football

The worst (or best) own goals ever

December 26, 2017

- Grant Whittington

Own goals are perhaps the worst thing that can ever happen to a defender on a football field. If own goals were considered positive, Liverpool’s former centre-back Jamie Carragher would be described as prolific. Make no mistake, own goals can have a devastating impact on players and the clubs that they play for. In some cases, they can even define a footballer’s career in the short-term.

This is particularly true in the case of spectacular own goals, which are seemingly scored with the skill, technique and ability that makes fans swoon. Well, opposition fans.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the worst (or best) own goals of all-time, and see the impact they had.

1. Jamie Pollock, Manchester City vs. QPR (1998)

Before the days of billionaire owners and Pep Guardiola, Manchester City struggled to establish themselves as a Premier League team. In fact, by 1998 they were competing in Nationwide Division 1, and at the end of this season endured the humiliation of being relegated to the third tier of English football for the very first time.

This season is also memorable for Jamie Pollock’s own goal for the Citizens against fellow strugglers QPR, which all but sealed City’s relegation to the Second Division. A strike that was reminiscent of Matthew Le Tissier’s stunning solo goal against Newcastle in October 1993, Pollock’s baffling effort left the club 2-1 behind in a match that they needed to win to maintain control of their destiny. The game ultimately finished 2-2.

In a bid to cut out a speculative ball in from the right-wing, Pollock stretched and managed to expertly lift the ball over the head of QPR striker Mike Sheron, taking it into the penalty area as a result. As it dropped, he decided to cushion the ball back to his goalkeeper, only to watch in horror as he sent a looping header over a started Martyn Margetson and into the net.

Although it may not be a desirable way to be remembered, this is certainly the moment for which Jamie Pollock is most noted –  a goal that left City facing third-tier football for the first ever time!

2. Lee Dixon, Arsenal vs. Coventry City (1991)

Let’s start with a basic assertion – Lee Dixon was one of the finest right backs of the Premier League era. Part of Arsenal’s legendary back four under the stewardship of George Graham, Dixon also played in Arsene Wenger’s first great side and won multiple honours during his time at Highbury.

Even a player of his ability was prone to gaffes, however, and his own goal during an Arsenal-Coventry City match is arguably the most memorable.

Having collected an aimless long ball 30 yards from his own goal, Dixon took a couple of touches as he looked to launch a Gunners attack. With little movement in front of him, he decided to feed the ball back to Arsenal keeper David Seaman, without noticing that the England international had stepped forward off his line. Without a single glance over his shoulder, Dixon chipped the ball in the general area of his own goal and turned to make himself an option in possession.

Instead, he could only watch in horror as the ball sailed over Seaman’s head and into the empty net, stunning his teammates and Arsenal’s fans in the process.

The Gunners ended up losing the game 2-1 and they failed to defend their title and finished fourth in the top-flight. Both they and Dixon thankfully recovered from this aberration however, enjoying huge success throughout the remainder of the 1990s. It’s still an astonishing own goal, though.

3. Assaf Mendes, Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs. Dynamo Kiev (2012)

This hidden gem just happens to be our favourite own goal of all-time. It also reaffirms the value of playing goal kicks short in certain conditions!

This incredible twist of fate occurred during a practice game between Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Dynamo Kiev in 2012, which was played out in incredibly windy conditions in Israel. In fact, the playing conditions were so bad that both teams agreed to play for just 60 minutes prior to the game.

The incident occurred relatively early on, as Maccabi’s keeper Assaf Mendes prepared to take a goal kick from the edge of his six-yard box. The ball began to roll backwards as it was placed on the ground, so Mendes rushed to launch the ball into the opposition half. He was unknowingly kicking directly into heavy wind and could only watch as the ball sailed forward before suddenly being propelled back towards his goal.

Mendes was slow to react, startled as the ball looped back, bouncing in front of him and nestling in the corner of the net.

He probably couldn’t do this again if he tried, and why he tried to launch the ball so far forward in those conditions is anyone’s guess.

Still, it made Mendes a viral sensation, and afforded him a level of fame that he otherwise may never have achieved.

4. Santiago Vergini

Sunderland’s recent Premier League performances have been truly horrific, with last season’s debacle and relegation a relevant case in point. But no single recent display has been more pathetic than the 8-0 capitulation against Southampton at St. Marys in 2014/15, when Sunderland gave their fans a day out to forget on the South Coast.

Interestingly, this thrashing was kicked-off by Sunderland full back Santiago Vergini, who scored a truly bizarre own goal that was arguably the most composed finish of the whole game.

As the Saints pressed high in Sunderland’s half, they stole possession and looked to build with a neat one-two between Steven Davis and Graziano Pelle. The chance looked to have gone as the ball broke loose in the Sunderland box, however, as right back Vergini was seemingly well-placed to clear the danger. Instead, he inexplicably decided to play the ball in the direction of his own goal, somehow curling a superb finish beyond keeper Vito Mannone and into the bottom corner of the net.

Vergini probably didn’t want to clear on his weaker left foot, but this was a decision that came back to haunt him.

The own goal summed up Sunderland’s recent history in the Premier League too, which has often lurched from the bizarre to the utterly catastrophic.

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