9 of the Best Overhead Kicks in Football History

Goals are what we crave in football. They determine results (duh), but they’re also what the entire point of playing football is. Sure, sometimes grinding out a 0-0 may be the plan of action, but ultimately, the whole concept revolves around trying to put the ball in the back of the net more often than the other team.

So while any goal will do in most cases, when someone manages to smash the ball in the goalhole spectacularly, memorably or downright super-humanly, we all stand up and take note.

Two years ago today we were treated to such an occasion, when ?Cristiano Ronaldo put Juventus to the sword with a neat little trick known as an ‘overhead kick’. 

These are always special occurrences. Why? Mainly because it doesn’t happen all too often, but mostly because it is the pinnacle of improvisation and sets the goalscorer apart from the norm. Even in a playing field containing the top 0.000000001% of footballers, they manage to go above and beyond; in some cases, above and beyond the bloke stood next to them.

Alas, let us herald the finest instances of such ability by flicking through the very best overhead kicks we’ve been treated to over the years and compiling them all into one healthy, absorbing list. You’re most welcome.

Rivaldo vs Valencia – 2001

Hat-tricks are another way of setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack, ‘Yeah, sure, you can score a goal, but i can score three in one game‘. Well, how about melding a hat-trick together with a ridiculously special overhead kick? Does that whet your appetite? I should bloody well hope it does.

?Barcelona were the beneficiaries of those particular stars aligning, when Rivaldo scored his third goal of an engrossing clash with Valencia back in 2001. The control, technique and finish were glorious, but even more crucially, it secured Barça a Champions League spot in La Liga that season.

Ronaldinho vs Villarreal – 2006


Sticking with the Barcelona theme, let’s move on to another Brazilian legend of the club. We all know full well just how technically gifted those from this particular part of South America are, but seeing that ability in motion is truly a sight to behold.

Villarreal were the unfortunate recipients on this occasion, as Ronaldinho added even more flair to an already intrinsically superb piece of skill. Chesting the ball in the box, the Barça man twisted his body as if his bones were made of Play-Doh, before acrobatically firing home with his right foot – even if it looked for all the world like he’d use his left. Heck knows how, but I’m sure he’ll be sharing his secrets in his cosy prison cell right now.

Manuel Negrete vs Puebla – 1984

Manuel Negrete

I don’t even care who crossed the ball in for Negrete for this goal, he deserves the assist himself (not that this is in anyway possible).

The most perfect of chest control sees the ball float perfectly vertical, and with the defender closing him down in the box, he casually lifts it over him with his left, then onto his head, and then onto his left foot. The rest, as they say, is history. Watch it ?here.

Philippe Mexes vs Anderlecht – 2012

Philippe Mexes

Sometimes, an overhead kick is a last resort. By that I mean you’ve got nobody to pass to, no way of controlling the ball in time, and you see your name littered across the back pages. So, often, it’s a case of ‘why the f**k not?’

Philippe Mexes had one of those moments in 2012. The central defender controlled a rubbish free kick on his chest while running away from goal and as seemingly any other option would appear more logical, instead he opted to produce and audacious overhead kick. It’s a good thing he did to, because it was a magnificent piece of improvisation that was so perfectly executed it hurts to even think about.

Wayne Rooney vs Manchester City – 2011

Manchester United's English striker Wayn

It’s worth noting that before this season, ?Wayne Rooney had some criticism directed his way for supposedly being overweight. So, I ask you, how does an overweight footballer leap into the air with outstanding agility and score one of the ?Premier League’s greatest ever goals from a cross that was deflected?

Not only is the technique and application stupendous, he did so in a Manchester derby. Few words do the goal justice, and only the most cynical of people try to belittle it by stating he scored it with his shin. Two things: firstly, shut up, and secondly, shut up.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs England – 2012

Has anything like this ever been done before? Furthermore, will anything like this ever be done again? Answers: yes(ish) and no. I mean come on, how ridiculously good do you have to be to score a 30-yard overhead kick in an international fixture? 

Place all the question marks you want on Joe Hart or the defending, but seriously, Zlatan, with instinct and audacity, performed a breathtaking overhead kick with Hart in no man’s land that combined both power and accuracy. It’s utterly sublime and, sometimes, you just need to sit back and admire magnificence. Oh, and he scored three more goals that day, just because.

Trevor Sinclair vs Barnsley – 1997

With great dreadlocks come great power…apparently.

Trevor Sinclair certainly made a case for the above to be true, demonstrating outstanding acrobatics against Barnsley in 1997. An aimless high cross looks like causing no danger, but Sinclair took matters into his own hands with a ludicrously high jump in which he angles a perfect overhead kick beyond the helpless goalkeeper.

The power he generated was unstoppable, and judging on his face after he scored, he knew that too.

Mauro Bressan vs Barcelona – 1999

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Barcelona needed to be on the end of something spectacular, didn’t they? On this occasion, it was the brilliance of Fiorentina’s Mauro Bressan that did the damage.

Some messy build up play saw the ball bounce invitingly for Bressan (well, not really, but to him it was) 30 yards from goal and in another case of ‘why not’ he extended hid body up into the air, before delivering the most fluid, natural looking overhead kick you’ll likely ever see. Francesc Arnau was utterly helpless in net, and he got a smack from the post for his troubles.

Gareth Bale vs Liverpool – 2018

We’ve already gone through some outrageous goals. And while technically speaking you can make and argument for any of the strikes in this list, ?Gareth Bale produced one of the all-time greats in a Champions League final.

The grandeur of the occasion and considering what was at stake, to do what Bale did in Kiev defies belief. It may very well be the greatest Champions League goal of all time for that reason alone. No point really dissecting it too much, just savour every moment of its brilliance. From the readjustment of his body and feet to the technique itself, enjoy to your heart’s content.

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