As West Ham United prepare to take on Crystal Palace in the Premier League, the fixture will bring to mind one goal and one goal only for many fans.
No, not Neil Shipperley’s play-off final winner, a goal which no one other than Neil Shipperley could accurately describe, but rather Andy Carroll’s bicycle kick in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Palace at the London Stadium in January 2017.
Watching Carroll fly through the air like rewound footage of a felled sequoia, you can’t help but think of other overhead kicks from years gone by.
Some with better technique, some with more surprising sources, some – like Wayne Rooney’s Manchester Derby winner – great despite being, to all intents and purposes, glorified shinners.
Here’s a selection of some of our favourites from around the world. Obviously, Carroll’s can’t be topped in the Premier League stakes.
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Cristiano Ronaldo v Juventus
There are a lot of great things about Cristiano Ronaldo’s bicycle kick in Real Madrid’s victory at the Juventus Stadium.
It’s against Gigi Buffon, of course, which is always worth mentioning, while we probably need to pay attention to any goal so extravagant when it’s scored in the pressure situation of the Champions League knockout rounds.
The main thing, though? The ball is six feet in the air.
Ronaldo is one of the best headers of a ball around and can get unreal power from his neck muscles.
A header would have been the obvious move here – some might say easier – and yet he decides “no, I can score a header any time – I want to show off and I want people to know I’m showing off”.
Gareth Bale v Liverpool
If scoring a bicycle kick in a Champions League quarter-final is good, we might have run out of superlatives to describe the audaciousness of Bale to pull one off in the final – with the scores level, no less.
Oh, and we should probably mention that Bale had been on the pitch for all of two minutes when he produced the goods, as if to tell Zinedine Zidane he could have already scored 30 bicycle kicks if he’d been thrown in from the start.
And frankly, when we watch this back, who are we to argue?
The Liverpool players look like they’re about to be physically sick, which is the only appropriate response to a goal so good it feels like it should be illegal.
Joe Cole v Puerto Rico FC
We’re not sure who the commentator is on this, but we just want to congratulate him on getting his priorities in order.
By screaming “Bicycle kick… goal!” he correctly identifies that one of these things is more important than the other, and it sure isn’t the ball hitting the back of the Puerto Rico net.
The execution from Joe Cole is pretty tidy, too, not that you’d notice over the commentary.
To focus on that alone is akin to watching an Olympic 100m final and complimenting the style with which the starter sets off his pistol.
Edinson Cavani v Barcelona
There are many reasons we shouldn’t care all that much about Edinson Cavani’s goal against Barcelona, and chief among them is the fact that it didn’t count.
This isn’t a comment about friendlies being pointless games, or even about Napoli proceeding to ship five goals, thus rendering the Uruguayan’s finish moot. Rather, it simply didn’t count in the purest terms. It was disallowed, after Marek Hamšik was flagged offside in the build-up.
However, nearly eight years on, we still haven’t come to terms with it. Can’t we bend the rules on this one occasion?
The movement. The preparedness of a man so heavy to hit the turf with such force. The ball bouncing in off the crossbar, ergo the best way a goal can be scored.
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