And by ‘Premier League era’, I mean since 1992. Yes, that makes me a terrible person. Yes, football did exist before that time. But I simply cannot be bothered to document how terrible Shaun O’Shaughnessy’s goal in the Irish third division in 1962 was.
The list includes any goal scored by a team in the English top flight in any competition since 1992. I have omitted goals primarily based on keeper errors, because telling you how bad Massimo Taibi was gets tiresome before long. Thanks to the Mailbox for the idea…
10. Simeon Jackson (Wolves 2-2 NORWICH, 2011)
A goal so bad that, alas, a video of it cannot even be found on the internet. And you can find videos of anything on the internet. Anything.
Moving on as swiftly as you do when you delete your internet search history after someone asks to use the computer, it was in 2011, when Jackson scored within moments of coming on as a second-half substitute for Paul Lambert’s Norwich against Mick McCarthy’s Wolves. Two sides now in the Championship conjured up a memorable Premier League fixture people are still talking about today.
Why? Well, because of the nature of Jackson’s goal. The striker scored four goals in 35 top-flight appearances, but his first ever was his best ever. As Stuart James of The Guardian wrote in his match report from the game: ‘Yet it was Norwich that scored again, when Jackson tried to turn Steve Morison’s centre in with one foot but ended up putting it in with the other, his first and second touches since coming on.’
9. Laurent Koscielny (Burnley 0-1 ARSENAL, 2016)
It was not offside – okay, you’re still arguing about that. It was not handball – at least not by the official rules of the game. But it was definitely a quite terrible goal. Not only did Laurent Koscielny’s last-minute winner against Burnley earlier this month force the football world to describe Arsenal’s win as a ‘sign of champions’, but it was just an endearing ugly strike. From Theo Walcott managing to win a header in a congested penalty area, to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s attempt to claim the goal despite missing the ball completely, to Koscielny’s ability to miscue a volley so badly that it hit him in the arm, to the Burnley defender on the post inexplicably running to the edge of the area before witnessing a goal he would have been in the perfect position to prevent, it had absolutely everything.
8. Luka Modric (TOTTENHAM 3-1 Wigan, 2009)
Perhaps it is a little harsh to include Luka Modric’s goal for Tottenham in an FA Cup victory over Wigan in 2009 on a list of the worst goals in the Premier League era. Watching the replay, it is clear to see the ball does not simply hit the gifted Croatian and find the back of the net, but he adjusts himself to head the ball into the empty goal.
However, consider that the goal was so fortuitous that Modric felt it necessary to temporarily morph into Robbie Keane, and you realise that the man who would become a Galactico must have been trying to hide his guilt at scoring such a wonderfully terrible goal.
7. Darren Bent (SUNDERLAND 1-0 Liverpool, 2009)
“It was me. I’m the one who did it. I’m the one caught on camera. I’m so, so sorry. This is my worst, worst nightmare.”
When Callum Campbell threw a beach ball onto the Stadium of Light pitch during a Premier League game in October 2009, he did not think of the consequences. He did not think he would be explaining his actions ten days later in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mirror, nor that he would be cast as the sole villain in Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Sunderland. He did not expect to receive death threats, and he did not intend to overshadow the grand occasion that was Jay Spearing’s Premier League debut. But, alas, the then 16-year-old fan was branded as the man responsible for one of the most bizarre goals in the competition’s history. Not the referee for failing to disallow the strike, nor the Liverpool players for being so terrible that they couldn’t score themselves. No, this was Campbell’s fault.
Football is so weird.
6. Thierry Henry (ARSENAL 4-1 Fulham, 2002)
When you think of Arsenal in the early years of this Millennium, you think of flowing football, intricate passing, unstoppable counter-attacks and a buoyant Gunnersaurus. When you think of Thierry Henry at Arsenal, you think of immense skill, incredible pace, an innate ability to score almost every single one of his goals by opening up his body and curling the ball low into the far corner, and an excitable Gunnersaurus.
Why Arsenal opted to unveil a statue of Henry celebrating one of his wonderful strikes against Tottenham is unknown, particularly when they had the option of choosing to immortalise his effort against Fulham in 2002. Starting the attack, the Frenchman laid the ball off to Pires, who crossed for Lauren at the back post. The Cameroonian nodded the ball back into the area, with a bemused Henry the beneficiary as he inadvertently bundled the ball in with his shin. Gunnersaurus, fun-loving connoisseur of the beautiful game that he is, observed his own minute’s silence later that evening.
