The Ten Greatest Blunders in Football Lore

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Green Blunder England
By Nicholas Spiller

Behold the most painful, embarrassing, and calamitous moments in soccer history. These are the great mistakes made by mere mortals who will go down as the legendary goats, for their importance and sheer foolishness will never be denied by the masses of the fans. Here are the ten biggest blunders by “professional” footballers.

Yes, more often than not the greatest soccer blunders involve the goalkeeper. In the above image England goalkeeper Green bobbles a Clint Dempsey shot in the World Cup.

10. Laurent di Lorto. We begin with a history lesson. Even our forefathers had their blushing moments on the soccer pitch. Watch Laurent di Lorto make a mess of this simple shot en route to banging his face into the post and handing Italy a cheap goal in the quarterfinals of the 1938 World Cup (Go to :55):

9. Lee Dixon. Dixon is next in the proceedings with his lovely shot over David Seaman, the former English national goalie. Unfortunately, Seaman was also his Arsenal team mate and this world class finish left him feeling utterly dreadful:

8. Martin Hansson. So many losses in soccer are blamed on the referee so I felt I had to include a monumental error in judgment. Martin Hansson was the one to blame as he single-handedly missed Thierry Henry’s blatant handball that propelled France into the 2010 World Cup and left Ireland reeling in despair and frustrations. Sure, Henry is just as much as fault here and I’m sure the Irish will never forget what he did:

7. Jamie Pollock. Hard to think it now, but Manchester City was in the thick of the relegation battle of 1998 in Division 1! Desperately needing a result against QPR, midfielder Jamie Pollock did the unthinkable and made a stunning run with a beautiful header into his own net. For shame! Man City spent the next season ruing this fateful moment in Division 2:

6. Wojciech Szczesny & Laurent Koscielny. Arsenal again cracks the bottom ten of tragic events with their pathetic finale in the Carling Cup final. Whether goalie Wojciech Szczesny or defender Laurent Koscielny is to blame, I still am unsure. Either way the Gunners lost a trophy in horrendous fashion, and the whack Koscielny received on his head during the Birmingham celebration was perfectly warranted in my books:

5. Rafael Van der Vaart. Dutchman Van der Vaart had a not so fine moment playing for Hamburg. With his team down a goal in the dying moments of the match, he smartly passed the ball back to his goalie only to learn that his team mate was at the other end of the pitch fighting for a header on goal. Watching Van der Vaart fall flat on his face at the tail end of this clip just adds to the calamity and hilarity of the situation:

4. Robert Green. Sadly, Green mistake’s in the 2010 World Cup will be what he’s remembered for in football, especially in England. USA!! USA!! The chant still rings proudly from when Robert Green graciously handed America a free draw in the 2010 World Cup group stage match. Green’s gaffe meant that England had to play Germany in the opening knockout round and was quickly sent packing their bags in the tournament. For the Americans, this pathetic goalkeeping ability is still a delight for the eyes:

3. Rene Higuita. One of the most fascinating goalies of all time was Columbian, Rene Higuita. His scorpion kick saves are ridiculous and that hair!!! Oh my, what sense of style!! But this moment of sheer stupidity from the 1990 World Cup reminds us all why goalies are usually playing in the goal with their hands….Some people simply have no foot skills (Go to :50):

2. Oliver Kahn. Kahn was arguably the best goalie of Germany’s history. During the 2002 World Cup he made many a fine save that took the squad to the final. But then, when all the lights were on, he slipped up terribly and gifted Brazilian, Ronaldo, one of the easiest goals of his life. In the single greatest match of his life, the proud German faulted and probably still wakes up to this day sweating over his careless moment:

1. Andres Escobar. You may feel that some of these slip ups are the end of the world for these players, but for another Columbian, Andres Escobar, his mistake from the 1994 World Cup actually was. Playing a must-win match under immense national pressure, the captain scored a tragic own goal. A mere two weeks later, he was shot and killed in his home country with suspicions linked to the Columbian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. In the saddest of manners, this blunder was by far the most costly, and it is a grim reminder that soccer is sometimes much more than just a game. The story behind the mistake and both Escobars was marvelously recounted in the documentary The Two Escobars.


Nicholas Spiller is a freelance soccer writer and can be reached at: nrspiller@gmail.com

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