10 of the best headers in recent football

Parth Shah

Author : Parth Shah


A perfectly timed header is right at the top of the list of beautiful things in football. Fans always assume that every footballer should be great at heading the ball and scoring goals, but sometimes it is not that simple.

For a headed goal, a lot of things have to happen perfectly – a great delivery, a timely jump and perfect contact with the head. Scoring a header is not as easy as it looks, as the players below will demonstrate.

10. Fernando Torres vs Aston Villa, EPL 2012

An odd choice perhaps, and many of you might question why this is a great goal. But the more you look at this goal, the more you realize that it is a very difficult header made to look very simple.

Why is this a great headed goal?

Torres is the only real threat in the box for the four Villa defenders, so the Spaniard is seriously outnumbered. Next, as you can see from the start of the video, Torres is asking for the ball behind the defenders, but the cross is too short to reach him.

So Torres changes his run, runs ahead of the defender, jumps earlier and higher and gets his header on target from just inside the box. The power and neck muscles required for this goal puts it at no. 10 on our list.


9. Steven Gerrard vs AC Milan, 2005 Champions League Final

A great leap and a good finish gets Steven Gerrard into our list. The importance of the goal in the context of the match cannot be underestimated.

Why is this a great headed goal?

For set-pieces, Gerrard usually prefers to stand on the edge of the box so he can use his excellent long-range scoring skills to put the rebound away.

But here, Gerrard decides to get into the box, outjump the AC Milan defense (no mean feat) and direct the header expertly past one of the best goalkeepers of that time, Dida. The header itself is not powerful, but the direction of the header meant Dida had no chance.

The goal also prompted a remarkable comeback by Liverpool, and that is why it is a great goal.

(Move to 4:08 to see Gerrard’s goal)

8. Henrik Larsson vs Bulgaria, Euro 2004

A fantastic diving header in a crucial Euro 2004 match ensures Larsson’s presence in our list of great headers.

Why is this a great headed goal?

Before the competition started, Larsson had actually announced his international retirement and wasn’t expected to turn out for Sweden. But public opinion swayed his decision, and Larsson made his comeback in this very game against the Bulgarians.

He then proceeded to score a sensational diving header which was voted as the best goal of Euro 2004.


7. Javier Hernandez vs Chelsea, EPL 2012-13

Javier Hernandez has a knack of scoring outrageous headers, and this is certainly one of them. His first appearance on out list of great headers, with one more to follow.

Why is this a great headed goal?

For starters, the awareness to stay on the blind side of the two centrebacks and clear space for a run into the box is of a very high order. Although it is a breathtaking ball from Carrick, the fact that Hernandez remained committed to his run and then scored from such a difficult position makes the goal even more special.

A big leap, brilliant contact and direction – a great header from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez

6) Javier Hernandez vs Stoke, EPL 2012

The Mexican’s backheader against Stoke is one of the most ingenious things seen on a football field! For that, he deserves another entry in this list of great headers.

Why is this a great headed goal?

It might seem like a fluke, but Hernandez has every intention of scoring here, and even though the ball is behind him, somehow he manages to flick his head on to it. There is absolutely no pace on the ball, and it’s the Stoke defense that Hernandez is up against, so credit where it’s due. A spur-of-the-moment finish that will be remembered for years to come.


5) Luis Garcia’s back-to-the-goal strike

There was a time when Liverpool striker Luis Garcia was known to be a better header of the ball than his strike partner Peter Crouch! In fact, one would go as far as to say that Garcia was better in the air than the 6″7′ Peter Crouch.

Why is this a great headed goal?

Garcia is running towards the ball and away from goal, with a defender right on his tail. From a low cross into the box, Garcia somehow manages to get his head on it and flick it with enough power and direction to beat the keeper. It’s a stunning piece of improvisation, and a great header.


4) Cristiano Ronaldo vs AS Roma, Champions League 2007

One of the most powerful headers that you will ever see, and it came against a Roma defense that was hailed as one of the best ever. An unstoppable strike from an unstoppable player!

Why is this a great headed goal?

If you watch the goal carefully, you will notice Ronaldo isn’t even in the box when the ball is about to be delivered by Scholes. In fact, Ronaldo seems to appear out of nowhere to head a ball that is simply looping into the box with little or no pace on it. His late run and great leap takes the defense by surprise and the emphatic header knocks the defender off his feet.


3) Martin Palermo’s 40-yard header

That’s right. Martin Palermo, playing for Boca Juniors, scored a header from 40 yards out!

Why is this a great headed goal?

Just look at it! The keeper clears the ball with force, and Palermo uses his insanely strong neck muscles to direct the ball back between the posts from a full 40 yards out. That requires serious guts and focus, and it rightfully hailed as a great header.

Fun fact: This was Palermo’s 200th goal in the Argentine first division, a wonderful way to remember a special occasion.

2) Papiss Cisse’s wonder header from outside the box, AFCON qualifiers 2013

Papiss Cisse is best remembered for his mind-numbing swerving strike against Chelsea, and this header is equally impossible to fathom.

Why is this a great headed goal?

Cisse is running towards the goal and the ball is also travelling in the same direction. Unlike most headers, where a striker simply deflects the ball from its original trajectory, here Cisse has to force the ball to keep moving in the same direction and impart enough power on it from outside the box to beat the keeper.

A magnificent goal, and, for me, better than the one against Chelsea.


1) Jared Borgetti’s wonder header vs Italy, 2002 World Cup

And here it is. The undisputed number 1 header in recent football. Jared Borgetti’s header leaves you speechless even after multiple viewings, and the jury is still out on how he actually scored this goal.

Why is this a great headed goal?

Borgetti runs towards the ball, pirouettes, imparts enough spin on the ball to curl it into the far post and beats the keeper from an impossible angle. If this is not the greatest header in recent times, then I don’t know what is.