11 popular football moves you didn’t know their origins


Whether you’re a casual or avid football fan, chances are that you’ve seen a popular football move that made you go,

“OMG! What was that?!”

and probably elicited a few curse words even though you’re normally religious. Yes, you’re not alone. I know the feeling too.
We all know the goal of the game is goals at the end of the day, but imagine you’re at a party and you’re asked to choose between white rice and stew or party jollof-rice. Your choice is most definitely going to be the latter. A well-executed football move gives that jollof feeling to the white rice – which is everyday plain football. Even the football gods knows this and though some might consider this blasphemy, I dare compare a well-executed football move to exquisitely prepared jollof-rice. Sue me!
Now, since we are on the same page, let’s quickly explore 11 of the most popular football moves ever executed and discuss their origins.

The Puskas Pullback

You probably think this move is basic and easy to execute today but it was and is still a beauty to behold whenever executed. This move was crafted in Hungary and was the signature move of a certain Ferenc Puskas its inventor; regarded as the best Hungarian ever to play the game. The move involves a feint or dummy pass before the ball is pulled back in a ‘V’ to dribble an unsuspecting opponent. It is still widely used to destroy defences to date. So, send your thanks to the great Puskas whenever you or your team use one successfully.

The Seal Dribble

I thought it particularly fitting to follow up a common football move with an uncommon one. This move is for the best of the best only and is also known as the ‘Kerlon’ move after its Brazilian inventor, Kerlon Mouza Souza. His picture on Wikipedia even has him exhibiting the move! To perform this skill, you’d need to balance the ball on your head, run for yards while nodding the ball in the air and keeping possession. Suffice to say, you’d need a sturdy body too as defenders do not take too well to its practitioners. Ditto its rarity in use.

The Rabona

Every player worth his weight in gold (or is it pounds these days?) has attempted or performed this beautiful and popular move. Our very own Austin Jay jay Okocha created endless thrills for viewers at the Yobo testimonial earlier this year exhibiting multiple Rabonas. While it looks simple to the eyes, it’s not a move any football simpleton can throw around. This move can also be tagged the ‘scissor cross’ as the legs form a scissor when the ball is crossed. Ricardo Infante is reported to have performed the first ever Rabona in a match way back in 1948. So, Argentina wins this round.

Step Over

It goes by many other names; Leg-over, The Denilson or Scissors, Pedalala etc. Odds are you’ve tried one yourself. It’s a dribbling manoeuvre that’s certain to provoke gasps of “Ohs” and “Ahs” even before its successful execution. Prominent among its exhibitors are the Denilsons, the Ronaldinhos and Robinhos of this world. Unfortunately, the birthplace of the step over is recorded to be Netherland and not Brazil (Who woulda thought, eh?) with Dutch Player Law Adam claiming full credits for its invention.



The Scissor Kick

It is only apt that we include this move since we’ve been discussing scissor related moves. TBH, everyone would love to claim this move as their own even a certain Bartholomew Ogbeche (LMAO). The scissor kick or bicycle kick is one of the most popular football moves of all time (not the easiest though) and I’m pretty sure many would ratify a bill making a scissor kick goal count for 2 instead of 1. The risks of attempting one include breaking your spine, back, or whole body. Please, do not try if you have no insurance!

Where was it invented?

According to early oral traditions, Afro-Peruvians were the first to use the move (before Ramon Unzaga and his other Chileans counterparts popularised it) in games with British Sailors sometime around the 19th century. So, which continent takes this, Africa or South America? Do let me know!

The Rainbow Flick

If you played street football growing up in hallowed ghettos in Lagos like Mushin, Oshodi or Ajegunle, it’s almost certain you’ve skinned someone or you’ve been skinned by someone. The slogan ‘o ti ge skin’ (synonymous to ‘you’ve been rainbow-flicked’) was like a death sentence back then as no one wanted to be on the receiving end of a successful rainbow flick.


Doubtless, you’ve seen Jay Jay Okocha do this move several times and probably think he invented it. Sorry to burst your bubble, he didn’t and he wasn’t the first to use it in a football match. Carretilha de Kaneco invented and first executed the skill in a game on March 9, 1968. Brazil wins here.

Flip Flap

Also called Snake-bite, Elastico, Zigima, or Gaucho in relation to Ronaldinho Gaucho; who most of all popularised the deadly move. Contrary to widespread views, this beautiful but complex move was neither invented by Ronaldinho nor a Brazilian (although, if it’s any consolation, it was developed in Brazil) but by Sergio Echigo; a Japanese immigrant to Brazil. Roberto Rivellino, a Brazilian and Echigo’s teammate at Corinthians would later study and make the skill his signature move decades before Ronaldinho exported it to the world. To Echigo we say “Yoi shina, Yoi kangae”, “Arigatou” from all the good football lovers around the world.


The Marseille turn

This is a complicated move that combines a Puskas pullback and a Cruyff/Garrincha-like turn to get beyond opposing players. There are different variations to this move which can be executed on the move or while stationary. Other famous football stars e.g., Juan Riquelme, Zinedine Zidane etc., have showcased their own variants of the move and left their mark. Credit for the invention of this move also known as the Maradona turn, Roulette or Pirouette, goes to Argentina’s Diego Maradona.

The Panenka

It is as beautiful to watch as outrageous it is to accomplish. Named after its inventor, Czech footballer, Antonin Panenka, the move remains as brazen today as it was when first used by him in a European cup of Nations final match against West Germany in 1976. That daring move not only earned Czechoslovakia their only ever victory in a major international football tournament but also made the Panenka one of football’s most incredible moves.

Totti executed the Panenka to much applause by the Roma fans
Totti executed the Panenka to much applause by the Roma fans

Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo, and Zinedine Zidane are among notable footballers who have perfected the Panenka in recent times. The Panenka appears simple to do yet practitioners should be wary of flopping one to avoid looking ridiculous especially in a high profile game.

Hocus Pocus

Having the semblance of an inverted snake bite, the magical nature of this skill is perhaps the reason it was so named. Another popular name for it is Aurelio with Brazil’s Rodrigo Taddei undoubtedly laying bragging rights to its invention. It’s a move sure to get you loads of applause if you’re fortunate or unending boos if otherwise. In the meantime, watch Taddei here doing his thang!

The Spoon Scoop

A cheeky move only the most daring tricksters of the game can brag of having accomplished during a football match. As such, it’s not a football move one gets to see often. Personally, I’ve seen only two footballers use it the most and they both played for PSG (could be a French connection there somewhere).


This move is akin to making a rainbow flick with one foot while the ball is on the ground (sometimes in the air). Whenever it is perfectly executed, it gives the impression of an imaginary spoon scooping the ball into the air from the ground and then over an opponent’s head. It’s a signature move popularised by a certain individual who was so good, they named him twice. Now, I guess you know where it came from. *wink*

These are 11 popular football moves whose origins are relatively unknown, if there are any other popular football moves not on this list you think should have been added, please do share!

Article By: @Teeham