There are few moves on a football pitch which compare to overhead/bicycle kicks. The sight of players leaping in the air, backs to goal, volleying home over their heads is truly a sight to behold. Get it right and you’re a genius – get it wrong and you look like a tit.
The origin of the move is disputed – however it’s widely believed to have originated from one man – Ramon Unzagla Asla, a native of Bilbao who moved to Chile and performed the move there around 1915, at a time when individual skill was at the forefront of the South American game.
Bizarrely, despite having never played football at any meaningful level, former Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis claimed in his autobiography to have pioneered the bicycle kick. Baffled? Same here.
Here are some fine examples of bicycle kicks, ten of the best which would make that man from Bilbao (and Deadly Doug) proud.
10) EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR: Villarreal v ARSENAL – Champions League 2009
He may have had an acrimonious departure from The Emirates, but Emmanuel Adebayor scored some fantastic goals for the Gunners, none more so than this effort which earned a crucial draw in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. This was his penultimate goal for the club, and quite possibly his best.
9) NICK WRIGHT: Bolton Wanderers v WATFORD – 1st Division Play-Off Final 1999
A goal to truly grace the old Wembley Stadium. What a moment for the long-haired winger as he pops up with a spectacular strike to send the Hornets on their way to a 2-0 win, back-to-back promotions and a place in the Premier League for the first time. Almost in the words of Graham Taylor – ‘Oh do I like that!’
8- RONALDINHO: BARCELONA v Villarreal – La Liga 2007.
Villarreal appear again as victims of the overhead kick, from the time when this man was widely considered the best player on the planet. After seemingly miscontrolling the ball, he improvises superbly to score. This was a goal he said ‘he dreamt of scoring as a child.’ Haven’t we all.
7) PETER CROUCH: LIVERPOOL v Galatasaray – Champions League 2007
The tallest man to ever play football defies gravity in front of the Kop, meeting Steve Finnan’s cross to gracefully smash an overhead kick past the bemused goalkeeper to put Liverpool 3-0 up. I agree with the commentator on this one.
6) ROGER BOLI: WALSALL v Southend United – Nationwide Division Two 1997
Those who watch football regularly at the Bescot Stadium have probably never seen a goal like this before, or since. The older brother of former French defender Basile Boli apparently kept Eric Cantona out of the French Under-21 team and was once top scorer in France with Lens – so naturally Walsall was his next career move. The goal is still talked about by Saddlers fans, and who can blame them? Take a bow son.
5) DIMITAR BERBATOV: MANCHESTER UNITED v Liverpool – Barclays Premier League 2010
The most recent goal in our countdown, and a special one at that. Lazy and moody are words which have been used to describe the £30 million pound Bulgarian – but there’s no denying the guy’s talent. This goal was the 2nd of his hat-trick against United’s arch rivals in their 3-2 win, and if he keeps doing this, the fans won’t care if he does stand around for 89 minutes a game.
4) ELIRAN ATAR: BNEI YEHUDA v Maccabi Netania – Israeli League 2009
A hidden gem from Israeli football here, as Atar volleys into the top corner from twelve yards out. I just love the looks of disbelief amongst the coaching staff on the touchline here.
3) YOURI DJORKAEFF: INTER MILAN v AS Roma – Serie A 1997
Youri Djorkaeff had a glittering football career. Winning a World Cup and European Championship with France and playing for clubs in some of Europe’s most cosmopolitan footballing cities; Turin, Monaco, Milan, Paris…….and Bolton. During this time he scored some marvellous goals, but this is the pick of them all – a bicycle kick from an impossible angle which flies over the head of the goalie, replayed time and again on Channel 4’s Football Italia. Sit back and enjoy.
2) TREVOR SINCLAIR: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v Barnsley – FA Cup 1997
Voted as Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season in 1996/97, this goal from a dreadlocked Trevor Sinclair is unbelieveable. The sheer power generated and the height at which he strikes the ball makes it special, it’s the first goal that probably comes to mind when you think of great overhead kicks. Sven knew what he was doing taking this man to the 2002 World Cup.
1) MAURO BRESSAN: FIORENTINA v Barcelona – Champions League 1999
Sinclair’s overhead kick may be many people’s choice to be number one, but I think this just edges it. Mauro Bressan may not be a name you’re very familiar with, but he produced for La Viola one of the greatest goals ever witnessed in the Champions League. Scoring a bicycle kick is hard enough, but to do it from 25 yards is something else. Amazing goal.
And finally….the most dramatic overhead kick:
RIVALDO: BARCELONA v Valencia – La Liga 2001
I had to put this one in here somewhere. In 2001 Barcelona found themselves needing to beat Valencia in their last game of the season to qualify for the Champions League. With the score at 2-2 in the final minute, he scores the winning goal which lifts the roof off the Nou Camp, a fantastic overhead kick which meant Barcelona made it into the Champions League. Cue delirium in the stadium, brilliant.