Five of the best: Long range efforts

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Prior to Monday evening, Stefan Ishizaki was best known for being the youngest player to win the Svenska Cupen, when he triumphed in the final with AIK at the tender age of 16 years and 364 days.

But the Swedish midfielder will now be afforded the arguably more prestigious honour of a place in YouTube history and the guarantee of featuring in bargain bin DVDs of great goals and gaffes for years to come.

Ishizaki scored a quite ridiculous goal for Elfsborg in an encounter against Orebro in the Allsvenskan Swedish league earlier this week; volleying past the opposition goalkeeper from his own half.

It was a goal which left many aghast at the sheer audacity and technical ability, and one which prompted GMF to take a look at some comparable efforts from the past.

Inspired by the effort of Ishizaki, here is a list of five of our favourite long range strikes…

David Beckham

Wimbledon v Manchester United, 1996

This strike from David Beckham is probably the most iconic goal of its type in football history and, arguably, one of the finest the game has ever seen.

The 21-year-old Beckham had been handed Mark Hughes' No.10 shirt for the start of the 1996-97 season, and responded in quite breathtaking fashion on the opening day of the campaign.

Brian McClair tracks back and wins the ball for United, and passes to Beckham, who has space in front of him to attack the opposition full-back.

But rather than carrying the ball forward, Beckham spots Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan off his line, and nails his shot to perfection; sending the United fans behind the goal into raptures.

It was a goal that proved to be the making of Beckham, and announced him as the rising star of English football. Watch the goal here.

Xabi Alonso

Liverpool v Newcastle, 2006

Being remembered for the ability to score goals from your own half is quite an art indeed, but Xabi Alonso managed just that during his time as a Liverpool player.

In January 2006 he fired into an empty net from the centre-circle in an astonishing FA Cup tie with Luton Town at Kenilworth Road, a feat few would imagine the Spaniard would ever achieve again.

But he did, and during the same calendar year to boot. This strike, however, was far superior to his effort against Luton, with Alonso catching out Newcastle 'keeper Steve Harper from well inside his own half.

This goal also prompted one newspaper to run with one of our favourite ever headlines: 'XABI A-LONG-GOAL'. Watch the goal here.

Maynor Figueroa

Stoke City v Wigan Athletic, 2009

This phenomenal hit from Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa earned him the Match of the Day's Goal of the Season award for the 2009-10 season, and rightly so.

What is so impressive about Figueroa's strike is that it comes from a dead ball situation, after Rory Delap concedes a free-kick inside the Wigan half.

Rather than playing a short pass to Wigan winger Scott Sinclair to quickly launch another Latics attack, Figueroa strides up to the stationary ball and thunders an effort into the top corner of Thomas Sorensen's net.

The Stoke 'keeper was genuinely helpless to prevent the ball sailing into his goal. Watch the goal here.

Chris Maguire

Scotland U21 v Iceland U21, 2010

You are always at your most vulnerable when having just scored, or so some say, but the Iceland U21s would never have expected to have conceded so soon after finding the net at the opposite end.

Iceland had taken a one goal lead with barely 15 minutes remaining, and would have been confident of holding on for an impressive win on Scottish soil.

Chris Maguire, however, clearly thought differently as he took the kick-off with Jamie Murphy, and decided to immediately test the opposition 'keeper.

It was a gamble that paid off, as Scotland drew level immediately, with Maguire firing the ball into the net from hardly a yard inside the Iceland half. Watch the goal here.

Dejan Stankovic

Inter Milan v Schalke, 2011

This effort from Dejan Stankovic also featured in GMF's list of favourite volleys, and is good enough to warrant an entry into another 'Five of the best' feature.

Ok, so the Inter Milan midfielder does not score from his own half like some of the others on the list, but this goal against Schalke in the Champions League quarter-final really was incredible.

Esteban Cambiasso fires a long ball forward for Inter, but Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer intercepts the pass before it finds its intended target Diego Milito.

The Germany No.1 gets decent distance on his clearance - with his header almost reaching the half-way line - but Stankovic takes the ball on the volley first time to score the goal of a lifetime. Exceptional technique. Watch the goal here.

Which long range efforts with feature in a list of your favourites? Let us know in the comments section below...

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