It was a terrible final back in 2014, but the context of this extra-time winner, plus the exquisite touch off the chest and poke home past the keeper has to make this one of the biggest World Cup goals ever scored. There’s something faintly tragic rewatching this goal knowing the road Gotze’s career would take in the years that followed, with a string of injuries blighting his chances of returning to the highest stage. But this is the stuff footballers dream of, and as far as career highlights go it’s hard to beat.
Now, 1998 might have been a tournament to forget for Becks, but this is one of the finest set-piece efforts he scored during his entire career. He did it hundreds of times during his playing days, but we’ll never tire of watching the ball curling inexorably towards the side netting away from the despairing dive of the Colombian keeper here. No one else struck the ball quite like him.
It would be rude not to include a Roger Milla strike in this countdown as he is undoubtedly one of the all-time great World Cup icons and this is probably his most famous goal. At the ripe old age of 38, he leaves two Colombian defenders for dead before battering the ball past another enigmatic talent between the sticks, Rene Higuita. Let's be honest though, you are only gonna watch the goal for Milla's iconic corner flag celebration.
If more players had the confidence to drive forward from deep like Pierre Njanka did back in 1998, the game would be far more interesting. The defender picked up the ball in his own half against Austria and never hesitated. By the time he reached the final third he was absolutely flying and it’s a wonder he could show the control to sit two defenders down before thumping it into the back of the net. A proper World Cup goal to remember.
Njanka makes beautiful goal to Cameroon in the 1-1 tie with Austria in the 1998 World Cupwww.youtube.com
75. Klaus Fischer, West Germany v France, 1982
Great technique was rarely made to look so easy. Germany worked it out wide and sent in a cross floated to the back post against France back in 1982, and the first moment of quality came from the cushioned header back towards Fisher in the middle of the box. There’s a huge amount to do with his back-to-goal, and he takes his time to make great contact and send the ball on its way.
Sometimes, you have to take the simplest route possible. After dropping deep, picking up the ball and failing to thread an intricate pass against the ever-unpredictable Mexico, a peak Carlos Tevez decided to take everything else out of the equation and smash the ball into the onion bag from 30 yards out back in 2010. The goal also gets bonus points for the absolute scenes afterward with Tevez running at full pelt toward his manager Diego Maradona on the touchline.
One of the sweetest strikes of a football you’re ever likely to see. The ball runs across the box and Nacho Fernandez is there to meet it with a pure daisycutter, slamming it home against the post. It contributed to one of the best group games in World Cup history, with Spain and Portugal drawing 3-3 in a match that included a Ronaldo hat-trick and a David De Gea howler.
72. Lionel Messi, Argentina v Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2014
Messi arrived with a bang at the 2014 tournament with this mesmerising effort in the first group game, dispelling his detractors by showing exactly what he’s capable of at international level. He picked up the ball, gathered momentum and showed his trademark close control before taking three defenders out of the game (and sitting one on his backside entirely) before slotting home. A legend of the game at his peak.
LIONEL MESSI AMAZING SOLO GOAL VS BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA FIFA WORLD CUPwww.youtube.com
71. Daniel Amokachi, Nigeria v Greece, 1994
Amokachi took this goal like he was playing a video game, turning sharply to run directly at the goal before hammering it home before anyone could get close to him. It’s the highlight of a career that is full of memorable moments: he also famously ’substituted himself’ into a game at Everton once and he’s rumoured to be one of the members of the Dubious Goals Committee.
The pass from Pirlo for this fantastic effort from 2006 is almost as good as the finish, if not better. If there’s anyone you want the ball to drop to after a scrappy corner on the edge of the box it’s him, and he delays the pass at least three times before picking out Fabio Grosso, who sends the ball into the corner and sends Italy to the World Cup final in the process.