Was Wayne Rooney’s Halfway Line Goal the Best in Premier League History?
The Everton forward has joined an exclusive club of players to have scored from inside his own half. But where does it rank compared to David Beckham, Charlie Adam and the rest?
David Beckham, Paul Robinson, Tim Howard, Charlie Adam, Maynor Figueroa and Wayne Rooney (x2) – the list of players to have scored goals from the halfway line in the Premier League is an exclusive club. But which one was the best?
We rank each goal in order:
1. Wayne Rooney – Everton v West Ham United, November 29, 2017
“I’ve never struck a football better in my life,” Rooney admitted after his first-time effort flew over the stranded West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart to seal his hat-trick in the 4-0 win on Wednesday. With the ball traveling at a rate of knots from Hart’s clearance, the technique shown by the former England captain to make such a clean connection with his laces and propel the ball at the perfect trajectory to take it over the despairing jumps of Winston Reid and Cheikhou Kouyaté certainly takes some beating. Rooney knew it was in from the moment he made contact, while the look of panic on Hart’s face when he realized who the ball was heading directly towards told its own story.
Distance: 61 yards
2. Charlie Adam – Chelsea v Stoke City, April 4, 2015
Having already scored from a similar position in a reserve‑team game for Blackpool against Accrington in 2009, Adam had no qualms about trying again on a much bigger stage six years later. With Stoke trailing Chelsea after only nine minutes had been played, the Scotland international was passed the ball by Jon Walters midway in his own half and took two touches before unleashing a powerful strike with his trademark left foot. The ball flew in a straight line over Thibault Courtois, with the Chelsea goalkeeper’s last-ditch attempt to push it over the bar in vain. “Let’s not forget that when Pelé tried that, he missed,” tweeted the comedian David Baddiel of the longest-distance strike to be scored by an outfield player in the Premier League.
Distance: 66 yards
3. Maynor Figueroa – Stoke City v Wigan Athletic, December 2009
A goal that probably has not been given the credit it deserves. A few weeks after they had been thrashed 9-1 at White Hart Lane, Wigan arrived in the Potteries looking to end a dismal run of away form. They went drawing 1-1 just after the break when Figueroa – the Honduran left-back who spent five years in Lancashire – spotted his opportunity after his side were awarded a free-kick. With the ball a few yards inside his own half, Figueroa surprised everyone by taking it quickly, sending the ball on a flat trajectory over Thomas Sorenson and into the corner of the net. It was eventually chosen as Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season.
Distance: 60 yards
4. Xabi Alonso – Liverpool v Newcastle United, September 20, 2006
Previously the holder of the longest-distance goal until Adam came along, the Spain midfielder also had previous form. Alonso’s stunning strike from inside his own half had capped off an FA Cup victory against Luton Town in January 2006 so Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper should really have been wary nine months later. After casually taking possession of the ball with a perfectly timed tackle, he maneuvered the ball onto his more favored right foot and launched a shot that left Harper stranded. “I was thinking of telling him off when he didn’t pass to Steven Gerrard who had made a good run forward,” Rafael Benítez admitted. “He practices it all the time.”
Distance: 63 yards
5. David Beckham – Wimbledon v Manchester United, August 17, 1996
According to Gary Neville, the goal that launched “Brand Beckham” was premeditated. “He practiced that in training every single day – striking the ball towards a goal from the halfway line,” said Neville. But that does not take away from its beauty. With United already winning 2-0 at Selhurst Park, Brian McClair played the ball into Beckham’s path, took a brief look up and proceeded to float the ball perfectly over Neil Sullivan in the Wimbledon goal. “I have never seen it done before,” admitted Sir Alex Ferguson afterwards, although Adam’s effort probably just trumps it.
Distance: 59 yards
6. Wayne Rooney – West Ham United v Manchester United, March 22, 2014
While the pedants may point out that this effort was struck from around 10 yards inside the West Ham half, Rooney’s anticipation of what he was about to do began a few moments earlier. Ashley Young’s skied clearance was misjudged by James Tomkins, allowing the United forward to position his body in readiness for the ball to drop. With a swish of his right foot, the ball arced towards high the goal, catching goalkeeper Adrián unaware as it sailed over his head and into the net. It perhaps loses marks for landing just in front of the goal-line, although Rooney deserves credit for even attempting it.
Distance: 48 yards
7. Tim Howard/Paul Robinson/Asmir Begovic
The goalkeepers’ scoring club is even more exclusive than this one and the three to have managed it in the Premier League era deserve a mention. None can seriously claim to have intended to score, however, with the increasingly light footballs in use today perhaps an explanation for how they were possible. In terms of distance, Begovic’s effort from just outside his own six-yard box against Southampton in September 2014 was the furthest out and earned a place in the Guinness World Records book, although Robinson could claim to have been almost as far away for his goal from a free kick against Watford in 2007. Howard’s effort against Bolton in January 2012 owed much to the windy conditions on Merseyside that afternoon – a fact the American was keen to point out afterwards in solidarity with opposite number Adam Bogdan. “It was cruel,” he said. “You saw the back fours and the keepers not being able to believe balls all night, and at the back one wrong step and it can be a nightmare.”
Distance: 92 yards (Begovic)
The Guardian Sport