With the 2022 World Cup Finals coming up at the end of the year, and England amongst the favourites with bet365 Sport to land the trophy, I thought it might be nice to bring you a list of the top ten World Cup goals of all time.

Now, how do you quantify a goal as being great? Of course, if it is spectacular, then it is always going to have many people claiming it is one of the very best but there are, I believe, other factors to consider.

I think the quality of opponents needs to be considered, as does the stage of the competition in which the goal was scored and the context of the goal.

Perhaps more controversially, I think the difficulty factor of the goal must also be a prime consideration and this may well be the thing that fans differ most widely on.

Diego Maradona’s amazing dribble and goal against England in the 1986 Mexico World Cup tends to come out on top of these lists, but while I appreciate how brilliant this goal is, and a clear show of Maradona’s undeniable genius, it does not come top of my list.

The sole reason being, I have seen many goals where players have dribbled from their own half to score. Some of the goals on my list I have never seen anything similar to them in World Cup games since.

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So let’s take a look at my top ten and for this list we will go in reverse order.

World Cup Top Ten Greatest Goals

  1. Michael Owen (England v Argentina – 1998)

England’s best ever World Cup goal came from an 18-year old youngster Michael Owen, who took a pass from David Beckham, sprinted past his marker Chamot, swerved past Ayala and then slammed the ball into the top corner of the net to put England 2-1 up in the game.

Argentina levelled on half time with a well taken free kick and then after David Beckham was sent off, the Argentineans triumphed on penalties in one of the most dramatic and memorable England World Cup games of the era.

  1. Denis Bergkamp (Netherlands v Argentina – 1998)

Argentina may have come through against England but they were put to the sword in the very next game by a last-minute wonder goal from Dutch ace Denis Bergkamp. With the game level in the final minute, Frank De Boer got the ball and played a long raking pass over the Argentinean defence.

Denis Bergkamp looked like he couldn’t do much with the pass but showed exquisite control to bring the ball down, turn inside his defender and then half volley the ball into the net with the outside of his boot. The Dutch commentators commentary on the goal also makes it that little bit extra special.

  1. Esteban Cambiasso (Argentina v Serbia – 2006)

One of the best team goals scored in any era of football. This Argentinean goal saw every player on the team involved in a series of outstanding passing movements before they worked the ball into the box for Crespo to back heel and Cambiasso to apply the finish.

As team goals go at the highest level, they do not come much better than this.

  1. Eder (Brazil v USSR – 1982)

The 1982 Brazil team are one of the best teams never to win the World Cup, but they started the 1982 tournament slowly against Russia and trailed to a goal from Bal late into the game.

Skipper Socrates hammered home a fantastic equaliser and then a few minutes later the sublime left winger Eder, who could strike the ball harder than any player I’ve ever seen received the ball outside the box, flicked it up and then volleyed it past Dasaev to put Brazil in front. A magnificent goal that put this superb team of Zico, Falcao, Junior, Cerezo, Socrates and of course Eder on the way.

  1. Archie Gemmill (Scotland v Netherlands – 1978)

Scotland needed an unlikely 3-goal victory over Holland to qualify for the next stage of the 1978 World Cup and while they fell just short, they did land a win over the beaten finalists and in the process, Archie Gemmill scored a goal that lives on in Scottish football legend.

Receiving the ball on the right, he jinked his way past three Netherlands defenders, nutmegging the last before clipping a beautiful chipped finish over the goalkeeper for the best goal ever scored by a British player at a World Cup Finals.

  1. Diego Maradona (Argentina v Belgium – 1986)

The first of two entries on this list in the top five for Maradona came in the World Cup Semi Final against Belgium. Fresh from his two goals against England (more on the second one of those later in the list), Maradona was required to be the man again against a tough Belgian side.

Once again, the little genius answered the call, scoring a beautiful opening goal with a flick of his left boot before adding a sublime second where he took on the Belgian defence single-handedly before slamming the ball home to earn Argentina a World Cup Finals spot, which they would go on to win against West Germany.

Both goals are included in the video above, but it is the second one that makes this list.

  1. Carlos Alberto (Brazil v Italy – 1970)

The best team goal scored at the World Cup, just pipping Esteban Cambiasso’s effort from above in the list. This famous goal starts with Clodoaldo leading the tired Italians on a merry jig on the halfway line before lays the ball to Rivelino.

He finds Jairzinho on the left wing and he cuts inside prodding the ball to Pele who waits an instant for Carlos Alberto to come haring forward from right back. A gentle pass and the full back smacks the ball first time into the bottom corner to confirm the World Cup win.

  1. Arie Haan (Netherlands v Italy – 1978)

Arie Haan scored two incredible long-distance goals at the 1978 World Cup, one against Germany and there was also this one against Italy, which looks like it was hit from half a mile away.

It is only when you see the different angles of this goal that you realise just how much it swerved and moved in the air to deceive the best goalkeeper in the world at that time, Dino Zoff.

The fact it flies in off the post also gives it a rather nice finishing flourish too.

  1. Diego Maradona (Argentina v England – 1986)

This goal has to be in the list and I’ve put it second because it is the clearest example of Diego Maradona’s football genius. This game showcased his personality perfectly, the first goal a dubious handball that cheated the game, then this second, a thing of such beauty and brilliance that it was clear that Maradona was a football genius.

Admittedly, as an England fan, I do think that Peter Reid should have hacked him down on the halfway lane, or Terry Fenwich should have rugby tackled him, but with more objective glasses on, that would have been a shame as this goal is close to art.

For most people, this is number one, but for me, there’s one goal that just pips it.

  1. Nelinho (Brazil v Italy – 1978)

For me, this is the greatest goal I have ever seen scored in a World Cup Finals because of two things. Firstly, it’s a rarity. I have never seen a goal that is comparable with this that has been hit using the most difficult of skills (the outside of the right foot) and from such an acute angle and with so much swerve. The difficulty level of this goal is off the charts.

Secondly, this is not a third-rate country Nelinho scored against, it was against Italy and arguably the greatest defence and goalkeeper of that time (Italy & Dino Zoff).

It also played a key role in Brazil finishing 3rd in the tournament.

So what do you think? What goals would make your top ten from World Cup Final Tournaments past?

More Top 10 Lists

Check out out our other Top 10 Lists from Ian John:

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