9 famous wondergoals your nan could have scored from Ben Afra to Yeboah
Some wondergoals are almost impossible to replicate, seeming to defy the laws of physics. Others less so.
What makes a goal great? The recipe seems to be a mix of technical skill, distance from goal and ideally some contextual importance. (Can a friendly produce wondergoals? Arguably not.)
In more general terms, great goals are often marked by their difficulty.
When Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo execute a perfect bicycle kick, you think to yourself: only they could do that.
And when Lionel Messi glides past about 47 Sporting Gijon players before slotting the ball into the net, you get a similar feeling.
But just how significant is the difficulty factor when evaluating a wondergoal?
Sure, you sit up and take note when Roberto Carlos bends the rules of physics. But are bent physics part of the criteria? Can’t a Sunday League goal be as good as a World Cup goal?
Using these nine famous strikes as evidence, I’d say they can.
In fact, sometimes a goal is better when you think, “Yeah, but my nan would have scored that.”
1. George Weah
AC Milan vs Verona, 1996
This goal, widely considered as George Weah’s finest, was so good it allowed the forward to become the 25th President of Liberia.
In hindsight, however… it’s a bit shit, no?
First, let’s look at this bit of genuine twinkle-toed magic in a different match against Roma. Weah times his run perfectly, then moves the ball between his feet in a fraction of a second.
Most people on the planet can’t do that.
But then here’s the widely beloved wondergoal:
Yes, Weah runs from his own penalty area. That’s pretty good. But over the length of the pitch he only has to beat… two players.
The first of those players actually tackles him. And the second is basically a ghost.
Real Zaragoza vs Arsenal, 1995
Factually described by this YouTube account as “impossible”, Nayim’s cup-winning, Seaman-sitting wondergoal is the stuff of legend.
I love it because it’s the only iconic wondergoal where the scorer aims neither left, right nor centre, but simply “up”.
It’s very far out, yes, but with two (!) bounces to set himself, he’s not doing anything revolutionary — apart from literally spinning himself around through the sheer effort of it.
3. Steven Whittaker
Rangers vs Sporting, 2008
Perhaps it’s an empathy thing.
When Wayne Rooney scores a goal from his own half, it’s hard to imagine what that feels like. Most people will never hit a ball that sweetly — let alone complete a Premier League hat-trick.
But when Steven Whittaker trundles the length of the pitch to break Sporting hearts, you sort of feel yourself in his boots. Every cautious shimmy, every tentative prod of the ball feels… familiar.
It’s you nicking the ball off Abel Ferreira. It’s you ignoring Daniel Cousin and securing a famous victory for your club.
This was a wondergoal for the people.
4. Hal Robson-Kanu
Wales vs Belgium, 2016
Pound for pound, Hal Robson-Kanu’s Cruyff moment is probably the most delightful goal ever scored.
But it’s not down to technical brilliance as much as nerve and quick thinking — traits not confined to football’s elite.
Just watch Marouane Fellaini, confidently (and reasonably?) expecting Robson-Kanu to shin the ball out of the penalty area.
Would your nan have pulled it off? Probably not. But a lot of half-decent forwards would have.
5. Luis Suarez
Liverpool vs Norwich, 2013
Luis Suarez scored some unforgettable goals for Liverpool. And look, here are 10 of them:
But let’s say, for a laugh, that you had to replicate one of these goals to save your life.
Which would you attempt? Surely not the deft chip against Spurs. And you’d have a bloody hard time with that nutmeg/curler against Stoke.
The easiest goal here — despite its sheer beauty — is goal #1. A kind bounce? John Ruddy in net? Peanuts.
6. Tony Yeboah
Leeds vs Wimbledon, 1995
It might be a stretch to say your nan could kick the ball as hard as any human being has ever kicked a football.
I get that.
But there’s something about the ball accidentally bouncing off Yeboah’s knee that makes this absolute blinder a bit more… approachable? A bit more human?
Furthermore, your nan wears a turtleneck.
7. Riley McGree
Newcastle Jets vs Melbourne City, 2018
A Puskas Award nominee from 2018, this Giroud/Mkhitaryan knockoff is as sweet as a Werther’s Original.
The one-two is good. The finish is audacious. But you can’t help thinking that literally anyone would have randomly jerked their foot behind them in exactly the same way.
Or maybe it’s the best goal ever scored. Hard to say.
8. Matt Taylor
Portsmouth vs Sunderland, 2005
Former Portsmouth wing-back Matt Taylor scored two of the most memorable long-range goals of the 2000s.
One, a pure volley against Everton, was a sublime bit of a technique. Neither you nor your nan could have scored it.
The other, equally fun to watch, was arguably less challenging.
One bounce… a second bounce… a third bounce?! Honestly, it was harder to miss.
9. Hatem Ben Arfa
Newcastle vs Bolton, 2012
Hatem Ben Arfa scored a couple of solo wondergoals for Newcastle, and they should re-sign him as soon as humanly possible. Yes, even at 36.
But let’s talk about this Bolton one.
Yes, the first touch should be put in a museum so our ancestors can see the peak of human endeavour this century. And yes, the finish shows incredible composure.
The 50 yards in between, though? Just jogging in a straight line, isn’t it?
🔥 The Turn
🏃♂️ The Run
⚽️ The Finish
— ToonArmy (@toonarmy_com) April 9, 2020
By Benedict O’Neill