Tottenham to Liverpool: 16 times ballboys and girls took centre stage in football

Tottenham Hotspur v Olympiacos FC: Group B - UEFA Champions League

Jose Mourinho was waxing lyrical about the Tottenham Hotspur ballboys during their 4-2 victory over Olympiacos.

With Spurs 2-1 down at half time, it was some quick thinking from one of the club's youngsters that allowed Serge Aurier to take a quick throw-in and initiate Harry Kane's equalising goal.

Mourinho was so delighted with the initiative of the ballboy that he went over to hug him after the goal and has previously gone on the record highlighting the important role they play.

And it's pretty difficult to argue with Mourinho when you look at some other examples in football.

In light of the events in the Champions League last night, we've decided to look at 16 cases where ballboys or girls took centre stage for a variety of reasons.

Famous ballboy and girl moments

We're opening up with six examples of them providing 'assists' for goals in big games, before turning to 10 instances where they've been embroiled in controversy with managers or players.

For everything from Rob Green being nutmegged, Eden Hazard losing his rag and Liverpool catching Barcelona napping, check out the full list down below:


1. Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City (2010)

Straight off the bat, this might be the GOAT of ballboy 'assists.'

While the original ball flew into the stand, the ballboy immediately threw another to Seattle, who were able to expose the sleeping defence and score just one touch of the ball later.

2. Botafogo vs Vasco da Gama (2012)

Ballgirl Fernanda Maia, who became something of a celebrity in Brazil, directly caused Maicosuel's goal for Botafogo by immediately throwing the ball to Sebastian Abreu just seconds after it went out.

3. Fulham vs Tottenham (2017)

This is one of the rare examples where a home ballboy actually benefitted the visitors, ensuring that Kieran Tripper could take a quick throw-in behind the Fulham backline and allow Harry Kane to slide home the opening goal.

4. Sporting Lisbon vs Rio Ave (2018)

A subtler example than most, a Sporting ballboy just needed an exchange of eye contact to set a passing transition in motion that ended with Gelson Martins dispatching a winning goal.

5. Liverpool vs Barcelona (2019)

Oakley Cannonier, 14, will always feature in Liverpool's history for this superb turnaround.

It was because of the academy prospect's rapid delivery to Trent Alexander-Arnold that the Reds could take a corner so quickly that it caught Barcelona off guard and allowed Divock Origi to score.

6. Tottenham vs Olympiacos (2019)

Ah, the example that sparked this list. When you can't be offside from a throw-in, the quick thinking of ballboys can be absolutely lethal and Mourinho has found himself a new favourite youngster.

Player/manager moments

1. Tottenham vs Famagusta (2007)

We're starting with an example of s***housery that takes the term 'ballboy' way too literally. This Tottenham volunteer literally through the ball towards the Famagusta player's nether regions.

2. AC Milan vs Chievo Verona (2012)

Now this one is truly unique. Sulley Muntari had just scored in a winning goal in Serie A and made a lovely gesture by offering his shirt to a ballboy... only he completely refused it and passed it on. Brilliant.

3. Swansea vs Chelsea (2013)

Perhaps the most infamous ballboy incident of the modern era and one Eden Hazard won't look back on to fondly.

Hazard, who was forced to apologise, aimed a series of kicks on Charlie Morgan after he refused to pass him the ball and South Wales Police had to debate whether to take action.

4. Aston Villa vs Queens Park Rangers (2015)

On the barometer of s***housery, this has the needle doing backflips.

The Villa ballboy had the simple job of handing the ball to Rob Green for a goal-kick, but hilariously decided to fake a throw and then roll the ball between the QPR man's legs.

5. Manchester United vs Manchester City (2017)

Bizarrely, this was an example of a footballer time-wasting as opposed to the ballboy with Kyle Walker simply refusing to catch or control the ball no matter how many times it was thrown at him.

6. AS Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk (2018)

While Hazard is practising MMA moves on ballboys, Facundo Ferreyra clearly prefers WWE. 

With Shakhtar facing a Champions League exit in the Italian capital, Ferreyra tried to reduce time-wasting by pushing a ballboy over the advertising hoardings. He miraculously dodged a red card.

7. Wolves vs Hull City (2018)

With the Hull coaching staff doing their best to huddle around the ball, this Wolves ballboy took on new levels on initiative by stealing it from them and sitting up a quick throw-in.

Shades of a Year 7 heroically nabbing a ball from the older kids.

8. Bournemouth vs Tottenham (2018)

If the previous example seemed like a heroic school moment, this had hints of the opposite. The Cherries' ballboy was given a teacher-like telling off from the referee after throwing the ball at Jan Vertonghen.

9. Tottenham vs Watford (2019)

On the aforementioned s***housery scale, this ranks pretty lowly, but the hilarious decision to wink at the television cameras makes this moment at Wembley a social media classic.

10. Yeovil vs Bromley (2019)

Non-league football is always guaranteed to produce amusing moments and referee Aaron Jackson giving eight red cards to every Yeovil ballboy is right up there with some of the best.

More to come under Mourinho?

It's fair to say ballboys and girls have provided plenty of entertainment over the years.

Origi's goal against Barcelona is hands down the most high-profile example of them helping, but we also love the examples where they catch players out with some unusual behaviour.

Their natural biases and complete lack of professional interest makes them a hilarious unknown quantity - and we can't wait to see what drama comes in tandem.

Tottenham Hotspur v Olympiacos FC: Group B - UEFA Champions League

And while these sort of incidents are always incredibly unpredictable, you can rest assured that Mourinho will be instigating some more ballboy shenanigans over the coming months.

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