Worst football decision ever? Jan Vertonghen's offside goal for Spurs is still baffling

Jan Vertonghen

What is the worst football decision of all time?

Diego Maradona’s hand of God against England? Frank Lampard’s non-goal against Germany? Reading’s ghost goal against Watford in 2008?

Well, we’ve stumbled across a decision that rivals them.



It may not be as notorious but it’s definitely just as bad – if not worse.

We’re talking about Jan Vertonghen’s goal being disallowed for Tottenham against Sunderland.

Spurs were leading 2-1 deep into second half injury-time.

Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon went up to attack a corner in an attempt to equalise.

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But Spurs cleared and broke away.

Vertonghen, who had already scored earlier in the match, was played through on goal while he was still in his own half. Only one Sunderland defender was covering with Pantilimon way up the pitch.

Vertonghen rolled the ball into the back of the net but, inexplicably, the assistant referee raised his flag for offside.


Fan footage shows just how bad the decision really was.

VIDEO: Jan Vertonghen’s disallowed goal vs Sunderland

The assistant referee was right in thinking that, because the goalkeeper was out of his goal and there was only one player between Vertonghen and the goal, the Spurs defender was offside.

Well, that would have been correct if he wasn’t about four yards inside his own half!

Six years on and it’s still baffling.


Fortunately, Spurs managed to hold on for a 2-1 victory.

After the match, former Premier League referee, Dermot Gallagher admitted the decision was ‘indefensible’.

“One thing I learned when I was a referee is don’t defend the indefensible,” he said on Sky Sports.

“It was a big error, there’s no doubt about that. I wonder if the linesman has seen the goalkeeper up and his thoughts are there is only one defender back. And he’s completely lost sight that he’s in his own half. He’s four yards inside his own half, there is no doubt whatsoever.

“It’s an error and he’ll be very, very upset. It’s a shame as when it got to 90 minutes at the weekend, I turned to Howard Webb and said ‘what a great weekend it’s been so far’ and then it went into stoppage time and that happened. Howard cuffed me around the head and said ‘thanks very much, Derm’.”

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