Every footballer harbours dreams of becoming a legend. Winning the FIFA World Cup™ usually ensures that kind of status but there are other ways of making an indelible mark on the history of the game. Several players, for example, have given their names to a sublime array of moves, tricks and shots that continue to amaze and delight football lovers all over the globe.
Perhaps the best-known of all was bequeathed to the game by Antonin Panenka some thirty years ago on a famous evening in Belgrade. The final of the 1976 UEFA European Football Championship between Czechoslovakia and West Germany had gone to penalties when a fateful miss by Uli Hoeness gave the moustachioed Czech midfielder the chance to seal victory for his side. As he ran up to take the kick, Panenka shaped as if to drive it hard before producing a delightful chip that completely deceived Sepp Maier. Having already dived to his left, the German keeper was powerless to prevent the ball from sailing gracefully into the back of the net.
The audacious spot-kick gave the Czechs their first ever international title, introduced Panenka's sublime gifts to the world and spawned a new word in the football lexicon. Three decades on, the man behind the goal is still fiercely proud of his feat. "I'm delighted I made a mark," he commented. "I gave my name to that type of penalty and it made me famous in Europe. That said, I feel a lot of other great games I played have been forgotten because of that goal," he adds with a regretful smile.
Eleven years on it was the turn of another Bayern Munich goalkeeper, the Belgian Jean-Marie Pfaff, to witness a match-turning piece of skill at first hand. Leading 1-0 in the final of the 1987 UEFA European Champion Clubs' Cup against Portuguese giants FC Porto, the Bavarians were only 15 minutes from victory when Rabah Madjer ensured his place in football folklore with a delicious back-heeled finish from a Paulo Futre cross. Not content with creating the 'Madjer back-heel', the Algerian followed up his party trick by laying on the winner for Juary Filho just three minutes later.
Brazil has provided more than its fair share of footballing magicians over the years, but there is one wizard who stands out on his own. Few players have given so much pleasure by making opponents look foolish as Pele. Unlike Panenka and Madjer, O Rei may not have given his name to a particular type of finish, but two outrageous pieces of skill from his virtuoso performances at Mexico 1970 will forever be associated with him, even though, somewhat ironically, he narrowly failed to score on both occasions. The first of them was an incredible chip from the centre circle against Czechoslovakia, followed by an amazing dummy that completely deceived Uruguay keeper Ladislao Masurkiewicz; two unbelievable passages of play that left the watching world barely able to believe what it had seen.
The modern-day game has given us a worthy successor to Pele in Ronaldinho. An out-and-out playmaker and unrivalled technician, the Barcelona sorcerer seems to concoct incredible tricks, flicks and feints with staggering ease, among them his trademark blind pass, executed while looking one way and playing the ball to a team-mate in the opposite direction, wrong-footing unsuspecting defenders in the process.
When the hugely talented Brazilian uses his back to control a long throw-out from his keeper, opponents can do little else but admire his genius. After unveiling this ingenious back flick against Espanyol in 2003/2004, Ronaldinho used it again a couple of seasons later to set up a Ludovic Giuly goal against Osasuna, and in homage to the man it has now been dubbed the "espaldinha" (espalda means "back" in Spanish).
The 2002 FIFA World Cup™ winner's repertoire also includes his world-famous "elastic dribble", in which he switches control of the ball from the outside of his foot to the instep in the blink of an eye. And although invented by Rubens, it’s another Brazilian legend that the ever-modest ‘Ronnie’ applauds as its pioneer. "Roberto Rivelino was the first player I saw do it," he says. "But when I started trying it, it came naturally to me. Your foot has to be in contact with the ball all the time for it to work, and you need to be one-on-one against a defender and have plenty of space to get round him." Sounds easy, doesn't it?
Made in Marseilles
Over the last 15 years one man has epitomised French footballing talent. In a staggeringly successful career at club and international level Zinedine Zidane has produced precision passes, legendary goals and balletic pirouettes with deceptive ease.
Apart from contesting two FIFA World Cup Finals and being named the player of the tournament at Germany 2006, the gifted playmaker will forever be remembered for his ingenious 360-degree turn, a mesmerising spinning movement executed at speed and designed to take close markers out of the game while retaining complete control of the ball. It is a move that 'Zizou' has made his very own and one that has been affectionately dubbed the "Marseilles turn" by his countrymen in reference to the recently retired midfielder's home town.
Marseilles is also famous for coining another expression that has made its way into footballing terminology. Back in the late 80s and early 90s the diminutive Olympique Marseille and France striker Jean-Pierre Papin forged a reputation for scoring impossible goals from all angles. Such was the impact of his goalscoring antics that an acrobatic volley is still widely referred to in French football as a "papinade".
The history of the game is littered with many other examples of the creative genius of great players, from Marco van Basten's classical volley to Cuauhtemoc Blanco's "bunny hop", and from Bruce Grobbelaar's wobbly knees to Fernando Redondo's unique backheeled nutmeg. There are some players, though, who would be happy not to feature on the illustrious yet sometimes cruel list of footballing terms, Luis Arconada among them. It was the former Spain keeper who allowed Michel Platini's free-kick to squirm under his body and over the line in the final of the 1984 UEFA European Championship, and some 20 years on this goalkeeping howler is still known on the old continent as an 'Arconada'.
Yet, perhaps the final mention should go to Johan Cruijff, the disciple of Rinus Michel's 'Total Football' style of play, made famous by the Netherlands' national team during the 1970's. The 'Cruijff Turn' was a move where the famous No14 would look to pass or cross the ball. However, instead of kicking it, he would drag the ball behind his planted foot with the inside of his other foot and dribble away, escaping the attentions of his marker.
It's been a move copied by some of the world's leading players, not to mention by others on football pitches around the world - with varying degrees of success!