The Ten Best Overhead Kick Goals In History

By Ian John
May 11, 2023

Whether you call it an overhead kick, a scissor kick, bicycle kick, an over the shoulder volley, or whatever, there is no doubt the sight of a perfectly executed overhead kick is one of the most difficult and amazing skills in the game of football.

And that goes doubly so when the net result of that overhead kick is a goal.

For the record, any overhead kick is a special goal, but even amongst this rarefied air, there are some goals of this type that are so good, so difficult and so clever that they are almost unique in their brilliance.

Bet365 Sport may not offer odds on the goal of the season competitions, but we are sure that this ten overhead kick goals would have been pretty near the top of every list, or right at the very top, in the year that the goal was scored.

But before we endeavour to bring you details, and hopefully video clips, of the ten best bicycle kick goals, let’s first explain exactly what it is, and why it is so special.

What is a bicycle kick / overhead kick?

A bicycle kick, or overhead kick, is a move a player can make in football when the ball is in the air, usually at above head height and behind where the player wants to send the ball.

The action usually takes the form of the player jumping up in the air with his back to the intended direction he wants to kick the ball, so for example, if the player wanted to shoot at goal, he would have his back to the goal he wants to score in.

Once in the air, the player then leans backwards, elevating their feet into the air and while at or close to horizontal in the air, the player then kicks the ball back over their head (hence overhead kick) towards their target.

The player then lands on the turf and can turn to look over their shoulder to see how their effort at a bicycle kick turned out!

The move is spectacular and extremely difficult to pull off successfully, especially when the player has not just set themselves up for the overhead kick. It is this difficulty, and the fact that it can easily go wrong, leaving a player open to ridicule from fans, that makes these goals so spectacular.

Incidentally, the kick is also known as a bicycle kick from the supposed resemblance of the kick to riding a bicycle in the air when kicking the ball.

  • Not Included

For clarity, I am not including any of these shots that are not genuinely over the head. Side volley shots, such as Mark Hughes famous goal for Wales against Spain, or Manuel Negrete’s for Mexico against Bulgaria are brilliant, but not, in my view, a proper overhead kick.

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Top Ten Overhead Kick Goals In History

1.Marco Van Basten (for Ajax v Den Bosch – 1986)

If there exists a depiction of the truly perfect overhead kick, then for me it is this sublime effort from the brilliant Dutch striker Marco Van Basten, when he was playing for Ajax against Den Bosch in the Dutch League.

Perhaps more famous for his exploits with Milan and the Netherlands national team, it was goals of the quality of this strike that saw Van Basten explode onto the scene in the mid-80s.

Unfortunately, his career was derailed by a terrible ankle injury that saw him less effective in his last few seasons and led to him making an early retirement from the game aged just 30 (after two years out injured).

Even so, no player has ever scored a more perfect overhead kick than this one, with it going in off the post making it even more special.

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2.Gareth Bale (for Real Madrid v Liverpool – 2018)

If you are going to score an incredible overhead kick goal, then doing so in the Champions League Final is a good way to get it recognised.

In the 2017/18 final, Real Madrid had taken the lead when Loris Karius threw the ball against Karim Benzema with it bouncing into the empty net. Liverpool levelled early in the second half through Mane and the game looked to be going to be a close affair once again.

Enter Gareth Bale, on as a sub who got onto a cross from Toni Kroos and sent a fantastic dipping overhead kick past Karis and into the net.

Bale completed the scoring later on in the game when Karius spilled his swerving shot into the net to hand Real the win.

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3. Wayne Rooney (for Manchester United v Manchester City – 2011)

Already hailed as one of the greatest talents of his generation, Wayne Rooney put a seal on his greatness at Manchester United with one of the most impressive goals the famous derby with Manchester City has seen.

Late in the game with the team’s all square, United winger Nani lofted a hopeful cross into the box.

The ball was moving behind Rooney and at shoulder height allowing the England man to leap up and connect perfectly with the overhead kick which gave Joe Hart absolutely no chance.

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4.Trevor Sinclair (for Queens Park Rangers v Barnsley – 1997)

Queens Park Rangers drew Barnsley in the FA Cup in 1997 and it was a somewhat modest setting for one of the most incredible overhead kick goals you will see.

