English football’s cheekiest goal? Dean Saunders’ ‘throw-in’ move was genius

  • Rob Swan
Former PL striker Dean Saunders scored arguably the cheekiest goal in English football history

As the 2022-23 season gets underway, we thought we’d cast our minds back to a serious contender for the title of cheekiest goal scored in English football history.

If you’ve never seen Dean Saunders’ audacious ‘throw-in’ goal for Sheffield United vs Port Vale then you’re in for a treat.

The goal was scored during Saunders one and only season at Sheffield United: the 1997-98 campaign, when the Blades were competing in the old First Division (now known as the Championship).

Saunders scored 17 goals in 43 appearances that season before joining Graeme Souness at Benfica.

But it was during his brief spell at Bramall Lane that Saunders netted the most famous goal of his 19-year professional career. 

A pass from Tri Dellas just about managed to stay in play down the left-wing and Saunders sprinted to meet it first ahead of Port Vale goalkeeper Paul Musselwhite.

Musselwhite put the ball out of play, but only just, allowing Saunders to gather it for a quick throw-in.

Dean Saunders

Port Vale’s ‘keeper knew he was in massive trouble by this point, but what he didn’t see coming was the ingenious trick Saunders had up his sleeve.

The former Wales international threw the ball onto Musselwhite’s back before rolling the ball into an empty net from near the touchline.

Watch the goal here:

That’s outrageous.

Notice how he waited until the moment Musselwhite turned his back before throwing the ball at the goalkeeper. Very clever.

Dean Saunders goal

Was Dean Saunders’ goal legal?

Was the goal legal, though? 

The FA’s rules state: “If a player, while correctly taking a throw-in, intentionally throws the ball at an opponent in order to play the ball again but neither in a careless nor a reckless manner nor using excessive force, the referee allows play to continue.”

So, there you have it. Saunders’ goal was correctly allowed to stand.

One football fan commented on YouTube: “Genius!!! To instantly remember the rule in that situation is remarkable!!”

Another wrote: “THE MOST CLEVER GOAL EVER!!!”

Someone else said: “200 IQ move.”

While another posted: Good finish. “Messi or Ronaldo did that we talking about the greatest goal of all time.”

After the game, the striker said: “At one point I’d given up, but it started curling round and down the line. The goalkeeper did well because he read it, he came sliding out. I let him slide out of play and there was no-one else with me.

Dean Saunders

“So he turned his back, I threw it onto his backside and it rolled nicely for me. Luckily I’ve just stroked it in.

“I had that much time to think about what I was going to do when he slid it out of play, I knew he was going to get there before me. I do it in training, messing about. But I’ve never done it in a game.”

Quiz: Can you name all of theses 90s Premier League players?

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Can you name this Premier League player from the 1990s?

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