Toppo’s Top Tens – Volleys

For lovers of the beautiful game, there are few things more beautiful than seeing a ball smashed home on the volley. They require expert timing, technique and execution, all of which make for some fabulous strikes. For years kids up and down the country have kicked many a ball into their neighbours gardens trying to emulate the very best.

In my first blog I looked at great overhead kicks. This list was even more enjoyable to compile, as I’ve watched numerous videos of brilliant volleys, all of which have made it difficult to pick my definitive top ten, but here it is – a collection of absolute belters.

10. MAXI RODRIGUEZ: ARGENTINA v Mexico – World Cup Second Round 2006

A tight second-round match at the World Cup needed something special to separate Argentina and Mexico, step forward Maxi Rodriguez. On the far corner of the Mexican penalty box and controlling Sorin’s cross-field ball on his chest, he produces a fantastic strike to seal a quarter-final berth for his team. Fans at Anfield would love to see him to do something similar in the future.

9. JOE COLE: ENGLAND v Sweden – World Cup Group Group Stages 2006

Staying in Germany and a highlight from what was a disappointing World Cup for Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England. Joe Cole was arguably the Three Lions’ best player in 2006 and this strike shows why. From fully 35 yards he beats Andreas Isaksson through sheer opportunism and great technique.

8. PAUL SCHOLES: Bradford City v MANCHESTER UNITED – Premier League 2000

Paul Scholes is a man renowned for being a clean striker of a football, as demonstrated here. David Beckham floats a corner to the edge of the penalty area straight into the path of the Ginger Ninja whose volley is one you could watch again and again. How England have missed him in midfield over the last six years. Still, we’ve always got Stewart Downing……

7. MARCO VAN BASTEN: HOLLAND v USSR – European Championship Final 1988

Holland are famously known as perennial underachievers on the international stage, with the 1988 European Championships their only major honour. The goal which sealed that title for the Dutch came from arguably their greatest ever goal-poacher in some style. From an almost impossible angle he volleys across goal into the far side of the net, leaving coach Rinus Michels and the 70,000 strong crowd scratching their heads in amazement.

6. HAMIT ALTINTOP: Kazakhstan v TURKEY – Euro 2012 Qualifiying 2010

Bayern Munich and Turkey midfielder Hamit Altintop produces one hell of a strike here. From a deep corner to the far edge of the penalty box he rifles home, similar to the Scholes goal earlier but just that bit better. Not surprisingly the video of this goal has already got nearly a million views in little under three weeks on YouTube.

5. ROBIN VAN PERSIE: Charlton Athletic v ARSENAL – Premier League 2006

He may struggle to get through a season without picking up some form of injury, but Robin Van Persie is a key player at Arsenal. The Dutchman posesses a ferocious left foot with which he’s scored some great goals for the Gunners and his country, but this has to be the best of his career so far. Hanging in the air like something out of ‘The Matrix’ Van Persie slams the ball into the net. Pick that one out keeper.

4. PAOLO DI CANIO: WEST HAM UNITED v Wimbledon  – Premier League 2000

The Italian may have been tempramental and awkward at times but he was a supremely talented player. After the controversy surrounding his shove on referee Paul Alcock whilst at Sheffield Wednesday, he found redemption with the Hammers and Harry Redknapp – we’re glad he did. He became a hero at Upton Park and this goal is a cracker, an outstanding volley across goal with the outside of his foot.

3. THIERRY HENRY: ARSENAL v Manchester United – Premier League 2000

Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer who could get goals from pretty much anywhere, not bad to say he was a winger when Arsene Wenger signed him 11 years ago. Moved inside to a central role, the Frenchman was at times unplayable. Receiving Gilles Grimandi’s pass with his back to goal, in one swift movement he flicks the ball up and volleys it in the top corner past Fabien Barthez. Pure quality.

2. ALAN SHEARER: NEWCASTLE UNITED v Everton – Premier League 2002

The last great classic English number 9 and Newcastle’s favourite son had to be in this list somewhere. He may have had a rubbish celebration but there was nothing rubbish about this goal, a tremendous volley struck with such power it nearly burst the net at the Gallowgate End. He did it without even breaking stride; “Wor Shearer, like” indeed.  

1. ZINEDINE ZIDANE: REAL MADRID v Bayer Leverkusen – Champions League Final 2003

One of the most memorable volleys ever – and that’s why it’s number one. In the Champions League final ‘Zizou’ scores a goal to grace any stadium in the world and one worthy of winning any trophy. The height at which he strikes the ball is breathtaking, as is the fact this was with his weaker left foot. A true galactico if ever there was one.

Now for something remarkable……

Dragan Stojkovic, former Yugoslavian World Cup captain scored over 150 goals in his career, but I doubt any of them matched this one as manager of Japanese team Nagoya Grampus Eight. To volley straight into the net from the technical area 50 yards away – whilst wearing a pair of Next loafers – takes some doing. The referee sent him to the stands for this, he should’ve been sent on a lap of honour!

Are there some I’ve left out? Tweet me your favourite all-time volleys at www.twitter.com/steven_toplis or www.twitter.com/optajokepodcast.

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