5. Peter Crouch (LIVERPOOL 3-0 Wigan, 2005)
In 2005, and in the months following Liverpool’s remarkable Champions League triumph in Istanbul the previous May, the Peter Crouch goal drought was a thing. As any European champion should, the Reds used their new-found pulling power to lure some of the greatest feet for a big man ever seen in the modern game to Anfield.
Unfortunately, the England forward struggled at first. He did not score in his first 18 games for his new club, and suffered abuse at the hands of not only opposing fans, but his own. Not Liverpool supporters, mind, but ones on the international scene. He was booed when he came on as a substitute for his country against Poland, and admitted he was “taken aback” and “shocked” to be made a mockery of by the England faithful.
It was not until December 3 that Crouch finally broke his duck. It was not an assured finish at the end of a delightful move, nor was it an excellent individual effort. No, the large man’s first Liverpool goal came courtesy of a quite ridiculous deflection that Wigan goalkeeper Mike Pollitt then bundled into his own goal. Crouch celebrated; Liverpool celebrated; the dubious goals panel celebrated, although probably a little too much, as they credited him with the effort. The following year, he would score a post-war record 11 England goals to further silence those critics.
4. Darius Vassell (Sunderland 1-2 MANCHESTER CITY, 2008)
Look up the word ‘Scuffed’ in the dictionary, and beneath you will find Darius Vassell’s match-winning strike against Sunderland in 2008. Some players, when presented with a one-on-one, will use power to beat the goalkeeper. Others will use precision, placing the ball beyond their reach. Some will opt for a deft chip, and some will feign a shot first, tricking everyone before scoring. Darius Vassell will swing wildly, miskick the ball into the ground and watch it trickle into the net, before wheeling away in celebration as if it was all part of his master plan.
3. Tomas Brolin (Sheffield Wednesday 6-2 LEEDS, 1995)
The chances are that you have seen this goal without even realising. Just imagine Nick Hancock, Danny Baker or Vinnie Jones narrating over the top of the clip, and you will recall watching a video of ‘Football’s Funniest Moments’ that your grandmother bought you for the fifth consecutive Christmas.
Tomas Brolin, to this day, is remembered for two things in England: Forming a bizarre management pairing alongside Attilio Lombardo at Crystal Palace, and being really sh*t for Leeds. He scored four goals during his stay in the Premier League, but none encapsulated his stay in England quite like his goal against Sheffield Wednesday in 1995. That it came in a 6-2 defeat somehow captured his essence perfectly.
2. Javier Hernandez (MANCHESTER UNITED 3-0 Chelsea, 2010)
The year was 2010. Chelsea had just won the Premier League, beating Manchester United by a solitary point. Attention turned to Old Trafford, and what signings Sir Alex Ferguson would make to improve his side. He bought four players the following summer. Chris Smalling arrived from Fulham, while Marnick Vermijl was purchased from Standard Liege. Two strikers were also signed, neither of whom were instantly recognisable names.
In terms of the paths both players took after joining United in summer 2010, Javier Hernandez and Bebe could hardly have been any more different. The former carved out a reputation as a dangerous forward and a welcome option adored by fans. The latter simply did not belong.
But the chasm in class between the two was not immediately evident. One certainly would not have been able to predict their respective career trajectories following Hernandez’s official debut. The Mexican scored some excellent goals and some memorable goals during his five years at United, but his first was quite something. Few players can ever claim to have headed in their own shot.
1. Dirk Kuyt (LIVERPOOL 3-1 Manchester United, 2011)
Never mind the worst goal in the Premier League era, Dirk Kuyt can lay claim to perhaps the worst trio of goals in recent memory.
Kuyt assured himself a place in pub quiz history when he netted one of only four hat-tricks to ever be scored against Manchester United in the Premier League in 2011. In a fixture which marked Luis Suarez’s first against the Reds’ bitter rivals, as well as the first league meeting between managers Kenny Dalglish and Sir Alex Ferguson in over a decade, it was Kuyt who stole the headlines.
All three of his goals in a 3-1 Premier League victory were scored from a combined distance of no more than ten yards out. My personal favourite is his first. Suarez’s brilliant work in the penalty area forced the goal and would likely have crossed the line, but Kuyt, presented with an open goal, opted to sidefoot the ball carefully into the corner, as if it were a match-winning penalty. Delightful.