, sold a load of bootleg copies of the footage from that game at a local market.

Respect it.

This clip is from 1968. Lovely backheel finish from Toninho there, too.

Weird Rainbow Flick: Neymar Jr.

In our head, a pleasing-to-the-eye traditional rainbow flick is rolled up the back of one heel/calf, then the airborne ball is kicked over your own head, and the head of the opposition, from behind, by your other heel.

Neymar’s got a different thing going on. Sort of flicks both legs up behind him at the same time. Less fluid to look at but equally as effective in a bind, or, as is often the case, when you just want to take the p*ss.

Elastico aka Flip-Flap aka Akka: Rivelino

In Northeast English slang, gannen akka means to go absolutely mental. Which is fitting, because that’s how Brazilians must have reacted when they first saw Rivelino do this.

In a World Cup Final, too. You cheeky bastard, Rivelino. You cheeky little bastard.

The Maradona Turn: Diego Armando Maradona

Your age can be determined by whether you more closely associate this skill with Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, or the right analogue stick of an Xbox controller. Maradona did it first, and he was very good at it.

The Cruyff Turn: Johann Cruyff

The confusion on the Swedish defender’s face here is exquisite. He has literally no idea where the ball is. Like a child watching a magician make their pocket money disappear. A dog looking for the stick you pretended to throw.

Dunno why he bothers chasing Johann. He’s long gone, mate. Just sub yourself off. Settle down somewhere nice and make a comfortable life for yourself until death comes a-calling.

The Beardsley Shimmy: Peter Beardsley

Probably the most underrated footballer of all time. Pedro had this unique trick where he’d lift one leg up as if to accelerate away, then swivel his hips in a way that would put most of us out of action for 18 months, and shuffle away, as if he was never there. Unique.

The McGeady Spin: Aiden McGeady

Kind of a Cruyff Turn combo incorporating a little outside-of-the-foot push away after the initial turn. McGeady’s character famously couldn’t do his own skill on FIFA, and that is unforgiveable. Should’ve been the first thing on EA’s checklist.

The Seal Dribble: Kerlon

This one just seems a bit weird when you first encounter it but, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. It’s quite difficult to defend against somebody juggling the ball on their head without fouling them.

Kerlon might’ve been a genius.

Or he might have just really loved seals. Idolised that grey geezer off Pingu. Aye, that’s probably what it was.

The Puskas ‘V’ Move: Ferenc Puskas

Skip to 1:53 in this clip to see what we’re talking about. Seems rudimentary these days but, once upon a time, this was new and bamboozled defenders. There’s a reason we name the annual best goal award after this man.

The Okocha Combo: Jay-Jay Okocha

A stud-roll followed by a reverse stepover. That’s how we’d describe the Okocha Combo. We miss watching Jay-Jay play so much. They did him dirty. He was so good, they should have named him five times. Should’ve been Jay-Jay-Jay-Jay-Jay Okocha.

La Cuauhteminha: Cuauhtemoc Blanco

just funny, this one. There’s no need for it. Could just as easily chip the ball through the defenders as trap it between your feet and hop through like you’re in a sack race.

Fun fact: Blanco only missed two penalties in his career, and he took 73 of them.

The Aurelio: Rodrigo Taddei

We’d have our legs in a knot a sailor couldn’t fathom if we tried this. ACL wrapped around our ankles somewhere. Felt a bit sick typing that, actually. Sorry.

The Mule Kick: Gianfranco Zola

This was just an excuse to post this one and watch it on loop again for a while. Probably our (and when we say ‘our’ we mean Andrew) favourite ever goal. Just so aesthetically pleasing. Want to shake this goal’s hand and give it a big kiss. Some boy, was Franco Zola.

The Biava – Giuseppe Biava

A flying, spinning scorpion kick. Difficult to say what was going through Giuseppe’s mind when he pulled this off. Takes a special kind of mind to see a ball flying toward it in the penalty area and, in a split second, think, “I’m going to aerially corkscrew my body in a way that allows to backheel this into the goal behind my own cranium.”

Study Biava’s brain when he dies.

The je ne c’est what the f*ck: Laurent Robert

Shape for a bicycle kick, twist, scorpion that motherf*cker. Why wouldn’t ya? Keeper must have shut down like Windows ’98. Power down. Reality gone all bendy.

READ NEXT: Throwback: Teenage Messi shows off outrageous skills with Ronaldinho

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every Brazilian to score 10+ Champions League goals?