Our memories are inherently unreliable.
We corrupt reality over time as our brains subconsciously edit our experiences so that when we recall them, they are partially the product of imagination.
Admittedly, that’s a quite a heavy introduction to a throwaway article about football but you’ll have to trust that it’s relevant.
The following four goals are iconic for different reasons, but they are linked because some falsely believe them to be winners; goals that ensured the result of the specific match in favour of the team concerned.
Let’s consult the history books.
1 FERNANDO TORRES VS BARCELONA, 2012
A goal just as famous for Gary Neville’s reaction on commentary as the ramifications.
Chelsea’s resilient rearguard at the Nou Camp in the 2012 Champions League semi-finals is one of the most dramatic nights in the competition’s recent history; and Fernando Torres rounding Victor Valdes to slot into an empty net is the enduring image.
As a result, many misremember the Spaniard’s strike as the winner.
But the truth is Torres could have lashed his shot wide of the target (as he was prone to do in a Chelsea shirt) and the Blues would still have progressed to the final.
The hosts went 2-0 up through Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta to put them in the ascendancy following on from Chelsea’s 1-0 win in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.
Soon after the restart, Ramires scored a beautiful chip to make it 2-1 on the night but, crucially, it gave the visitors the advantage in the tie by virtue of the away goals rule.
So not only was Torres’ clincher not a winner on the night, it didn’t impact the tie either.
It was so wildly celebrated because Barca were banging on the door and the sucker punch effectively acted as the final whistle.
As the decisive goal, Ramires’ chip should be more widely acknowledged, not least because of the quality of the finish and the throughball from Frank Lampard.
2 LIONEL MESSI VS MAN UNITED, 2009
Since we’re on the subject of Barcelona in the Champions League, we might as well cover a goal Lionel Messi treasures as one of his very best.
The diminutive No10 excels in many aspects but there are few headers in his vast collection of goals.
Hence why his leaping effort (while only wearing one boot) in the 2009 Champions League final is widely remembered.
It was a remarkable header for a player who rarely bothers competing in the air and it deserves its reputation.
But its fame has caused some to confuse it for Barca’s winner in Rome.
However, the Catalans were already 1-0 up when Messi connected with Xavi’s cross thanks to Samuel Eto’o.
The Cameroonian legend opened the scoring in the 10th minute after nutmegging Nemanja Vidic.
3 ALAN SHEARER VS LIVERPOOL, 1995
The Premier League’s all-time top scorer netted at Anfield on the last day of the 1994/95 season as Blackburn secured their first and only Premier League title.
Only, Rovers actually lost to Liverpool to the final day of the season.
Kenny Dalglish’s side were defeated 2-1, meaning they had to rely on West Ham denying Man United victory at Upton Park.
The Hammers held United to a 1-1 draw to allow Blackburn off the hook.
Watch Shearer talk about this moment in episode two of our series entitled The Moments That Made Me: Road to 260…
4 SERGIO RAMOS VS ATLETICO MADRID, 2014
This one feels like a winner because it was the turning point in the game.
In 2014 it seemed as if Diego Simeone had crafted his masterpiece as Atletico Madrid were just seconds away from defeating their local rivals in the Champions League final.
Having beaten Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea in the knockout rounds, Atleti protected a 1-0 lead given to them by Diego Godin for two thirds of the game.
But with the game deep into stoppage time, Sergio Ramos expertly guided a corner into Thibaut Courtois’ net.
The talismanic defender’s goal levelled the score but all who witnessed the game know it was the moment of victory as it knocked the stuffing out of Atletico.
Demoralised, Simeone’s men capitulated in extra time, conceding three times in ten minutes.
Gareth Bale may have scored the winner but Ramos’ header is rightfully cherished as the decisive goal that delivered La Decima.