Did he mean it? Should Seaman have saved it? Does it matter? Brazil cut short England’s stay at the 2002 tournament thanks to this effort from a young Ronaldinho in his audacious pomp. He was the jewel in the crown of that iconic team, which also featured the likes of Cafu, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and a very young Kaka (who all but 25 minutes). Debate may rage over this goal for many years, but there was no doubting the talent of that team, who went on to win the competition and proved worthy winners.
28. Saeed Al-Owairan, Saudi Arabia v Belgium, 1994
If there’s one word that sums up this solo effort from Saeed Al Owairan, it’s persistence. Back in 1994, Saudi Arabia were making their debut appearance in the World Cup and were massive underdogs with Belgium having reached the semi-finals in 1986. Al-Owairan picked up the ball five minutes into their third group game and carried it 70 yards. He slotted it past the Belgian keeper to earn a 1-0 and earn the nickname ‘Maradona of the Arabs’ in his home country.
Saeed Al Owairan Saudi Arabia vs Belgium 1-0 First Round World Cup 1994 Dutch commentarywww.youtube.com
27. Geoff Hurst, England v West Germany, 1966
Geoff Hurst bagged his hat trick with this incredible finish right at the death in the 1966 final, flashing a left boot at a bobbling ball and unleashing a thunderous drive past the keeper. The win might have been secured minutes before, but we’d argue this was just as important in the context of the game. If things had stayed at 3-2, the controversy about whether or not the third goal had crossed the line would have been a bigger talking point than it is today, and England fans would never have heard the end of it.
Sir Geoff Hurst, third goal, World cup Final 1966. They think it's all over...www.youtube.com
26. Josimar, Brazil v Poland, 1986
Any goal scored from as tight an angle as Josimar’s against Poland back in 1986 is going to be pretty spectacular, and we honestly believe this effort doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. After a free kick breaks down, the Brazilian team recycles the ball quickly and the ball comes out to Josimar. There, he gets his head down to beat two men, before driving to the byline and blasting it home. A superb effort.
25. Siphiwe Tshabalala, South Africa v Mexico, 2010
Yes, this goal from the opening game of the 2010 tournament is fantastic. Yes, the ball through for Siphiwe Tshabalala was perfectly weighted and the finish was superb, but for us this goal is improved inexorably by the commentary from Peter Drury. “Goal for South Africa! Goal for all Africa!” he screams after the net ripples, showing just how important great commentary can be when it comes to capturing brilliant World Cup moments. The tournament might have been a little drab (and the vuvuzelas a mistake), but there was so much promise here right at the start of it.
He’s been a cult figure in the Premier League for years, but Australia’s talisman Tim Cahill produced a real moment of inspiration on the biggest stage of them all during the 2014 tournament. A ball over the defence looked to be dropping to safety, but Cahill followed it through the air, showcased perfect technique and unleashed the purest of volleys past Jasper Cillessen. The ball was close to the keeper, but it so sweetly struck there was little anyone could have done to stop it. The game ended 3-2 to the Dutch and marked one of the best games in the whole tournament.
With long-distance screamers like this one from Arie Haan, it’s not the technique required to pull them off that’s impressive, so much as the confidence to attempt them in the first place. This beauty from Haan seems to hang in the air for an age before it’s past the keeper, helping to secure the Netherlands’ place in the 1978 final. As a side note, Haan developed a reputation for long-distance goals during his career, and while he was only capped a total of 35 games for his country, he was on the losing side for two World Cup finals.
ARIE HAAN GOAL - NETHERLANDS V ITALY - WORLD CUP 1978 - 21ST JUNE - ARGENTINAwww.youtube.com
22. Nelinho, Brazil v Italy,1978
Sometimes, you just can’t beat an outside of the foot belter from distance. There’s no doubt at all that Nelinho meant to shape this one away from the keeper with this one, and while there are dozens of fantastic Brazilian goals from down the years in World Cups, this is one of the very, very best.
If the Harlem Globetrotters played football, they’d do it like this. The ball comes out from a Uruguayan corner, the holding player flips it up in the air a few times, before popping it up to Dario Rodriguez, who thumps it home first time. It’s an absolutely ridiculous goal, and there’s something incredibly pleasing about the fact the ball doesn’t touch the floor from the corner, until it’s nestled in the onion bag a few moments later. Wonderful stuff.
Dario Rodriquez Uruguay vs Denmark 1-1 First Round World Cup 2002 Dutch commentarywww.youtube.com
20. Fabio Quagliarella, Italy v Slovakia, 2010
Italian impudence of the highest order. Fabio Quagliarella (what a player he was, by the way) picked his spot and served up a majestic chip against Slovakia back in 2010. The talented Slovakia team, featuring the likes of Marek Hamsik, Martin Skrtel, Robert Vittek and unused substitute Vladimir Weiss, ended up winning 3-2 but this is one effort that will remain long in the memory.