After much research, diving into the archives of personal experience, and looking over hundreds of YouTube videos, these are what I believe to be the best World Cup goals of all time.
5. Lee Eul Yong of South Korea, 2002
Though there isn’t a single free kick ever that comes close to Roberto Carlos’ epic free kick in the 1997 World Cup qualifiers, I was unable to include it in this article because it was not in the actual world cup, so I am going with the free kick which I believe is as close as you can get in World Cup games. Though South Korea may not be a dominant force in the football world, this goal had my jaw drop when I saw it. It sent the game to half with a tie score at 1-1 in South Korea’s match against Turkey. The link on the name is a real short version of it. To see it closer, go through this link at about the 1:20 mark.
4. Michael Owen of England, 1998
Though England did not when this game, this is unquestionably one of the best World Cup goals in history. With a pass from Shearer leading him, he took off, sprinting across half the pitch, and put it in with two defenders on him and two more trailing. This would help propel the then-eighteen year old Michael Owen’s career and get his name out as a prominent scorer on the world stage.
3. Dennis Bergkamp of Holland, 1998
After one touching and slowing a 60-yard aerial pass from Holland teammate, Frank de Boer, Bergkamp controlled the ball, megged Argentine defenseman, Roberto Ayala, and put it passed the keeper and into the goal with the outside of his right foot at an incredible angle. His goal broke the tie between Holland and Argentina, and propelled Holland into the semi-finals.
The two best goals on this list come in the exact same World Cup, and possibly one of the best of all time, the 1986 match.
2. Josimar Melo of Brazil, 1986
Though the game was hardly a contest, this goal was brilliant. After a bit of passing amongst the forwards, Josimar took one dribble forward and pounded the ball into the goal, upper ninety, from far outside the goal box. This goal pretty much sealed Brazil’s victory over Northern Ireland in the 1986 World Cup’s pot play.
1. Diego Maradona of Argentina, 1986
This goal is simply marvelous and needs no introduction to most football fans. Putting Argentina up two-nil against England in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup, Maradona’s goal in the fifty-fifth minute is one for the record books. After taking on, seemingly, the entire English defense, and even faking out the keeper, Maradona managed to get the ball in the back of the net although a defender took his legs out just as he reared back for the shot.
With the 2010 World Cup fast approaching, hopefully there will be many more goals epic enough to be on this list.