It’s true, modern footballers are mollycoddled - what with agents sorting their contracts, sponsors picking their wardrobe and the kit man washing their Y-fronts (probably). But, on the rare, hilarious occasion where a player gets in a right old tizz and sprays the ball into their own net - there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. Well, except keep a living record of it on YouTube, that is, and allow the whole world to point and laugh at a millionaire footballer looking an utter plonker.
Here are 10 such moments for you to enjoy. Silly, silly footballers - what are they like?
1. Tony Popovic (Crystal Palace v Portsmouth)
With an effort that would’ve been a shoo-in for goal of the season had it been up the other end, Crystal Palace’s Aussie bruiser Tony Popovic’s response to a Pompey cross was a nugget of flair that Ronaldo or Messi could only dream of. So good it was, he probably should’ve celebrated. He didn’t, and Palace were later relegated.
2. Djimi Traore (Liverpool v Burnley)
A man who could well be the epitome of the phrase ‘from the sublime to the ridiculous’, Djimi Traore owns both a Champions League medal for Liverpool, as well as the unwanted title of scoring one of the silkiest OGs in FA Cup history (above). A few years later he was at it again - at the right end this time, thank Christ - with a world class effort for Seattle Sounders.
3. Chris Brass (Bury v Darlington)
A lower-league journeyman turned viral legend, Chris Brass had what can best be summed up as a bad day at the office for Bury in 2006, when he managed to concede an own goal and break his nose in one swift movement. His pride probably wasn’t in the best shape after, either.
4. Festus Baise (Citizen AA v Sun Hei)
Quite possibly the greatest goal ever scored - regardless of which net it ended up in - Festus Baise thought it appropriate to defend an incoming ball with an acrobatic reverse scorpion kick. We don’t know what he was thinking, but to be perfectly honest, we don’t care. We’re just glad it happened.
5. Jamie Pollock (Manchester City v QPR)
Hey kids, remember when moneybags Man City were total crap? Jamie Pollock does. With City scrapping with QPR to avoid being relegated to the third tier of English football in 1998, Pollock popped up with a finish that any striker in the world would be glad to call his own - but somehow wasn’t that happy about it. It may be because the game finished 2-2 and City were promptly relegated. Still, he was later voted ‘The most influential man of the last 2,000 years’ by QPR fans, beating Jesus to the top spot. So, every cloud…
6. Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal v Cologne)
For Arsenal right-backs, smashing home spectacular own goals comes with the territory. Or so it would seem, anyway. Just ask Lee Dixon (see later), Lauren or indeed wee Carl Jenkinson, who thought he’d join his predecessors with a stadium-sized clanger, just one month into his Arsenal career, during a friendly against Cologne in 2011. Don’t worry too much Carl, friendlies aren’t always the best indicator of a player’s worth - the ‘mighty’ Gervinho scored twice in the very same game, and then proceeding to do naff all for the rest of his Gunners career.
7. Gary Sprake (Leeds v Liverpool)
A man famed for touchline heroics followed up with cringeworthy blunders years before Heurelho Gomes was even born, Gary Sprake was the flawed genius of Don Revie’s fierce Leeds United team. But for all his goal-line wizardry, Leeds fans and foes alike all remember him for one particularly ridiculous moment. No, not wearing a baseball cap between the sticks, but this incomprehensible ‘pass’ to his defence.
8. Clamoroso (Delta Porto Tolle vs. Ischia)
Granted, it’s safe to assume Serie D isn’t quite at the cutting edge of Italian football. But the brilliantly-named Clamoroso could do little about what appears to be an act of God during Della Porto Tolle’s encounter with Ischia. A football turned boomerang - his six-yard box strike went outfield and then ended up back in his net. You know you’re a dodgy football team when you can’t even get the wind to support you.
9. Jon Walters (Stoke v Chelsea)
Let us get one thing straight - Jon Walters is a good footballer. Honest. OK, he’s no Diego Maradona, but the former Stoke and Republic of Ireland international has netted 117 times in 569 appearances (at the time of writing). Well, 119 times, if you count these two goals for Chelsea in January 2013. The first - a diving header - was particularly fabulous. He had a chance to redeem himself in the same game, when Stoke were awarded a penalty. He hit the bar. Of course he did.
10. Gareth Bale (Tottenham v Liverpool)
Gareth Bale was, for a while, the world’s most expensive footballer. Gareth Bale is worth £85m pounds. But even Gareth Bale isn’t immune from the on-pitch ignominy of an own goal. The usually ice cool Welshman was left red-faced in the most literal sense against Liverpool in 2012, when Aaron Lennon’s goal-line clearance hit him square in the chops and rolled in the Spurs net.
11. Andrea Consigli (Sassuolo v Fiorentina)
With most of the other goals on this list, you can at least figure out what the player in question was trying to do. We’ve watched Sassuolo goalkeeper Consigli stroke the ball into his own net dozens of times and have been left none the wiser on each occasion – it almost feels like a real-life glitch. Still funny, though.
12. Inigo Martinez (Spain U-21 v Georgia)
There’s no ‘good’ time to score a spectacular own goal, but you’d certainly prefer for it to happen when your team is already 6-0 up. We really hope the Georgia goalkeeper tried claiming this one – after all, his clearance might have *technically* been on target before the Athletic Club defender intervened. If Harry Kane can claim a goal after not touching the ball, the Georgian would be entirely within his rights.
13. Thomas James (Yeovil Town v Notts County)
When you’re a young footballer trying to make it in the game, your coach will always tell you to go whole-hearted into challenges. It’s not worth going for the ball at all if you’re not going for it fully and making proper contact. Of course, as you can see 58 seconds into the clip above, that can sometimes result in you slamming the ball past your own goalkeeper – swings and roundabouts.
14. Lee Dixon (Arsenal v Coventry City)
You might be forgiven for thinking Lee Dixon did this on purpose, such was the accuracy of the chip he sent over the head of David Seaman. However, if you’d seen Dixon in his pomp, you’d know he wasn’t capable of something so full of flair at either end of the pitch. Give him the ball in the same spot 100 times and he’ll struggle to even put it on target.
15. Adrien Gulfo (Pully Football v FC Resnes)
Just because someone plays in defence doesn’t mean they’re incapable of acrobatics, and Swiss defender Adrien Gulfo wanted to prove just that in a Swiss lower-league game. His connection was sweet enough, if a little scuffed, but his sense of direction was… not quite what you’d hope for. And we thought the Swiss were known for their timing.
16. Yasser Abdullah (Al-Dhafra v Al-Jazira)
Lovely knockdown, delightful first time finish… wait, why isn’t he celebrating? Oh, right. Emirati defender Yaser Abdullah won’t score a better goal than this in his career, which makes it really inconvenient that it gave opponents Al-Jazira the lead in an eventual 3-1 win. We’d actually recommend strikers watch his technique - especially colourblind strikers who won’t be able to tell it’s an own goal.
17. Santiago Vergini (Sunderland v Southampton)
Before Sunderland played Southampton in October 2014, they had lost just once in their first seven league games and conceded just seven goals. They must have got bored – we can’t find another way to explain them shipping eight goals to the Saints, including two own goals. Vergini never scored at the right end for Sunderland, but this bullet of a volley suggests they might have been wise to throw him up front at least once.