Dennis Bergkamp scored so many great goals he could legitimately file a trademark application for Wonder Strike ™. Everyone has a favourite from the Dutch master, but for us there’s no question which one sits top of the pile: His late-winner for Holland against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup quarter-final.
The Arsenal legend is in agreement. “The goal against Argentina is my top goal,” he said. “To score like that, in my style, on that stage. I love nice football but it has to mean something, and that got us to the World Cup semi-finals.”
With the game locked at 1-1 and heading for extra-time, Frank de Boer carried the ball out from the back. As he approached the centre circle, galloping down the left channel, he looked up and saw Bergkamp making a run to the back post.
“First, there’s eye contact with Frank de Boer – he’s going to give the ball. Then: sprint away, get six yards away from the defender,” recalled the Ajax icon.
That defender was Roberto Ayala, who could be forgiven for thinking Bergkamp would struggle to bring the ball down from over his shoulder, but the Iceman lived up to his moniker. With his outstretched right leg he killed the ball dead, triggering a sense of panic in Ayala who scrambled across the penalty box to extinguish the threat.
As he lunged across, Bergkamp used his second touch to cut inside and open up a clear sight of goal.
Argentina goalkeeper Carlos Roa raced out to meet the striker, but could nothing to stop Bergkamp’s exquisite finish with the outside of his right boot.
“You give absolutely everything, like your life is leading up to this moment. You never play the perfect game. But the moment itself was, I think, perfect,” said Bergkamp.
It’s been almost 22 years since Roberto Carlos defied the laws of physics, but no matter how many times you watch this strike from the Brazilian it still makes absolutely no logical sense.
Playing France in Le Tournoi – a World Cup warm-up tournament – the Selecao were pushing to break the deadlock when they won a free-kick 40 yards from goal.
Carlos placed the ball down and started walking backwards until he stepped inside the centre circle. The wall lined up like a set of helpless stumps preparing for the impact of a fast bowler’s wood-shattering delivery.
The Real Madrid legend took off as he walloped the ball with this left boot, seemingly sending his shot on a trajectory into the stands.
“I’ll always remember the advertising behind the goal,” said Carlos. “I was aiming for the ‘A’ in La Poste, but when I hit the shot it was miles away from that – going towards a different advert! The ball boy was diving out of the way of the shot, too. He should have had more confidence in me!”
As the ball arcs around the wrong side of the French wall, it still looks like it’s heading out for a goal kick until it makes an improbable change of direction, swerving inside Fabien Barthez’s left-hand post.
The goalkeeper was left rooted to the spot, completely dumbfounded by the Brazilian’s sensational strike.
“Goals like that come around only once in your career,” said former Inter Milan left-back. “I hit a few like that in training, with and without a wall, but never with as much swerve and spin. It was a beautiful goal – unforgettable.”
There are individual goals and then there’s George Weah’s box-to-box blockbuster for AC Milan. On the opening day of the 1996/97 Serie A season, the Rossoneri were beating Verona 2-1 at the San Siro.
With five minutes to play the visitors won a corner. This was their chance to nick a late point.
Unfortunately, the delivery was overhit, dropping at Weah’s feet inside the penalty box. Instead of clearing his lines and giving his side time to breath and reset, Weah brought the ball under control and set off.
“When I got the ball I could see I was far from their goal. But I am a striker, so decided to try and score. Perhaps it was a crazy goal, but that’s fine by me,” recalled the former Paris Saint-Germain forward.
With Verona committing men forward at the corner and Weah moving at the speed of an Olympic sprinter the Liberian reached the halfway line unopposed.
As he entered the opposition’s half, two defenders tried to squash him like a junkyard car crusher, but Weah slipped between the pair, leaving them to collide with one another.
Spinning clear of the impact, the 1995 Ballon d’Dor winner continued his surge. Another defender rushed across to try and stop Weah, but he was quickly left scorched by the striker’s afterburners.
A group of Verona players chased him like a pack of children pursuing a plastic football in the playground, but there was no catching him as he breached the Verona box.
The former World Player of the Year kept this cool to slot past the advancing goalkeeper and complete his remarkable counter-attack. In 14 seconds, Weah had raced the length of the pitch and sealed victory for his team with one of the greatest individual goals of all-time.
“That goal had everything: technique, speed and precision; and every single one of my manoeuvres in the build-up was deliberate,” reminisced the future president of Liberia.
Image Copyright: Roberto Carlos ©Садовников Дмитрий & http://dailypost.ng/2018/03/14/roberto-carlos-visit-nigeria/, George Weah ©en.wikipedia.org, Dennis Bergkamp ©Rob Croes.