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Soccer has a long and storied history, and with that history comes some of the most spectacular moments in sport. With the main objective of the sport being to put the ball in the back of the net, it's no surprise that some of these spectacular moments come in the form of jaw-dropping goals.
There's a lot that goes into a great goal, the moment, the context of the matchup, and the physical feat of the goal. The best goals may not necessarily be the coolest but could have come in a clutch moment, say a World Cup championship. While there are countless goals to choose from, here are the best soccer goals of all time.
Roberto Carlos' Free Kick
Perhaps the most viewed goal in soccer history, (this specific video has nearly 20 million Youtube views) this list starts off with Roberto Carlos' free kick goal versus France in 1997. This goal from Carlos leaves the goalkeeper still as a statue as he watches the ball sail over his head into the back of the net. You see Carlos take one of the longest running starts I've ever seen and he just delivers a perfect strike that may have defied physics.
Carly Lloyd's Half Field Strike
This goal by Carli Lloyd is one of the greatest goals scored for a variety of reasons. To start, the impressiveness from striking from mid-field alone is incredible. Then to consider that this goal came in the 2015 World Cup Final, a revenge win for the United States over Japan, adds another level of greatness to this goal.
This incredible strike from 2015 Women's World Cup Golden Ball Award Award winner was the icing on the cake of her MVP tournament putting this goal in history as one of the best soccer goals of all time. In the championship game, Lloyd scored a hat trick in the first 15 minutes of play, this goal was her third.
Cristiano Ronaldo's Goal Vs Porto
The debate in recent memory for best player in soccer has gone back and forth between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (more on him later). This goal is often used as evidence for Ronaldo to hold on to the mantra as the best active player in the world. While many different Ronaldo goals could have made the list, Ronaldo himself considers this goal the best he's ever scored.
Diego Maradona is in "A Different Class"
This goal is summed up in three words uttered by the announcer as Diego Maradona raced down the field, "a different class." Maradona, who is definitely in the conversation for the greatest player of all time, just went shredded the entire defense through half the length of the field to score this incredible goal. What's most impressive about this goal is the moment, in the World Cup against England, en route to a World Cup championship and a Golden Ball Award for Maradona.
Lionel Messi Mimics Maradona
Since appearing on the soccer scene, Lionel Messi has drawn comparisons to Maradona. Both are Argentine soccer legends, are in the conversation for the greatest player of all time, and have scored eerily similar legendary goals.
While this entire list could be comprised of Messi's best soccer goals this one takes the cake. Messi got the ball in a similar area to Maradona and he, just like his predecessor, raced down the field, going right through the defense and beating the keeper to poke the ball into the back of the net. What makes this one of the best soccer goals of all time is that Messi did this at the young age of 19.
David Beckham from the Halfway Line
Before he was a pop culture icon for his looks and being married to a spice girl, David Beckham was one of the greatest English soccer players to ever lace up a pair of cleats. This goal made Beckham a legend in English soccer. The goal surprised everyone, with no one expecting this lesser known player would launch a shot from the midline and Beckham delivered a perfect strike into the back of the net.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Wonder Goal vs. England
This goal is just straight up ridiculous and any list of the best soccer goals of all time would be incomplete without it. This goal came in a friendly match against England but was so incredible it still made this list. The ball came bouncing towards England's goalkeeper Joe Hart when he made a very poor header attempt to clear the ball.
Then the magic happened, Zlatan Ibrahimovic tracked the ball, and before the ball could bounce he delivered an incredible bicycle kick, at a difficult angle, and managed to hit the ball with such force that it flew right into the back of the net.
Maxi Rodriguez's Extra Time Goal
This is a goal where the moment elevated the goal into the greatest ever conversation. Extra time in a tied game in the World Cup round of 16. Maxi Rodriguez received a pass from across the field, chested the ball, then volleyed it from the top right corner outside the box into the upper left corner of the goal. This goal was absolutely incredible, and it proved to be the game-winner in this match that sent Argentina into the quarterfinal.
Ronaldinho's Bicycle Kick vs. Villareal
Another soccer legend in the hunt for the title of the greatest of all time only needed one name, Ronaldinho. Ronaldinho's Barcelona team was already up 2-0 in this match with Villareal and had just missed on two consecutive chances.
At that point, enough was enough, the ball was cleared outside the box, right back to Barcelona. The forward lobbed a pass to Ronaldinho, who chested the ball to freeze the defender, then wound up and launched this bicycle kick into the upper right corner of the net, far out of reach of the keeper who was certainly not prepared for what had just happened.
Rafael Van Der Vaart's Back Heel Goal
This is another goal that qualifies as straight up ridiculous. Ajax had the ball and sent it towards the far left side of the net, the Ajax forward tried to center the ball but was a little bit off the mark.
Out of nowhere, Rafael Van Der Vaart just flicked his heel at the ball and sent it past the keeper into the back of the net. With the keeper rightfully on the left side of the net, he had no shot at stopping this heel shot to the bottom right corner. I still don't know how Van Der Vaart pulled this off, making it one of the best soccer goals of all time.