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The Greatest Goals Of All Time Are Just Toe Pokes

You don’t ever work on your toe poke, admit it. It’s not a skill you frequently pull off after telling your mates which corner your about to put your shot in during warmups. You’d be called a child and laughed off the pitch, your ambitious toe punt looking nothing like a clean hit off the laces or a swerving effort with the instep. 

But contrary to accepted reasoning, the toe poke is actually the hallmark of a genius. Legends like Ronaldo, Romario, Ronaldinho, Andriy Shevchenko and Diego Maradona all had the infamous action down cold. 

While it’s instinctive nature will always give you the advantage in a goalmouth scramble, the remarkable suddenness with which it can be executed can also deceive keepers from distance. The ball is lashed so unexpectedly that it doesn’t even need to find the side-netting, keepers suddenly appear as sluggish and averse to getting down as the hungover 54-year-old in your rec league.

And that’s the true brilliance of the toe poke, it makes everyone around you look absolutely helpless while you appear to be otherworldly. If you don’t believe me, just check out these five glorious example from the School of the Toe.

Oscar vs. Croatia | 2014 World Cup

For Brazil, these were the best of times at the 2014 World Cup. Opening the tournament in Sao Paulo against Croatia, Brazilian’s could be forgiven for quickly forgetting about a contentious penalty decision that swung the game in their favor, because their third and final goal in the match was this one. 

Oscar dispatched this magical poke beyond Stipe Pletikosa before he could even scream foul play. This is a dirty one to kickstart our countdown.

Michael Bradley vs. Slovenia | 2010 World Cup

Forget whatever else, this is the finest moment in Michael Bradley’s career. The fact that it’s a toe poke is nothing to be ashamed of; it’s one of the most controlled, exquisitely taken pokes you’ll ever see. 

This moment of magic, resulting in a 82nd minute equalizer against Slovenia, also allowed for that Landon Donovan goal against Algeria in the following match.

Ronaldo vs. Turkey | 2002 World Cup

When we spoke of the power of the element of surprise in a toe poke, no goal highlights that quality more than this effort from Ronaldo in the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup.

It’s a piece of genius that only a Brazilian could conjure. This goal proved to be the difference in the match, bettering Turkish goalkeeper Rustu Recber who had been unbeatable in the tournament up until this point.

The toe poke: a goalkeeper's kryptonite.

Ronaldinho vs. Chelsea | 2005 Champions League

"Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa what/listen to it pound."

Widely considered one of the most arrogant strikes in the history of the Champions League, this toe punt from Ronaldinho resulted in a standing ovation from Chelsea's Stamford Bridge curmudgeons. 

It’s widely believed that this is the only toe poke to ever receive such an honor.

Diego Maradona vs. England | 1986 World Cup

When you think of this goal, the greatest goal ever scored in football history, you’re likely to think of the run preceding the finish. Yes, Diego beat the entire England team to score it, but without the instinctive finish of the poke, Maradona would’ve simply been clattered had he not utilized the Toe of God.

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