1. DIEGO MARADONA, 1986
Come on, this is still the best. Having shamefully flapped it in with his hand earlier in the match, Argentina’s malevolent sprite dribbles past the entire England team including Peter Shilton before passing into an empty net to win the World Cup quarter-final. Afterwards, Maradona was good enough to admit that any other team in the tournament would have hacked him down before he’d left the centre circle.
2. ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC, 2012
The new contender, the fourth of four goals scored by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Sweden’s 4-2 win against an experimental England side last night – the chief experiment being that for periods of the game England passed it to each other and sometimes broke into a run. Even this could not stop Ibra, however, who capped his match-winning performance with this mind-bender. Yes, the keeper’s out of his goal, but keen students of the game will know that overhead-kicking it into the bottom corner from 35 yards is actually deceptively difficult. Well done.
3. FERENC PUSKAS, 1953
The inaugural “England are made to look silly” goal: in 1953, England still thought they were the best in the world, and their traditional tactics could not be beaten – they’d only ever lost at home to Ireland, which they decided not to count. Then Hungary visited and marmalised their hosts 6-3, with the best goal being the third from the magical Puskás. Watch for the dragback before he belts it in: to the English players at the time, this was as exotic and baffling as if he’d whipped out an iPad and played footage of Bowie doing Starman on Top of the Pops.
4. RONALDINHO, 2002
Did he mean it? Assuming he did, this goal by the Brazilian Amy Winehouse look-a-like is pure genius, for the precision of the shot, the audacity to try it at 1-1 in a World Cup quarter-final, and the cool judgement to know that although David Seaman wasn’t that far off his line, it would take him too long to compute that this wasn’t a cross. England were tiring already in the Shizuoka heat – after this, their heads went down and they were out.
5. RUI COSTA, 2004
Another major quarter-final, another hammer blow: England scored early on but lost Wayne Rooney to a broken foot, lost the lead to a soft goal and then, in extra time, went behind to this corker from subsitute Rui Costa, whose shot was past David James before he’d seen it. England equalised but went out of Euro 2004 on penalties.