10 iconic football moves named after the player that invented them

10 iconic football moves named after the player that invented them

The ultimate honour as a footballer is to have a special skill or trick named after you.

Here are 10 iconic football moves – some you’ve probably tried! – named after the player who invented it.

1. “The Cruyff turn”

From the 1974 World Cup, this is mesmerising to watch.

Receiving the ball between the penalty area and touchline with a defender seemingly closer to him than the Dutch shirt on his back, Cruyff initially fakes to pass the ball. He then drags it in the opposite direction and heads into the area, leaving the Swedish defender for dead:

2. “The Higuita scorpion kick”

England versus Paraguay in a mundane friendly at Wembley in 1995. The game ended in a 0–0 draw and would be forgotten today, had it not been for this extraordinary moment from Paraguayan goalkeeper Rene Higuita in added time at the end of the game:

3. “The Panenka”

Of all the moves listed here, this is the one that’s probably worthy of an article of its own. It’s also the one that doesn’t need any description.

The circumstances alone make it extraordinary.

This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill league match. It was the deciding penalty in a shoot-out at the end of the 1976 European Championship Final against the then world champions, West Germany:

The chances of Panenka’s cheeky lob going embarrassingly wrong were high. It’s unlikely that Panenka’s home country – Czechoslovakia – would have taken failure well.

4. “The Maradona spin”

This is also often referred to as the “Maradona turn” or “roulette.”

It involved the Argentine genius spinning the ball with one foot, then rotating further with the other, allowing him to change direction and move away from any opposing player with ease:

While other moves usually occur infrequently, Maradona would produce a version of his spin regularly. Even though defenders knew it was coming, there was little they could legitimately do to stop it.

5. “The Blanco hop”

This trick rarely gets replicated these days. The circumstances have to be exactly right, and it comes with a high risk of ridicule if it goes wrong.

Facing two South Korea defenders at the 1998 World Cup, Mexican striker Cuauhtémoc Blanco trapped the ball between his feet and jumped between them before laying off a pass:

It didn’t do Blanco’s career and popularity in his home country any harm at all. He’s currently governor of Morelos province in Central Mexico!

6. “The Papinade”

The acrobatic volley when the ball is over waist height is one of the most spectacular moves in football – assuming the ball doesn’t end up in Row Z.

Here in the UK, it’s best known as a “bicycle kick”, but in France it’s described as a “Papinade” after Marseille striker Jean-Pierre Papin’s stunning strike for France against Belgium in 1992:

7. “The Garrincha turn”

Reports vary as to who invented this 360-degree turn. But we’ll give it to Manuel Francisco dos Santos, better known as Garrincha.

He’s widely regarded as one of the most skilful players ever, and the person most responsible for Brazil’s reputation for attractive football.

Besides, we couldn’t put a list like this together without having at least one Brazilian on it.

Here’s France legend Zinedine Zidane with his version of the classic turn:

8. “The Ronaldo chop”

As one of the most skilful and innovative players in football history, it was inevitable that Cristiano Ronaldo would appear on this list.

To perform his now legendary “chop”, Ronaldo sometimes almost appears to stamp down on the ball at such an angle that it moves 90 degrees underneath his legs and across his body:

Countless defenders have been wrong-footed by this move.

9. “The Bolasie flick”

As of October 2021, Yannick Bolasie is playing for Caykur Rizepor in the Turkish League, but he made his name with an extraordinary piece of skill playing for Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

His own description consists of three words: “roll, drag, flick”. Rolling the ball forward, he then drags it back before flicking it against his standing foot. This takes it away from the bemused defender and allows him to pivot away into the penalty area:

10. “The Rabona”

Contrary to common belief – including ours when we started putting this list together – the “Rabona” isn’t actually named after a player.

“Rabona” is the Spanish expression meaning “hooky” (to play truant) and presumably describes the movement of “hooking” your opposite foot around the ball as you make contact.

If you want this iconic move to carry the name of a player, we’d suggest calling it the “Lamela”. He won the 2020/21 Goal of the Season competition with a prime example – in a North London derby for good measure: