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The 10 best ever England World Cup goals

Inside this weekend’s The Mail on Sunday, Michael Owen will reveal what he believes to be the greatest goal ever scored at the World Cup with strong contenders from Pele and Maradonna to Ronaldo and Messi.

England have scored a grand total of 79 goals at the finals shared between 49 players, including David Beckham, Alan Shearer and Jimmy Greaves. Ahead of the most anticipated tournament in the world, we have taken a look back at the best goals scored by Englishmen at the World Cup and ranked the top 10 efforts.

Will any of England’s 23-man squad make it on this list after the tournament? Don’t miss this weekend’s The Mail on Sunday for all the top pre-tournament analysis and a giant, glossy poster featuring all the England stars that will be hoping to impress this summer!

Don’t agree with our list? Have your say by leaving a comment below!

10. DAVID BECKHAM (England 2-0 Colombia) – June 26, 1998

When Paul Ince was brought down 28 yards out from the goal, there was only one man who was going to step up to take the free-kick.

David Beckham took his signature stance as he stood over the ball and spotted that the Colombian goalkeeper was way out on the right hand side of the goal.

He took his run-up and placed the ball into the top left corner, curling out of reach of the keeper and opening the scoring in a 2-0 victory.

9. JERMAIN DEFOE (England 1-0 Slovenia) June 23, 2010

In a must-win game to reach the last-16, James Milner was given the ball after finding some space on the wing and whipped a dangerous ball into the box to find Jermain Defoe.

A lethal poacher from 6 yards, he hit the ball on the volley, beating the Slovenian defender Suler and the keeper, Handanovic could only tip the ball into the roof of the net.

8. PAUL SCHOLES (England 2-0 Tunisia) June 15, 1998 

In a game filled with chances and a sublime performance from the Tunisian goalkeeper, Paul Scholes showed why he was such an important part of the England team in 1998.

Scholes was central to most of the attacking play in the second half and after he was fed a pass from former Manchester United teammate Paul Ince, he made himself some space and opened up to shoot.

His curling effort was always turning away from the goalkeeper and flew into the top right corner, securing a much deserved win.

7. STEVEN GERRARD (England 2-0 Trinidad and Tobago) June 15, 2006

In a game full of chances, England struggled to break the deadlock against Trinidad in 2006 and it took until the 83rd minute for Peter Crouch to finally break the deadlock with a glancing header from a David Beckham cross.

Then in the 90th minute, Steven Gerrard received the ball around 35 yards out, produced a swift turn before dummying his run to beat his man, and then hit a brilliant left-foot screamer that flew in from the edge of the area.

The goal booked England’s place into the last-16 and was Gerrard’s first goal at a World Cup finals.

6. DARREN ANDERTON – (England 2-0 Colombia) – June 26 1998

England needed only a draw in this group stage fixture against Colombia, but Glenn Hoddle’s men came out to win.

After only 20 minutes, England had taken the lead against the South Americans who were ranked 10th in the world at the time with a stunning strike from Tottenham’s Darren Anderton.

Michael Owen had drifted out to the wing and delivered a relatively poor cross, but the centre back Bermudez could only knock the ball into the stride of Anderton who, after controlling the ball on his thigh, volleyed a blistering strike into the roof of the net with the outside of his foot.

England were knocked out in the next round against Argentina in which would be Hoddle’s final game in charge at a major tournament. You can also read about Hoddle’s thoughts on the current England squad and the rest of the players to watch out for at the tournament inside this weekend’s The Mail on Sunday. 

5. BOBBY CHARLTON (England 2-0 Mexico) – July 16, 1966

After picking the ball up in his own half, Charlton set off on one of his signature runs into the opposite half.

The Mexican defenders seemed to retreat and shied away from making any tackle on the England number 9.

After a slight feint to confuse the final defender and take the ball onto his right foot, he looked up and smashed a rocket of a shot into the top right stanchion from 28 yards out.

“What a goal! What a man!” 

4. JOE COLE (England 2-2 Sweden) – June, 20 – 2006

The sheer bravado of Joe Cole to attempt this kind of strike, let alone at the World Cup is enough to place it near the top of this list.

England had been peppering the Sweden goals for the first half an hour of the match to no avail and, after they had cleared their lines after a scramble in the box, Sweden must’ve breathed a sigh of relief.

The ball however, bounced kindly for Cole who trapped it on his chest and hit a sensational dipping, curving lob for 35 yards that Isaksson could only help into the top corner. 

3. DAVID PLATT (England 1-0 Belgium aet) – June 27, 1990

The game was heading for a penalty shoot-out in a matter of seconds until England were awarded a free-kick inside the opposition half. Paul Gascoigne then floated in a ball over the Belgium defence, finding David Platt who had replaced Steve McMahon in the second half.

Platt had managed to find himself in some space between the tired Belgian defenders and connected with the ball on the volley.

The shot wasn’t very powerful, but the swift turn and technique was enough to send the ball into the top corner away from the world class Belgian goalkeeper, Michel Preud’homme

Unfortunately, Platt wasn’t able to celebrate with the rest of the team after the match after being taken for a random drug test immediately after the game.

2. GEOFF HURST (England 4-2 West Germany) – July 30, 1966 

With the German defenders sent forward to grab a last gasp equaliser, Bobby Moore looked up and saw Geoff Hurt in space on the half-way line and with a pin-point accuracy, he picked him out and he was then one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Some of the crowd are on the pitch, they think it’s all over, it is now! These are the words of Kenneth Wolstenholme, that were immortalised the moment England sealed their 4-2 victory with Hurst’s thunderous strike into the roof of the net.

Hurst, later said that he hit the ball as hard as he could to send the ball flying into the stands should it miss, in order to kill time on the clock.

The goal was Hurt’s third of the game enshrining his place in history as the only player to score a hat-trick in world cup final.

1. MICHAEL OWEN (England 2-2 Argentina) – June 30, 1998

One of the best goals ever scored at the World Cup, 18-year old Michael Owen exploded onto the global scene with a stunning individual effort against the two-time world champions.

With hints of Maradonna’s solo effort against England in 1986, Owen took a beautiful touch to control a pass from David Beckham before starting a blistering run past defender Jose Chalmot.

Owen shrugged off the tackle and made his way into the penalty area before lifting a precise shot above the goalkeeper into the top left corner.

This spectacular effort was unfortunately not enough to get England through to the quarter final after the Argentinian’s won the game on penalties.  

England players will be looking to make their way onto this list at this year’s tournament and to see which players could be firing the goals, inside every copy of this weekend’s The Mail on Sunday you’ll get a giant, glossy double-sided poster with all the England heroes we’ll be cheering for this summer.

Also inside The Mail on Sunday, Glenn Hoddle, former England player and manager brings his expertise and offers his thoughts on the England squad and his top players to keep an eye on throughout the tournament.

Michael Owen will also be dissecting one of the greatest World Cup goals ever, his own strike against Argentina in 1998 and England’s prospects of making past the quarter finals for the first time this century.

Don’t miss your giant World Cup poster only inside this weekend’s The Mail on Sunday.

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Author: Nancy Parker

Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.

Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.

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