Football is a game of tactics, hard work, perseverance, goals, saves, and skills. Players performing jaw-dropping abilities are one of the reasons many tune in to watch the game. The moment a player executes a complex skill to perfection amazes everyone and proves why football is a beautiful game.
Over the years, we have seen several skills invented. While some have vanished, others have stood the test of time. However, a few were so outrageous and revolutionary that they have enshrined their name in the game forever.
These skills have added flair to the game and attract the attention of fans bamboozled by this exquisite combination of talent, trickery, hard work and risk-taking factor.
So, here are the ten most iconic football skills and their inventor that changed the game forever.
Most iconic skills in football
Cruyff turn- John Cruyff
No person in football has affected the game as much as a player and manager as John Cruyff did. As a player, he revolutionised football with the invention of ‘Total Football‘ before embarking on a managerial career where he won 14 trophies using tactics that would serve as inspiration for Pep Guardiola when he invented ‘tiki-taka‘.
Amidst all this, Cruyff also invented a new skill, ‘the Cruyff turn’. Cruyff first used the skills against Sweden in the 1974 FIFA World Cup. Cruyff would fake a pass in this skill before dragging the ball in the opposite direction and turning around quickly to leave the defender in the dust.
The Cristiano Ronaldo Chop- Cristiano Ronaldo
There is no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best players ever to play football. The Portuguese has won 32 trophies, including the FIFA Ballon d’Or, scoring over 800 goals. However, one of his accomplishments that have fascinated everyone worldwide is the famous ‘Ronaldo Chop’.
Doing this skill requires you to pass the ball quickly between your two feet. However, there are two things you need to remember regarding the way you want to go. First, if you want to go to the left side, you use the right foot to slice the ball with the left leg in front of the ball and vice versa. Using this ensures that you can change the ball’s direction massively, which, when done, quickly leaves the defender going in the wrong direction.
The Maradona Turn- Diego Maradona
When it comes to natural talent and trickery, there is no player better than Diego Maradona. The Argentine won multiple trophies with Barcelona, and Napoli, including domestic titles and league cups. However, his greatest movement came in 1986 when he almost single-handedly won Argentina their second FIFA World Cup.
And the most naturally gifted football player also invented the ‘Maradona Turn’. In this skill, Maradona would dribble towards the opposition. And when a defender would run at him, the Argentine would stop the ball with his right foot (his non-dominant foot) and drag it back to his left foot. Next, he would turn his back to the defender while turning the ball with his left foot. Then, after sending the defender the wrong way, he would complete the run and breeze past the defender.
Next on the list of most iconic football skills is Ronaldinho’s Elastico. The Brazilian performed outrageous skills that left players, coaches and fans all flabbergasted. He is still the only player ever in history to win a World Cup, a Copa América, a Confederations Cup, a Champions League, a Copa Libertadores and a Ballon d’Or.
While he was a genius at football tricks, none came close to Elastico. In this skill, Ronaldinho used the outside tip of his right foot to make the ball move towards the right while spinning it simultaneously. Then he would use the inside tip of the boot to move the ball immediately in the opposite direction leaving the opposition player wrong-footed and humiliated.
Panenka- Antonin Panenka
Of course, the Panenka had to be on the list. It was the 1976 European Championship when Czechoslovakia faced West Germany in the final. The match went all the way to the penalty shootout. And when Antonin Panenka stepped up to take the final spot kick, the equation was simple: score and win.
To make the situation more pressurising in goals was Sepp Maier, the most in-form goalkeeper in the world. However, in what can be described as one of the coolest moments in football, Antonin Panenka produced a chipped shot down the centre of the goal. Czechoslovakia won the tournament, but Panenka became immortal. The kick has since been repeated many times, most famously by Zi8nedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup final and Andrea Pirlo in the 2012 Euros.
Rabona- Ricardo Infante
The Rabona is a trick that, when executed, looks like the best skill one could come up with. However, pulling it off is so hard that one rarely sees it in the modern game. Argentine striker Ricardo Infante invented it in 1948 during a game between Estudiantes and Rosario.
This skill requires a player to place the ball beside his non-dominant foot. Next, the player would bring the dominant foot from behind the non-dominant foot to perform a cross-legged shot with their dominant foot to score. When Infante performed the skill for the first time, the Argentine magazine ‘El Grafico’ published an image of him performing the trick with the caption ‘Infante played hooky’.
Puskas V turn- Ferenc Puskas
You have to be one of the best players in football if FIFA keeps their best goal award’s name after you. Ferenc Puskas was one of the most prolific goal-scorers ever. He won multiple trophies, especially at Real Madrid, where he formed a devastating partnership with Alfredo Di Stefano. Puskas was also the leader of the Hungarian national team nicknamed ‘Mighty Magyars’, which did not lose for 31 straight matches between 1951 to 1954.
And during those matches, Hungary faced a star-studded England in 1953. During the game, Puskaks received the ball near the edge of the goal, and an England defender slid in to prevent him from taking the shot. However, Puskas casually dragged the ball back to his left foot and produced a ferocious volley past the English goalkeeper.
The Rainbow- Jay-Jay Okocha
Also known as the Okocha Turn, the Rainbow remains one of the most efficient skills in football. It was made famous by former Bolton Wanderers player Jay-Jay Okocha. It has been repeated by Neymar many times throughout his career at Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain.
When executing this skill, the player uses the stud of the ball to take the ball in a particular direction. Next, he would use his other foot to fake a dribble in the opposite direction while going in the earlier direction. Most of the time, these skills left the opposition players on the wrong foot.
So good they named him twice, Jay Jay Okocha was pure joy to watch, an artist with the ball at his feet 🖌
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 6, 2022
The Stepover- Pedro Calomino
Perhaps the most common among the most iconic football skills, the stepover is an efficient skill to have in crunch situations. Invented by Argentine striker Pedro Calomino, the move was made famous by Brazilian sensation Ronaldo.
To do the mauve, you have to move the ball forward and then start performing circling movements around the ball. The final step involves bamboozling your rival by taking the ball in the opposite direction with the final kick.
Seal Dribble- Kerlon
Although rarely seen in modern football, the Seal dribble is one of the most satisfying and pleasing skills to watch. Made famous by Brazilian footballer Kerlon, the skill allows players to lift the ball with their feet and then start dribbling forward while bouncing the ball continuously on their head or foot. This skill had an advantage because it was hard for the opposition to dispossess the player off the ball.
More often than not, the only way to win the ball back is if the player loses control or is fouled.