Since it began in 1930, there have been hundreds of fantastic goals scored in the qualifying stages and in the actual finals themselves. But when it comes to the best of the best, they’re scored in the biggest games. And there isn’t a bigger game than the FIFA World Cup Final, a game where the two best national teams come together to fight for football’s greatest prize.
The World Cup Final has seen the best players ever to grace the planet, from Pele to Lionel Messi but it takes a special goal to score in a game of such great gratitude. Players have become national heroes for a goal in the World Cup Final that brings endless joy to a whole country. Mario Götze is the most recent example of this, his dramatic extra-time winner against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup Final has given him god-like status in his home country, Germany.
5. Mario Götze vs Argentina, 2014
Mario Götze’s 113th minute World Cup winning volley is where we start the list. The game had been 0-0 after 90 minutes and Gonzalo Higuaín had squandered a glorious chance in normal time that should’ve seen him win the World Cup for his country. Benedikt Howedes came the closest as the goalpost stood in the way of his bullet header from a first-half corner. At the young age of 22, Mario Götze didn’t start the game, but his chance came late on in regulation time as he was brought on for World Cup hero, Miroslav Klose, in the 88th minute.
When he was brought on, Joachim Lowe said to Mario Götze, “go out there and win the World Cup” and he obeyed his manager’s demand. As Andre Schürrle burst away down the left-wing, Götze made his run into the box and Schürrle’s hooked left-footed cross found him perfectly. The youngster cushioned the ball down on his chest and rifled a left-footed volley past a helpless Sergio Romero, making the first ever substitute to score in the World Cup Final. Argentina didn’t have time to respond and Germany went on to win their fourth FIFA World Cup title.
4. Andres Iniesta vs Netherlands, 2010
Four years earlier, it was another extra-time winner that decided the destination of the World Cup trophy and, like 2014, it came after a goalless 90-minute affair this time between Spain and Netherlands. It had been a very dirty game and ended with 14 yellow cards, the record for the most bookings in a World Cup Final, the one given to Nigel De Jong judged by many to have deserved an instant red card. John Heitinga of Netherlands received two bookings and was sent off in the 109th minute, a decision which left his country short going into the final ten minutes.
This proved costly as Spain ignited a speedy counter-attack where Jesus Navas slid the ball into the feet of Cesc Fabregas. Fabregas then glided past two defenders and coolly slotted the ball through to Andres Iniesta. The Barcelona man took a touch to set himself up and then powered a beautiful half-volley past Maarten Stekelenburg, who despite his best efforts didn’t get near it. The goal turned out to be the winner and the World Cup was lifted by Iker Casillas.
3. Geoff Hurst vs West Germany, 1966
A game that brought England, the nation that created the game of football, their first and only World Cup trophy. A certain Geoff Hurst stole the show as West Germany lost out, once again, in extra-time. Hurst remains the only player to ever score a hat-trick in World Cup Final history and although one goal created much controversy as to whether it had crossed the line, it was later confirmed that it had in fact crossed.
Geoff Hurst’s third goal certainly crossed the line. England captain and legend, Bobby Moore, picked out his West Ham team-mate with a 60-yard pass and as many England fans ran onto the pitch thinking the game was over, Hurst fired the ball right into the top left corner of Hans Tilkowski’s net. He raced into Germany’s box and smashed the ball left-footed right into the roof of the net. This provoked one of the most iconic commentator quotes of all-time from Kenneth Wolstenholme as he said “They think it’s all over… it is now!” as Hurst’s shot rippled the back of the net.
2. Carlos Alberto vs Italy, 1970
A Pele-inspired Brazil team picked up their fourth World Cup trophy in their last four attempts, a stat that has never been (and probably never will be) matched by another nation. They ran out 4-1 winners over a very strong Italy side but, as the score line suggests, they truly outclassed their opponents which was something Brazil had a habit of doing in the big games. However, it was the fourth goal that showed just how good they really were.
The game was already won, but in the 86th minute Brazil knew they still had some magic left up their sleeves and this goal was so magical that it was voted as the most beautiful goal in FIFA World Cup history. Tostao, a striker, picked the ball up in the left-back and took on four Italian players without challenge, the ball then found its way to Pele. The greatest player in World Cup history then rolled the ball out wide to Carlos Alberto, who drilled an unstoppable right-footed shot across Enrico Albertosi’s goal right into the bottom corner.
1. Marco Tardelli vs West Germany, 1982
The scene was the Santiago Bernabeu, in the Spanish capital of Madrid and the two finalists certainly weren’t new to World Cup Finals, Italy and West Germany had both won two World Cups going into this final. It was Italy who won their third, which tied them level with Brazil as the nations with the most World Cup trophies, both with 3. They managed to win the game 3-1 and it was Italy’s second goal that tops this list as the greatest goal in a World Cup Final.
Italy raced forward on the break after a Germany attack was well-defused by the Italy defensive line and it was in fact their sweeper, Gaetano Scirea, who was the orchestrator of the attack. His powerful run ended up with him laying off the ball for Marco Tardelli. The ball was slightly short for the Juventus midfielder so he took a touch away from his body and was at full stretch as he struck his left foot through the ball. About 20 yards from goal with the ball on his favoured left-foot, his thunderous effort left Harald Schumacher completely routed to the spot on the edge of his six-yard box. His emotional celebration has gone down in history as the “Tardelli cry” as he sprinted towards the Italy bench in floods of tears! That is the definition of patriotism.