The first of the top five selections relates to goals scored following a phenomenal first touch. I have a fairly woeful touch – not as bad as Devon White’s, but pretty bad – so all of the goals below are items of rare beauty in my eyes.
5. Antonio Cassano, Bari (v Inter)
First up is this outrageous effort from a young Antonio Cassano, beginning his career with a bang in Bari. Taking a difficult high ball perfectly in his stride, then breaking into the area to despatch the killer blow and defeat Inter. You can see why Roma paid £20m for a 19 year old. The first touch looks even better in the replays.
4. Johan Cruyff, Ajax
Watching this in slow motion you can see how deliberate Cruyff’s first touch is. The spatial awareness is incredible, but exploit it with the ball dropping out of the sky is freakish. This being Cruyff, he is confident enough to despatch the coup de gras with a curler, in off the bar. Apologies for the awful narration, I suggest you watch it in silence.
3. Roberto Baggio, Brescia (v Juventus)
Now we’re starting to get into the ridiculous. A raking pass that is dropping over the shoulder is hard enough to control. How about deliberately wrong footing the keeper whilst taking the ball perfectly in your stride in one fluid motion, then tapping it into the empty net? Few could score a goal of this beauty, Il Divino Codino is one of them (again, best watched in silence, unless you enjoy your goals with horrific, dreary tosh playing over the top).
2. Lionel Messi, Barcelona (v Arsenal)
Ok, technically this isn’t a first touch, but there was no way I could ignore this massive piss take from Messi. You’ve all seen it, but watch it again anyway. Instinctive brilliance.
1. Dennis Bergkamp, Netherlands (v Argentina)
And, at number one, arguably my favourite goal of all time. De Boer’s pass is drilled at Bergkamp, and Bergkamp must be knackered because it’s right at the end of the match. Think how tired you are at the end of a game, when fatigue can make the most simple pass seem difficult to control. However, that’s only a problem for mortals, not for Bergkamp. I think the Dutch commentator enjoyed it too.