QPR’s winger Trevor Sinclair was in the centre of the ‘D’ of the penalty box when a long, high cross was looped in from the eright. The winger leapt into the air and executed an outstanding overhead kick which screamed into the net from fully 18-yards.

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5.Rivaldo (for Barcelona v Valencia – 2001)

Barcelona went into their final game of the 2000/01 season needing to beat Valencia in order to finish in a Champions League space.

What followed was one of the best individual performances, and hat-tricks, in history from their Brazilian superstar, Rivaldo.

The Brazilian fired home a long range free-kick to start the scoring, but Valencia levelled the game. Then late in the first half Rivaldo fired home another shot from outside the box to put Barcelona 2-1 in front.

Once again, Valencia fought back and late in the game, it appeared that the visitors would get the draw they needed to secure their sport in the Champions League.

But late in the game, with hope running out for Barcelona, Rivaldo controlled Frank de Boer’s chip on his chest before sending a stunning overhead kick from the edge of the box past the Valencia keeper and into the net. All three goals are well worth watching in the clip below.

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6. Cristiano Ronaldo (for Real Madrid v Juventus – 2018)

Cristiano Ronaldo was still a Real Madrid player when he produced a moment of absolute magic in the Champions League quarter final first leg.

After a scramble in the goalmouth the ball came out to the Juventus right back who turned in the box and played a hopeful cross into the area.

Ronaldo was there and leapt up gracefully before delivering a stunning overhead kick past Buffon and into the net to put Real Madrid 2-0 up on the night.

The goal was so good that many of Juventus own fans stood and applauded what the player had achieved.

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7. Enzo Francescoli (for River Plate v Poland – 1988)

In 1988, the Polish national team was invited to participate in the annual Copa de Oro Mar Del Plata pre-season tournament where they faced Argentinean giants River Plate.

Late in the game, with the scores tied, a long hopeful ball was hit into the box which saw a player from each team contest the header, which saw the ball loop back towards the edge of the penalty box.

Enzo Francescoli, a Uruguayan playing for River Plate had ambled unmarked into the box but the header was falling behind him.

In one of the greatest pieces of skill you will see on a football field, in one movement, Francescoli chested the ball back into the air and then immediately launched into an overhead kick that sent the ball past the bemused Polish keeper.

But for the fact this only happened in a pre-season tournament, this would have likely been number 2 on my list if it had happened in a competitive game. That’s how difficult this kind of skill is to pull off.

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8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (for Sweden v England – 2013)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored arguably the most difficult overhead kick in terms of distance for Sweden against England in 2013.

Late in the game, with the Swedes leading 3-2 (Ibrahimovic scoring all of the three Swedish goals), a long ball was punted forward leading to England keeper Joe Hart coming out of his penalty area to try and head it clear.

Hart could only head the ball up into the air and as it dropped Ibrahimovic launched into an overhead kick to send the ball back towards the empty England goal, and neither of the two England defenders chasing back could stop the ball finding the net.

A special, stunning goal and worthy of giving any team a win.

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9. Philip Mexes (for AC Milan v Anderlecht – 2012)

Frenchman Philip Mexes had a habit for scoring spectacular goals, but this incredible overhead kick from outside the penalty box in the Champions League Group Stages in 2013 needs to be seen to be believed.

From a free kick the Frenchman controlled the ball up in the air and away from goal before launching into a stunning overhead kick which left the opposition goalkeeper rooted to his line and unable to do a thing.

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10. Emre Can (for Liverpool v Watford 2018)

With Liverpool chasing Manchester City hard in the Premier League title race, the Reds travelled to Watford in need of a win. Approaching half time, the game remained goalless as Lucas Leiva played a hopeful ball into the Watford box.

Midfielder Emre Can had darted forward into the space and then launched into a stunning overhead kick on the move, catching the ball perfectly and sending it arrowing into the corner of the net.

A stunning goal for a player who earned a move to Juventus on the back of that and other solid performances for the Reds.

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Of course, there are lots of great goals of this type that didn’t quite make it into this list, so for those, we give you this final video to enjoy!

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