Sport

The top 10 England goals of all time

"Pick that one out", etc. etc.

As England eased to yet another straightforward qualification - which unfortunately also means we'll be no better versed in handling pressure situations once we get to France next year - Wayne Rooney drew level with Sir Bobby Charlton on 49 goals with a penalty against the giants of San Marino. As he bids to take the England goals crown in the victory lap of a match against Switzerland tonight, we've picked the 10 greatest England goals of all time - hopefully the Roondog can add to this list next summer.

Jack Wilshere vs Slovenia, 2015 

Flowing move? Cheeky back-heel? A net-busting finish? If only we played like this in the actual tournaments England might actually threaten to win something other than a wooden spoon.

Joe Cole vs Sweden, 2006

Fact for you: Joe Cole was selected in the England squad for three World Cups. Yes, three - astonishing feat considering he played about as many games for Liverpool in his injury-hit career. Cole’s finest World Cup moment came when scoring this stunning volley against Sweden in 2006, of which Ibra himself would have been proud.

Shearer vs Holland, 1996

Remember when, for one hot summer, England looked like the best team in the world? Scholes, Gazza and Shearer at the peak of their powers, crushing sides with a breed of fast-flowing powerful football even sides like Holland couldn’t deal with. Shearer’s second against the Dutch capped one of the best England tournament performances fans had ever witnessed. If he managed a hat-trick we imagine Alan Shearer would have been carried out of Wembley high on the shoulders of Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds.

Wayne Rooney vs Russia, 2007

Things looked rosy for Steve McLaren’s England when Rooney unleashed this whopping volley against Russia in 2007, putting the side in contention to qualify for the following year’s Euros. Perhaps it was the subsequent defeat, and utterly awful campaign as whole, why this goal remains one of Rooney’s most overlooked, but of his now 48 international goals, it’s arguably the best.

John Barnes vs Brazil, 1984

Waltzing through the Maracanã with the surefootedness of a mountain goat, you’d have been forgiven for thinking John Barnes wasn’t Brazilian as he gave the samba men a taste of their own medicine in this memorable friendly. Lucky for us he wasn’t.

Bobby Charlton vs Mexico, 1966

For grandstand glory, Geoff Hurt’s dubious winner is the most memorable goal of the World Cup-winning year of 1966; but in terms of pure technical skill and unswerving power, it was all about this stonker from Bobby Charlton against Mexico in an earlier game. We don’t blame the keeper for not stopping it, he would’ve ended up in the back of the net, too.

Gazza vs Scotland, 1996

The other Euro 96 classic here: Gazza’s masterclass goal and subsequent ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration near enough epitomised his character on the field and off it. Unpredictable, playful, controversial and hugely affable, it remains one of the all-time great Wembley moments, though someone might want to check on Colin Hendry. We fear he’s still in there stuck in the mud.

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David Platt vs Belgium, 1990

Platt, quite simply, had no right. Had the Yorkshireman done the mathematics as the ball came sailing over in a game vs Belgium at Italia 90, he’d have assessed his chances of scoring from this near-impossible angle as minute. As it was, catching it with a sweet hooked volley, it sailed in. Was Coronation Street’s David Platt, born in the same year, so-named after Platt’s heroics? You’d be a fool to say no.

Beckham vs Greece, 2001

Oh David Beckham, will free-kicks ever be struck as finely again? The answer is no. After curling one into Old Trafford net in the dying seconds vs Greece and booking England a place at Brazil’s 2002 World Cup, Golden Balls cemented his legend as an England player while reminding us all of his trademark talents. Though it later transpired that Teddy Sherringham was keen on taking it after Becks had constantly kept fluffing his lines. Thankfully, Becks overruled him.

Michael Owen vs Argentina, 1998

Remember when Michael Owen actually enjoyed playing football instead of using it to fund his racetrack habits? There were few better forwards: twinkle-toed, blistering, unforgiving finishing, baby-faced (all the good assassins are). And we’d bet you can remember where you stood as Owen’s mazy dribble against the old enemy Argentina resulted in this classic goal.

[Images: Rex]