Goalkeepers have one duty call- to stop the ball from going in the net. That is it. Simple, right? In the modern game, they may now be required to possess good distribution, but no more than that. Though it is a hard job, the responsibilities are more than easy to understand.
One of those responsibilities of a goalkeeper isn’t to do the opposite and score them yourself. Unsurprisingly, it almost never happens. For example, throughout the top four tiers of English football, there have only been two goals scored by those tasked with stopping them from going in this season- and that is a high number by the usual standards.
As we all know, the unthinkable happened over the weekend as Alisson’s header for Liverpool found the back of the West Bromwich Albion net deep into added time. To score as a goalkeeper is always a monumental, mantelpiece-worthy achievement- but the Brazilian’s last-grasp winner could just prove to be huge, with the Reds’ top-four aspirations looking that extra bit rosier as a result.
So, it is a fitting time to look at other goalkeepers who have previously painted themselves into folklore by performing the art of goalscoring. Without further ado, here are five of the most iconic goals from goalkeepers over the years.
5. Tim Howard- Everton V Bolton
Whilst it is undeniable that the windy conditions had a part to play, it came off the boot of Tim Howard. So, it is his goal- and one he will remember for quite some time.
With the score tied at 0-0 with just under half an hour to play, the fixture was hardly going to be sketched down as Premier League classic. But then, from a moment that should’ve yielded normality, something extraordinary occured.
French defender Sylvain Distin played an elementary backpass to goalkeeper Tim Howard, who promptly swung his right boot at it and cleared the ball upfield. Well, that was his intention, anyway.
Goodison Park fell silent as each set of eyes in the ground closely tracked the flight of the ball, which was soaring across the length of the pitch at an alarming rate. He couldn’t, could he?
He could indeed. It took a bounce roughly 30 yards out on goal, but by that point, Adam Bogdan was stunned and could only appear heap of bewilderment on the Everton turf when the ball looped over his head and into the back of the net.
Unfortunately for Howard, his goalkeeping heroics weren’t quite as remarkable that evening as David Ngog and Gary Cahill both found the back of the net to seal a 2-1 victory for the Trotters.
4. Peter Schmeichel- Manchester United V Rotor Volgograd
Peter Schmeichel’s career was as idiosyncratic as it was iconic. The Great Dane donned specially-designed XXXL goalkeeper shirts and found the back of the net on 10 occasions. However, there happens to be one particular goal that will go down as his most cherished.
Having played out a 0-0 draw in the away leg of a UEFA Cup first round match against Russian side Rotor Volgograd, United found themselves 2-0 down after half an hour at Old Trafford.
Paul Scholes converted from a rebound to give the Red Devils a glancing glimmer of hope and as the fixture approached its dying embers, United were awarded a corner. Schmeichel raced up the pitch and duly connected with Ryan Giggs’ delivery, heading the ball home in a way reminiscent of an archetypal centre forward.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough; Rotor managed to progress to the next round on the basis of away goals, though it did stand to preserve what was then a 56-game unbeaten home record in Europe for the English Giants.
His son, Kasper, has seemingly inherited his father’s outlandish exploits too. The 34-year old headed in a last-grasp equaliser for Leicester City against Yeovil Town back in 2014 to salvage a crucial point for the Foxes.
3. Alberto Brignoli- Benevento V AC Milan
In December 2017, Italian side Benevento made history and sent the footballing world into astonishment. They had achieved promotion to Serie A for the first time in their history, but had lost all of their opening 14 matches of the 2017/18 campaign and were universally unfancied as they hosted AC Milan.
The Rossineri led 2-1 deep into injury time when Benevento earned a free kick, and the onrushing Alberto Brignoli made himself avaliable in the 18-yard box. A precise swing from midfielder Danilo Cataldi met the head of the Italian stopper, who powered home an emphatic diving header in the 95th minute- ensuring that his team gained their first point of the season in the most enthralling fashion.
Sure enough, the South Italian side still succumbed to relegation, but that fabled moment will rest long in the memories at the Stadio Circo Vigorito for years to come.
2. Tolo Barcelo- UE Alcudia V Real Mallorca B
Be honest here, does the name Tolo Barcelo resonate with you? Well, unless you’re a devout follower of the Spanish lower leagues, it is fairly unlikely that you will find yourself familiarised with the 26-year old. For context, he doesn’t even have his own wikipedia page.
But, what he does have, is one of the greatest goals in goalkeeping history- a strange sentence if ever there was one. The scene was a showdown in the fourth tier of Spanish football between UE Alcudia- Barcelo’s team- and Real Mallorca B. Mallorca carried a 1-0 lead as the fixture drew to a close, and the hosts had earned a free kick.
Barcelo raced upfield to join his teammates in desperate search of an equaliser and when the free kick was floated across the penalty area, the Spaniard adjusted into prime position before executing a bicycle kick that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would’ve been proud of.
Promptly, a sea of blissful blue jerseys basked in rapture as they mobbed Barcelo, with Mallorca players left at a loss as to what had just happened. It was truly unbelievable. But, was it the pick of the bunch? Not quite. Barcelo’s goal takes some beating, yet it would be nigh on impossible to replicate or, better still, trump the efforts of our first-place candidate.
1. Jimmy Glass- Carlisle United V Plymouth Argyle
And finally, this list takes us all the way up to a cloudy Saturday afternoon in Cumbria on the cusp of the millennium. It was the final day of the 1998/99 season and Carlisle United played host to Plymouth Argyle in the old Third Division. In order to avoid relegation out of the Football League, the Cumbrians simply needed to win- though, with only 10 seconds to play and the two sides tied at 1-1 that possibility was swiftly fading out of grasp.
Then, Carlisle won a corner and no one could’ve ever dared to anticipate what would ensure. Glass, who was on loan at the time from Swindon Town, was making his third appearance for the club and dashed into the box as the Cumbrians took a last roll of the dice. The Argyle goalkeeper had parried out Scott Dobie’s goalbound header, but Glass reacted quickest to volley the ball home and subsequently send Brunton Park into a euphoric eruption.
Carlisle supporters wasted no time in swarming the pitch in a mass frenzy. The referee was swamped, crossbars were bounced on and Glass, of course, was the victim of a rather ecstatic pile-on. That had secured Carlisle’s survival, and in turn, Scarborough were sent packing. Dependent on Carlisle’s result, they could’ve only needed a point and after drawing 1-1 at Peterborough, they had took to the pitch themselves. However, when news from the North West reached London Road, those scenes of elation soon turned into devastation as Scarborough supporters fell despondently to the floor in disbelief.
Indeed, it is somewhat interesting how after his heroics, Glass descended back into obscurity yet again.
Following his loan spell at Carlisle, he headed to Cambridge United. However, he failed to make a single appearance there and later went on to Brentford and Oxford United, before dropping down into non-league and retiring from professional football aged 27. Glass became an IT salesman and then a taxi driver, though he would return to the sport as a Player Liason Officer with Bournemouth in 2016.
Ultimately, Glass’ glory managed to stand the test of time and to this day, it is still etched firmly in the folklore of English Football. His goal was selected as the 72nd greatest sporting moment ever by the Channel 4 programme 100 Greatest Sporting Moments. It was number 15 in the 20 Goals That Shook the World on ITV. The Times ranked it 7th in the list of the 50 most important moments in football history. And, the very boots that he marked history in were donated to the National Football Museum in 2014.
Not bad for a journeyman, eh?
Oh, and one more thing. Here is a clip of the aforementioned Glass reacting to Alisson’s winner in the West Midlands- enjoy!
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Main Image Credits- Embed from Getty Images