The overhead kick. It’s the ultimate, “I could definitely do that if I tried it enough times,” piece of skill, isn’t it?
Everyone fancies their chances at flinging their legs above their head to meet an airborne cross, connecting with such precision and timing that we propel the ball like a cannonball towards the Queen’s head.
But 1,684 attempts and one very bruised coccyx later, the goalkeeper is napping through boredom on the floor, and the top corner of the net remains untouched.
So it’s time we give credit to the men who can perform this skill on the biggest stage of all. To do that, we’ve picked out the 10 best overhead kicks in Champions League history, and yep, they’re ranked – just for you.
Just because it’s the most recent, it doesn’t make it the best. In fact, as far as overhead kicks go, Giroud’s was rather standard. The ball fell perfectly for the Frenchman, but he still had plenty to do, and in a short space of time.
And yet, he was able to readjust, twist and power home a superb overhead kick, which was so accurate even Jan Oblak couldn’t stop it. The only slight let down is that it wasn’t a proper net buster, but you can’t have it all.
Eran Zahavi was doing CR7 overhead kicks way before the Portuguese legend. The forward nailed this gymnastic attempt against Lyon in 2010, but it is a forgotten gem of Champions League history.
Zahavi watched the ball float into his path for a good second, before twisting completely to turn a shot towards goal, and into the top corner, no less.
A proper beauty.
This is a really, really good goal. It began with a majestic, flowing Madrid counter-attack, and ended with an absolute thunderbolt. Kaka’s floated delivery from the right was just begging for someone to plant their forehead on the ball, but Karim Benzema went one better.
The striker checked his run into the box, hovered for a split-second and then leathered a glorious acrobatic strike beyond the Ajax goalkeeper.
If we’re being harsh, the finish was a tad central – but the speed and strength of the shot atoned for such a minor critique.
A close range overhead kick, but this one is all about the pure, unadulterated technique. Angel Correa kicked off the action with a brilliant cross on the stretch which drifted to the back stick, where Antoine Griezmann was waiting, primed.
On the full, Griezmann conjured a moment of genius to break the deadlock, contorting his body to rifle past a helpless Alisson Becker. Nothing you can do but accept you’ve been beaten by a worldie, there.
In among all the great goals scored by football icons, Philippe Mexes’ incredible strike against Anderlecht in 2012 tends to fly under the radar. Perhaps it’s because he was only a centre-back, or not a proper superstar of the game – but that should render it all the more memorable.
Collecting a ball from a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, Mexes cushioned it on his chest, and then whacked out a mad overhead kick from the corner of the box.
It looped all the way into the far corner, leaving the Anderlecht goalkeeper rooted to his spot – only adding to the aesthetic beauty.
The fact that Mario Mandzukic had the audacity to attempt an overhead kick in a Champions League final against Real Madrid is enough to land the Croatian striker a place in our top five.
Not to mention that he pulled it off so brilliantly, which only consolidates his place in this prestigious list. Juventus were behind at the time, and it felt as if Mandzukic’s unbelievable strike could be a game changer. It wasn’t, as Madrid went on to win pretty comfortably.
Still, it shouldn’t be forgotten, even if its significance does not stand the test of time.
This is the most confusing of all the strikes. Mauro Bressan was stood with his back to goal, about 30 yards from the Barcelona net, and watched a vertically bouncing ball drop in front of him.
After one bounce, he unfurled the most outrageous of overhead kicks, which touched the heavens before plummeting back to earth. The ball kissed the crossbar on the way past Barça keeper Francesc Arnau, and nestled in the back of the net.
To this day, we can’t be entirely sure why he decided to attempt such a strike from such a distance, nor will we ever comprehend how it actually came off so beautifully. Sometimes, it’s best not to try and understand, but to simply enjoy.
There’s something mesmerising about watching a 6’7 man attempt – and execute – one of the most complex and acrobatic techniques in sport, which leaves you with a wry smile or a look of disbelief etched across your face.
Liverpool’s Peter Crouch defied logic, genetics and science to thrust his legs above his head and send a missile flying towards the Galatasaray goal back in 2006, stunning the football world.
Of course, those who’ve followed Crouchy over the years know he’s good for an acrobatic effort every now and again.
Cristiano Ronaldo has to settle for second place this time. But this is still one of the greatest Champions League goals ever scored, and somehow, feels like the pinnacle of the Portuguese star’s career: the dream goal to complete the set.
It was brilliant, too. Ronaldo started the move and then, as the cross drifted towards the penalty spot, he ran back into position and cast his legs up in the air all at the same time. And as we know, he struck the ball as crisply as you could ever dream.
So good, that Juventus’ supporters applauded him – the start of a new love affair.
Stop the count, this is the greatest Champions League overhead kick of all time. Outside of the obvious insanity behind this technique and finish, there is so much to dissect about this goal.
First up, the occasion. There’s no bigger match in European football than a Champions League final, and for this wonder goal to be a decisive strike, rather than a mere consolation, makes it all the more sweeter.
And for it to arrive just weeks after Ronaldo thought he’d secured first place on the podium – well, that’s quite funny really. All in all, it was a goal worthy of winning the greatest club competition on our earth. Congratulations, Gareth.