ICONS of Football 2017 will see 24 of the beautiful game’s all-time greats take part in a Ryder-Cup-style competition at The Belfry this summer, pitting Lee Westwood’s England side against Darren Clarke’s Rest of the World.
The tournament, held from 23rd to 25th of June, will draw fans from both the footballing and golfing worlds, but how successfully can the participants transition their unquestionable talent across sports? Of course, some of their qualities will naturally carry over, but hitting a hole-in-one on a par four isn’t quite the same challenge as coming out on top in the Manchester derby.,
One thing that could give us an insight, however, is the finishing ability of those involved, giving us an insight into their general co-ordination and accuracy on the putting green. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Rest of the World’s greatest hotshots…
Gabriel Batistuta is a Fiorentina icon, famed for his loyalty to the club during a spell that saw him score 207 goals in 332 appearances across all competitions. He produced countless stunners equal to this one along the way, but there’s something almost poetic about the above strike – his first goal for Roma coming against his former club in sensational style. The Argentine bagged 19 more that season to claim his first Serie A title.
Patrik Berger is best famed for his many years at Liverpool, but arguably his greatest Premier League goal came during a shorter spell at Portsmouth, latching onto a free kick, swivelling and driving the ball into the net on the half-turn in one swift movement. One of eight he bagged in two top flight campaigns with Pompey.
Brother Frank stopped them whilst Ronald De Boer concentrated on putting them in at the other end. The attacking midfielder’s career spanned spells with Ajax, Barcelona and Rangers to name a few, notching up 141 goals in total, including his efforts for the Netherlands. One strike particularly stands out – the final goal in the above compilation. De Boer controlled the ball in the box under pressure, flicked it past a defender in the air and drilled it into the onion bag. Nicely done.
Manchester United fans will remember more iconic goals from their all-time record appearance maker, but this goal stands out for it’s timing and uniqueness. Giggs had previously spent the best part of a decade playing second fiddle to David Beckham at dead ball situations, so when the former England captain moved to Real Madrid in 2003, it was the Welshman who picked up the free kick mantle. This rasping effort against Bolton meant there was a new ‘Golden Balls’ in town.
Take your pick of the above three, but the second goal is our favourite. Pep Guardiola was always a danger from free kicks during his playing days and wasted no time in catching the Deportivo goalkeeper a few too many yards off his line.
It may not be the most glamorous of goals but was undoubtedly the most important of Dirk Kuyt’s Liverpool career. The Dutchman improvised to come good on his own error, sneaking a ricocheting ball into the corner of the net in the 2012 League Cup final. He’d also convert in the penalty shootout as the Reds beat Cardiff to the trophy.
Alessandro Del Piero gave us 343 goals to choose from but this effort against Germany at the 2006 World Cup particularly stood out, not least because Italy won the title for the fourth time that summer. A superb Azzurri move was finished off in style by the Juventus legend to secure his country a place in the final.
You wouldn’t expect a goalkeeper to have much of a goalscoring highlight reel but Peter Schmeichel was no ordinary goalkeeper. The great Dane netted eleven times throughout his career, scoring for four different clubs, and this was undoubtedly his most memorable effort – a bicycle kick Wayne Rooney would be proud of.
One of the all-time greats, few have replicated the clinical consistency in which Andriy Shevchenko found the net during a Champions League-winning spell at AC Milan. The Ukrainian was a world-class poacher pure and simple, but it was his danger from long range that became most prevalent when he produced this thunderbolt against Serie A rivals Juventus.
Former defender Nemanja Vidic was never going to trump his ROTW team-mates in aesthetic terms but this goal deserves a mention. Amid a difficult season for Manchester United following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, they faced reigning European champions Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The Red Devils failed to progress to the next round, but Vidic’s exceptional header, arching backwards to accurately push the ball past Manuel Neuer, gave them some pride to go home with.
Dwight Yorke may be better famed for his achievements at Manchester United but he was equally lethal whilst making his name at Aston Villa. The Trinidad and Tobago man was always an incredible athlete and this goal highlights it, completely bamboozling the opposition goalkeeper with a perfectly executed bicycle kick.