"A penalty is a coward’s way to score a goal," the legendary Pele once said. And at the other end of the scale, there are goals every year that make fans’ jaws drop the world over.
Every so often, there will come a strike that even has opposition supporters applauding, in the knowledge that they have been in the presence of greatness. Some of them live long in the memories and are replayed over and over again. 2019 had its share of memorable goals which may still have fans waxing lyrical about them in decades to come.
As we prepare to ring in the New Year at FIFA.com, we have picked out some of the greatest goals from 2019. There is something in this selection for everyone, so sit back and enjoy.
Daniel Zsori (Debrecen) versus Ferencvaros: 16 February
We begin our review with the winner of the FIFA Puskás Award 2019. On his debut for Debrecen in Hungary’s top league, it took him just ten minutes after coming on as a substitute to draw his side level (1-1) against high-flying Ferencvaros. "Adam Bodi crossed the ball into the box and I thought: 'I might as well have a go!' I’d seen Cristiano Ronaldo hit the ball like this and I’d practised it in training a lot. As the ball flew towards the net, I held my breath for a moment." But don’t just take the goalscorer’s word for it – see for yourself…
Jose Cifuentes (Ecuador) versus USA: 8 June
At the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019™, Ecuador’s Jose Cifuentes’ strike was voted goal of the tournament. The South American youngster took a deep breath and gave it all he had from long range, with his shot hitting the back of the net like a bullet.
Cristiane (Brazil) versus Australia: 13 June
Headers are all about timing, and Brazil’s Cristiane showed exactly how to convert a cross at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™. The forward outjumped her marker and placed the ball in exactly the right spot just inside the post, earning her the admiration of fans who voted it Hyundai Goal of the Tournament.
Wayne Rooney (DC United) versus Orlando City: 27 June
Wayne Rooney took aim from a good ten paces short of the half-way line but still managed to find the target. The official statistics say that the shot came from 64 metres out, with the icing on the cake being that it earned all three points in his team’s 1-0 Major League Soccer win over Orlando City.
Radja Nainggolan (Cagliari) versus SPAL: 20 October
Boom! Belgium’s Radja Nainggolan scored a scorcher in this Serie A match. Picking up the ball from a short pass around 25 yards from the opposition’s goal, the midfielder launched a stunning half-volley that fizzed across the area and into the top-left corner.
Santiago Munoz (Mexico) versus Japan: 6 November
Mexico’s Santiago Munoz did it all in this memorable passage of play in his team’s FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 match against Japan – a precise dribble, a drop of the shoulder and a perfect finish. The fleet-footed forward left defenders in his wake and concluded his mazy run by firing home from the edge of the area. This was another strike that was voted goal of the tournament by the fans.
Emmanuele Zurlo (Italy) versus Switzerland: 28 November
Beaches were made for overhead kicks. A team-mate fed Emmanuele Zurlo with a back-heel, and although the Italian had a defender on his back, he still managed to juggle with the ball before firing it home with a bicycle kick par excellence. Fans unsurprisingly also picked this gem as goal of the tournament at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019.
Luis Suarez (Barcelona) versus Mallorca: 7 December
Half-time between Barcelona and RCD Mallorca was just two minutes away when the Catalans passed their way through their opponent’s area like a knife through butter, and the move was beautifully rounded off by Luis Suarez with an audacious back-heel.
Son Heungmin (Tottenham Hotspur) versus Burnley: 7 December
Heung-min Son picked up the ball deep in his own half and then simply decided to head for goal. The Korean international put the pedal to the metal, leaving the opposition grasping at thin air. Once clear and within range, he kept his cool and gave the goalkeeper no chance. One of the best solo efforts seen in a long time.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) versus Sampdoria: 18 December
There’s good, there’s very good and then there’s Cristiano Ronaldo. It is a truth universally acknowledged that CR7 is an incredible footballer and athlete, but this goal in Juventus’ Serie A match versus Sampdoria proved just how incredible the Portuguese legend actually is. His elevation and timing made this goal an illustration of the perfect header.