Great players score great goals. The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo produce wonder goals on a regular basis. However, some players have just one magical moment in their career when they pull off a piece of audacious skill that is well beyond their normal capabilities.
Here are four players who announced their arrival to the world with genuine world class strikes, but have yet to replicate that ability on a regular basis.
Years before Wayne Rooney cornered the market in spectacular overhead volleys, a 21-year-old Israeli striker made a name for himself in the football world by scoring an arguably even more impressive goal.
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It’s always a point of debate for football fans as to how much weight should be given to the importance of games when assessing the quality of individual goals. There is no questioning that Rooney’s sensational late winner in the Manchester derby in 2011 was a much more important goal than Atar’s strike for Bnei Yehuda against Maccabi Netanya in 2009.
Technically, however, Atar’s goal was probably even more difficult. The ball came quicker, and at a flatter angle, making the strike even more remarkable.
It was no one-off either. The now 29-year-old has scored a number of spectacular goals throughout his career, including a couple against PSG in a 4-3 Europa League victory for Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2010. However, he has never managed to turn his penchant for the spectacular into consistent performances at the top level.
Excluding a relatively unsuccessful period at Stade de Reims in France, he has plied his trade in the Israeli league, with a meagre three caps for Israel a sign of his unfulfilled talent.
While Rooney has become synonymous with the overhead volley, there is only one man who comes to mind when you think of spectacular volleys from tight angles.
As with the Rooney comparison, Marco van Basten’s famous volley in the 1988 European Championship Final came at a slightly higher level then Linus Hallenius’ similarly astonishing strike for Hammarby against Syrianska in the Swedish second tier. Nonetheless, the then 21-year-old still caused a few ripples when he pulled off his wonder goal.
It could be argued that the additional piece of skill by Hallenius to beat his man makes the goal even more special, but on the other hand, there is an additional level of difficulty involved in striking a ball first time when it has travelled a great distance, as it did for Van Basten’s legendary goal.
Regardless of how his strike compares to Van Basten’s, the rest of his career certainly doesn’t come close. Hallenius did manage to win a move to Genoa in 2010, but only made one appearance for the Italians. Now 27-years-old, the Swedish striker is back in his homeland with Helsingborgs.
His lack of an appearance for the senior Swedish national team shows that he has yet to live up to the early promise showcased by his wonder goal.
Miroslav Stoch was already a well-known talent when he achieved his moment of goal scoring glory. Having failed to make the grade at Chelsea, Stoch moved to Fenerbahce in 2010, and it was in a Turkish Super Lig tie against Genclerbirligi that Stoch bagged his wonder goal.
Many a footballer has attempted the sweet volley from the edge of the box following a direct pass from a corner kick, but few have pulled it off with the explosive style of Stoch. His 25-yard rocket flew into the top corner and earned him the FIFA Puskas award for the most beautiful goal of 2012.
It is a bit harsh to say Stoch hasn’t lived up to his wonder goal, given that he has 55 caps for Slovakia at the age of just 26. However, he has spent recent years on loan at PAOK, Al Ain and Bursaspor, which seems a bit of a waste of his considerable talent.
Peter Ankersen is another who may feel hard done by to be labelled as failing to live up to his special goal. The 25-year-old right-back has had a solid career so far, spending time with Rosenborg and Red Bull Salzburg, before arriving at his current employers, FC Copenhagen.
However, anyone seeing his personal ‘Van Basten’ moment for Esbjerg against Aarhus in 2013 would have been forgiven for expecting the Dane to be playing at an even higher level by this stage in his career.
Ankersen took the ball on his chest at pace, before smashing in an unstoppable volley from almost the by-line. It was another goal that was worthy of a much higher stage. With time on his side, Ankersen may yet be one player who still goes on to live up to his most famous goal.