As the world cup draws closer, we'll be seeing a lot of "best" lists. So why not add one to the pile. I present to you my top World Cup goals. A bit of a primer, though. I decided if I was going to pick my favorite World Cup goals, it would have to be goals that I actually saw live on the telly or in person. So my list starts with 1978, the first World Cup I remember watching. I have also made the decision not to include the Maradona run because we have all seen that goal many, many, times. Besides, he got a brace the next game as well that was better.
So here it goes, in no particular order. My favorite World Cup goals.
Nelinho, Brazil vs Italy, Argentina 1978
This is the first World Cup I remember watching. The lasting memories are the paper flood in the final, Haan's bomb (more on that later) and this goal from Nelinho.
Manuel Negrete, Mexico vs Bulgaria, Mexico 1986
Even my non-soccer loving mom jumped out her chair when this one hit the back of the net.
Diego Maradona vs Argentina vs Belgium, Mexico 86
If his run vs England put him in a class by himself, then this double against the Belgians established a beachhead.
Iordan Letchkov vs Bulgaria vs Germany, USA 1994
Hristo equalized with a great free kick, but this flying header came out of nowhere to dump the Germans in one of the great World Cup weekends of all time.
Branco vs Brazil vs Holland, USA 1994
I was at the Cotton Bowl for this one (on the UT side no less). It was only 85 degrees and the party the night before is something I will never forget.
Jared Borgetti vs Mexico vs Italy, JK 2002
The best goal from a player who scored a ton of them. And what a time to do it.
All of Brazil's goals in 1982. Those who read this space regularly know the high regard in which I hold this side. When I first started compiling this list, I could not decide which of the goals would make the cut? Would it be Socrates' screamer vs the Russians? What about Eder's? Falcao's stunner in Barcelona? Junior's samba dance through Argentina? So many choices. So, why pick? Here are all of them.
Sunday Oliseh, Nigeria vs Spain, France 98
I was bartending in 1998, and after a particularly long night, I remember halfway watching this match. I gave it my full attention when Raul one-timed Dpain into the lead, only to see Zubi let it slip away. Sunday Oliseh then finished Spain off.
Dennis Bergkamp vs Argentina, France 98 A crazy end to a crazy game. Is it just me or do World Cup games look better in the summer sun?
Igor Belanov vs Belgium, Mexico 86
Belgium prevailed 4-3 in extra time in what is surely on the most underrated games in World Cup history, but that Belanov goal, wow!
Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Mexico vs Belgium, France 98
El Temo is the only Mexican to score in 3 World Cups, and his first was a classic.
Lothar Matthaus, Germany vs Yugoslavia, Italia 90
The Germans were the thing worth remembering in a very forgettable World Cup.
Daniel Amokachi, Nigeria vs Greece, USA 94
The Nigerian National team sat behind us at the Spain-South Korea match at the Cotton Bowl. I asked one of them, who turned out to be Daniel Amokachi, if they could beat these guys. He laughed and laughed and laughed before saying "of course!"
Arie Haan, Holland vs Italy, Argentina 78 The aforementioned bomb.
Thomas Brolin, Sweden vs Romania, USA 94
This goal was scored the same day as the Letchkov header. The day after the Branco goal. What a weekend! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48x5dX-x7r4
Hopefully we can have a weekend in Brazil that can top that one.