Sometimes you watch professional soccer, see a player make a sideways pass, and think, “I could do that.” Other times you watch professional soccer, see a player do something with the ball that defies physics, and you understand just how supremely talented these people are. This list is about the latter.
Below you’ll see the 25 finest bits of soccer skill from the calendar year 2014, as nominated by Paste Soccer writers.
25. Thierry Henry Juggles Out of Trouble
It was preseason. It qualified as a launch lost, but it’s still Thierry Henry trolling the Philadelphia Union.
24. Clint Dempsey Embarasses Hakan Balta
Sure, Onur Kivrak safely collected the ball, but Clint Dempsey’s nutmeg of Hakan Balta stole the show in a 2-1 victory for the U.S. men’s national team.
23. Gonçalo Paciência’s Spin-meg
This is what the Clint Dempsey trick looks like if you get the ball at the other end. This would be higher up the list, but Paciência’s pulled this off playing for Porto B, and is yet to make his debut for the first team.
22. Zlatan Fu
The big Swede divides opinion but there is no doubting his willingness and ability to try the most outrageous skills. The thought process, much less the execution, of this backheel assist to Ezequiel Lavezzi is pure Zlatan.
21. Yacine Brahimi’s Turn vs. Lille
Porto’s Algerian midfielder turned so fast that he left Lille’s Franck Béria on his cheeks.
20. Antony Vanden Borre Takes a Stand
Fiorentina’s Vanden Borre did a bit if showboating when he stood on the ball. But it worked, with the defender lured in so he could make a quick pass.
19. Kelyn Rowe’s Ankle-Shattering Cut
Legend has it, Chris Duvall is still trying to pick himself up.
18. Cristiano Ronaldo Plays Keepaway
No, Ronaldo did not have a great World Cup. But he did do this to the USA.
17. William Carvalho's Take-Two-Out Tackle
Sporting defensive midfielder Carvalho enhanced his reputation as a defensive beast with this April tackle that was so well timed, it took out two attackers simultaneously.
16. Isco's Centrifugal First Touch
Isco spins 180 degrees, glues the ball to his foot, then spins another 180 degrees to face goal. And if not for Diego Godin's tackle, this would be our list of the Best Goals of 2014 instead of the best skills.