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The Premier League’s Most Heartbreaking Own Goals

Scoring a goal in the Premier League can be pure elation ... so long as the ball ends up in the right net.

By Andrew Woodin
Premier League Hyypia

For the Premier League's elite goal scorers, an echelon of players who have devoted their entire life to honing their craft like the blade of a Samurai sword, the glory of each and every tally is an affirmation and testament to all the blood, sweat and tears it took to reach that exact point. For those special few who have ascended into the exclusive ranks of Premier League finishers, finding the back of the net means absolutely everything. But what happens when that net belongs to your own squad? By default, the inverse analysis says this would be nothing short of soul-crushing, and it doesn’t take a genius to understand that. When the pressure mounts, and everything’s on the line in front of tens of thousands of tremendously passionate fans, the absolute worst scenario possible for a player out on the pitch is notching a goal against his own side. No matter the position, the concept of the own goal is haunting nightmare for any player, but some are so heartbreaking, they’re on a whole different level.

Gareth Bale | Tottenham vs. Liverpool, Nov. 28, 2012

It's no secret that Gareth Bale's star doesn't shine quite so brightly these days, but one thing he wishes would fade is the agony of his own goal against Liverpool in 2012. As Bale staked out a position near his goal line for a Liverpool corner, a subsequent poor clearance smashed into Bale’s nose and ricocheted into the net. If the misery of scoring an own goal isn’t enough, the embarrassing and definitely painful circumstance in which the goal was scored definitely is.

Harry Kane | Swansea City vs. Tottenham, Oct. 4, 2015

The three-time Golden Boot winner Harry Kane is clearly a machine when it comes to scoring, even if it’s against his own club. Against Swansea City in 2015, the opposition looped in a soft corner directly to the near post where Kane was standing. With no one around, Kane had plenty of time and space to banish the poor service, but a sloppy mishit redirected the ball into his own squad’s net.

Jamie Carragher | Liverpool vs Manchester United, Sept. 11, 1999

Squaring off against fierce rivals Manchester United at Anfield, the only thing worse for Liverpool's Jamie Carragher than scoring one own goal was scoring another. The first was a highly unfortunate header off a cross, but the second goal was excruciating. Off a free kick from Man United talisman David Beckham, Carragher deflected in a goal that proved the decisive tally to give the Red Devils the victory

Richard Dunne | Manchester City vs. West Bromwich, Dec. 28, 2004.

It’s great to hold records in sports – most dunks, homers, slapshot speed, snowboard rotations on that sick McTwist, etc. You name it; somebody’s claiming it. Unfortunately, in the Premier League, owning the record for the most own goals at 10 is an infuriating label that will always follow Richard Dunne. One that has always stood out for its clumsiness is the knuckleheaded play he made against West Brom in 2004. On attack, the Baggies lofted a breezy chip over the halfway line into Man City’s territory. As a magnet for trouble, the ball landed neatly on Dunne’s foot mid-stride and squirted past his keeper for one of Dunne’s 10 haunting own goals.   

Santiago Vergini | Southampton vs. Sunderland, Oct. 18, 2014

This is one of those head scratchers that had Sunderland fans no doubt yelling any and all obscenities at their television. As Southampton regained possession and advanced the ball forward into the Black Cats’ territory, the Saints bounced a bad ball into the top of the penalty box where, for some inexplicably bizarre reason, Vergini loaded up and leathered a scorching volley for the score against his own squad. In “normal” scenarios, burying a one-timer in the back corner of the net would be an epic team lift. … Just be sure it’s against the opposing team!

Andy Myers | Liverpool vs. Chelsea, Sept. 21, 1996

In this early season 1996 matchup, Liverpool swung a deep cross in from the flank. Too deep, in fact, for its own strikers. Luckily, Chelsea's Andy Myers was there to give them a boost with a mind-numbingly careless header that found the back of Chelsea’s net and not its goalkeeper. Myers was drifting aimlessly off the far post solo – there was literally no one around him – and he still decided the best course of action would be to head the cross back to your keeper, which would undoubtedly be the last thing he was expecting. As the broadcaster says, “It’s the perfect header, except that he placed it past his own goalkeeper.” Well said.

Kieran Trippier | Chelsea vs. Tottenham, Feb. 27, 2019

As defeating as it is to score on your own squad, that agony can easily be exacerbated when it stems from the breakdown of such a simple, routine play. Tottenham’s defender Kieran Trippier learned this the hard way after a Chelsea free kick was redirected his way off a header, and he blundered, playing the pass back to his keeper. The error was costly, sealing Tottenham’s fate with a soul-crushing 2-0 loss to Chelsea.

Peter Enckelman | Birmingham City vs. Aston Villa 2002/2003

One of the craziest own goals in Premier League history originated off a benign Aston Villa throw-in to keeper Peter Enckelman. Maybe he was pondering the best fish and chips recipe or whether Santa Claus is actually from his native Finland. Whatever he was thinking about, it surely had nothing to do with the slow-rolling ball approaching his foot because the ball trickled right under his boot and into his own net what amounts to one of the most embarrassing own goals in any professional soccer league.

Though the pain of each still surely burns deep in the veins of its owner, not all own goals are made the same. Some just hurt more than others, and it’s not uncommon for those incidents to ignite vile reactions in fervent fans. But not always. Recently this season when Arsenal’s William Saliba received the ball back after previously scoring an own goal in The Gunners’ match against Leicester City, the last thing he appeared to be thinking about was the fans in the stadium breaking into a chant of his name.

Their support definitely made an impact on Saliba, illustrating the positive role fans can play when the going gets tough. Inexperienced backs who show a lot of promise like Saliba does should be embraced through the ups and downs. Growth will come.

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