Top 5: Most spectacular football skills ever

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The Step Over- Cristiano Ronaldo

Of the most definitive images in the history of Manchester United Football Club, one of the most significant ones in recent memory will undoubtedly be that of a scrawny, spaghetti-haired Portuguese teenager stepping onto the hallowed turf of Old Trafford to make his debut against Bolton Wanderers early in the 2003-04 Premier League season.

Few knew what to expect from the boy who had been given David Beckham's iconic no. 7 jersey, but his 30-minute cameo against Bolton showed the world the first real glimpses of his superb attacking talent. Displaying innate confidence unusual for someone his age, he wasted no time in taking the game to the visitors, despite United already being 1-0 up well into the second half. 

Capable of playing on either wing, he did not hesitate to take on battle-hardened Premier League defenders in one-on-one situations, and as the game progressed, he began to take the tricks out of the locker, beating defenders and getting into crossing situations. You can watch his first performance in a United shirt in its entirety by clicking here.

While Ronaldo has spent the last 10 years of his career beating defenders for sheer pace and physicality, he became known relatively early in his career as something of a one-trick pony for the way he (over?) utilised one particular piece of skill: the step-over.

Also called the scissors or the pedalada, the move involves the offensive player (who is in possession of the ball) moving his legs above it while running towards the defender, thus fooling him into thinking he will move in a particular direction, before actually making for the opposite direction. It was reportedly created as recently as in the mid-1990s and was popularized by the Brazilians Luis Ronaldo and Denilson Araujo at that time. However, the man who really helped this move strike a chord with children of all ages was Cristiano Ronaldo.

The winger spent his six years at United mastering the step-over and its varying cousins, and developed a penchant for stepping over the ball repeatedly, even when in a standing position while surrounded by defenders, often to the delight of United supporters and unabated fury of occupants of the visitors' stands at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo would offer defenders tantalising glimpses of the ball by stepping over it, left-foot, right-foot, left again, before nicking it past them when they made desperate lunges for it, leaving them in a heap on the ground. Exuberant, spectacular, effective; the step-over just about symbolised Ronaldo's attitude as a player and his desire to be the best on the pitch, and in style.

When executed perfectly, as Ronaldo so often did, the step-over had a knack of leaving defenders in inglorious heaps on the ground, and the winger made excellent use of the skill, and the others that formed part of his extensive repertoire, to become one of the most exciting offensive talents the footballing community has seen.

Even now, years after the two Ronaldos brought to the step-over to the fore, it remains the most popular footballing trick for children of all ages, and you wouldn't be hard-pressed to find youngsters fervently practicing the skill at every opportunity.

For just a glimpse of Cristiano Ronaldo's ability with a football, watch this superb video of a free-styling session involving him, Rio Ferdinand and British free-styler Jeremy Lynch.

Zinedine Zidane
Cristiano Ronaldo
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