Jump directly to the content

News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services.


Your Sun

A News UK Company

Saudi Arabia’s Saeed Al-Owairan scored one of the best World Cup goals ever in 1994

Saudi Arabia midfielder Saeed Al-Owairan scored one of the best goals to grace a World Cup game back in 1994

Four minutes had been played of Belgium versus Saudi Arabia.

It was still at the stage when everyone was settling into the game, which explained the usually technically sound Enzo Scifo’s poor touch.

Belgium’s languid playmaker picked up the pocket of space he usually unleashed magic in, but uncharacteristically let the ball roll under his foot.

The ball was played to Saeed Al-Owairan, a full 80 yards from Belgium’s goal, and the rest is history.

DREAM TEAM WORLD CUP Click here to sign up for this summer’s brilliant fantasy football game before it’s too late!

Except, it isn’t really.

Ask people to reel off a list of their favourite goals and you’re unlikely to hear Al-Owairan’s name pop up, unless you’re conducting your research in Riyadh.

But his name deserves to be talked about in the same breath as Diego Maradona, Dennis Bergkamp and James Rodriguez, at least when it comes to World Cup goals.

For a start, when Al-Owairan picks the ball up he’s only got two team-mates ahead of him. A daunting sight, I’m sure you’ll agree.


So, with little else to do, he’s forced to run with the ball.

And run he does. It can’t be a coincidence that Forrest Gump was released exactly a week after Al-Owairan’s wild stroll through the Belgian midfield.

He’s then got to avoid an agricultural nibble by Dirk Medved, distant cousin of Pavel Nedved, and Michel De Wolf’s desperate slide tackle.


Then we get to the pièce de résistance.

Al-Owairan popped the ball through Rudi Smidts’ legs and fired past Belgian keeper Michel Preud’homme.

At the point the ball crossed the line three players were on the floor, including Al-Owairan, as the RFK Stadium pitch transformed into (spoiler alert) a scene from The Departed.

Chaos at its very best.


Al-Owairan had taken the ball exactly 75 yards, reaching a top speed of 18.8mph.

Saudi Arabia held on for the win and went through to the round of 16, where they were knocked out by Sweden.

That was, unsurprisingly, as good as it got for Al-Owairan, who spent his entire 13-year career at Al-Shabab.

He was named as Asian Footballer of the Year after the World Cup but would land himself in trouble with the notoriously strict Saudi police soon after.

Pose for the camera

Pose for the camera

In 1996, during Ramadan, he was caught drinking with a group that included non-Saudi women, leading to a stretch in jail and a year-long ban from football.

By the time the 1998 World Cup came around he was back playing football and made the Saudi squad, but was a shadow of his former self.

Al-Owairan played twice as Saudi were sent home without winning a game.

But don’t worry Saeed, you’ve more than earned your place in the World Cup Hall of Fame.


DREAM TEAM WORLD CUP Sign up to this summer’s brilliant game below