Bicycle kick

Bicycle kick

A Bicycle kick or Scissor kick is a physical move made by throwing the body up into the air, making a shearing movement with the legs to get one leg in front of the other without holding on to the ground.[1] The move can either be done backwards or sideways. Performed in ball games, when the move is done with one leg high over the head to reach the ball (located in the original head height), it is also called an overhead kick. The move is generally linked with association football, but bicycle kicks are also used in various other sports. It is the iconic movement in the game of Sepak takraw, a popular sport played in Southeast Asia (especifically Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia);[2] and also rarely occurs in Australian football where it is commonly categorised as a snap kick.[3]

Regarding the origin of the move, there exists a controversy among the different claims of invention from the countries of Brazil, Chile, Italy, and Peru. Attributions of invention have been given to people such as Brazilian Leônidas da Silva, Basque-Chilean Ramón Unzaga, Italian Carlo Parola, and the Afro-Peruvian people of Callao. The controversy is particularly great among the Peruvian and Chilean positions, both which consider their respective terms (chalaca and chilena) as the legitimate ways to name this move.[4] However, despite these claims, FIFA does not hold a registry of ownership.[5]

In association football, the difficulty of the bicycle kick in football is such that even Pelé, one of professional football's most renowned players, describes it as "not easy to do".[6] Due to its difficulty, only a few players have been able to perform the move (either as a defensive or offensive play) in an official football match.[7] As such, the move is one of the most praised plays in the game, especially when a goal is managed to be scored from it.[8][9][10]



Different phases of the execution of a bicycle kick.
It's a technical resource in which one must use his back, in the air, but with the head almost to the ground; the legs have to stay up and one must be at almost 90 degrees.

Cesar "Chalaca" Gonzalez[11]

The common English name comes from the two legs that look as if they are pedaling a bicycle, with one leg going forward to the ball and the other backward to create an opposite moment.[1] The move is also called a scissors kick due to the its motion resembling "scissors in the air."[12][13]

According to Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, most languages in the world name the action by the acrobatic form it resembles. The newspaper's list, which mentions mostly European languages, shows most of these name the move "scissors kick" followed by "bicycle kick."[14] Other names that describe the acrobacy include the German Fallrückzieher (falling backward kick), which emphasises the sacrifice of the player falling on his back, and the Italian name Rovesciata, which literally means "reversed."[15] Some exceptions to this naming standard include those languages in which the move is attributed to a specific national origin. In the Spanish speaking world the bicycle kick is not only called tijera (scissors),[12] but is also commonly known as either chalaca or chilena. In Norway, the move is known as Brassespark (Brazilian kick).[15]

Execution of move

Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid executes a bicycle kick against Athletic Bilbao.

In association football, the move can either be a pass or a shot towards the goal.[16] There are two major situations where the bicycle kick would be useful in a game situation:

  • When a defender is desperate to remove the ball from near his side's goal, but he stands facing the goal and with his back to the direction he wants the ball to go, and the ball is bouncing around and thus difficult to control.[1]
  • If a striker has his back to the opponent's goal and is in the opponent's penalty area or nearby, and the ball is bouncing at head height.[1]

Performing a bicycle kick can be quite dangerous when performed incorrectly.[17] The main aspect to remember when executing a bicycle kick, is to brace yourself with your arms as you land back on the ground. One should also keep in mind that the difficulty of the move makes it unanticipated and, therefore, the player runs the potential risk of getting hurt or harming another player.[17] However, as described by BBC Sport, this is one of the acrobatic moves that makes the game much "richer."[18]


Today, these kind of movements are seen with less frequency and when they appear the controversy over who invented them is reborn. As it tends to happen, there exist the "official" responses and then the others.

Diego Pérez[7]

There are different claims of invention in different parts of the world for this popular move. Generally, players noted as being the inventors of the kick tend to be those that have made the move during national or international tournaments in an official association football match. Nonetheless, the invention of the kick is controversial as different countries have different proposals on how and where the move was invented. For instance, in Peru, the move is attributed to the players of Callao, and it is often told that they invented the move when playing with English sailors in the late 19th century.[4] In Chile, Basque Ramón Unzaga is credited with being the first player to create the bicycle kick in 1914 and exhibit it in an official football match.[19] In Italy, the invention is usually credited to Carlo Parola, who allegedly invented the move on 15 January 1950.[20] Further contributing to the controversy, some players that have performed the move attribute the invention to someone else or themselves. Per sé, Leônidas, a famous player from Brazil, attributed the invention of this move to another Brazilian player, Petronilho de Brito.[21] If that were not enough, sometimes the attributions of invention get jumbled, and people begin to attribute the invention of the kick to famous players who performed, but did not claim invention of, the kick such as Hugo Sánchez from Mexico and David Arellano from Chile.[22]

Notable bicycle kicks

Due to the move's level of difficulty, only a few players have been able to make it into what could be a special hall of fame for those that performed, scored, or effectively defended with the use of a bicycle kick.[7] The acrobatic skill and handling of the ball that is generally required has often made it nearly impossible for players to make the move in important situations.[23]

Notable games

On May 12, 1957 Indonesian player Ramang converted a bicycle kick to gain a (2-0) victory against China PR in the 1958 FIFA World Cup qualification. Ramang was a famous "Pa'Raga" (Sepak takraw) player in Indonesia before he played football. Bicycle kicks are a basic movement in Sepak takraw.

On November 9, 1986 Dutch star player Marco van Basten executed a bicycle kick which is still remembered all over the world.[24]

  • 1975: Copa America

In the arena of national football teams, a famous bicycle kick was made during the international tournament of the 1975 Copa America when Juan Carlos Oblitas scored against the Chilean football team with a bicycle kick that gave the Peruvian football team a 2–0 lead against the visiting team.[25]

Klaus Fischer of Germany scored an overhead kick in the 108th minute of extra time for the tying goal for Germany, making it 3–3. (France had been leading 3–1 in extra time at one point). Germany won the game by penalties 5–4. The goal was voted that year's "Goal of the year".

  • 1996: Copa Libertadores

Hernan Crespo scored a "chilena" for River Plate in the round of 16 match against Sporting Cristal that gave the Argentines a win en route to the championship they would later win.

  • 1996: Asian Cup

In the group stage of AFC Asian Cup 1996, Widodo C Putro of Indonesia scored his goal by a spectacular bicycle kick from outside the penalty area. That goal was created in a match against Kuwait while the game was ended (2-2). His goal was awarded as The Best Asian Goal in 1996 by AFC.[26]

QPR's Trevor Sinclair scored a memorable bicycle kick from the edge of the penalty area in the fourth round of the 1996-1997 FA Cup. The goal would go on to win the Match of the Day Goal of the Season.

Nick Wright scored an overhead kick for Watford against Bolton in a Division one Play-off final match on 31 May 1999 which helped them get promotion to the Premier league.

Italy's Mauro Bressan in a UEFA Champions League match (3-3) against Barcelona on 2 November 1999. After 14 minutes he scored a spectacular 25 yards bicycle kick which is considered one of the greatest goals of all time.

Barcelona's Rivaldo scored in the 89th minute and thus gave the team the chance to participate in the Champions League.[27]

In an FA Premier League encounter at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's Icelandic forward Eidur Gudjohnsen equalised United's opening goal with a spectacular bicycle kick from Frank Lampard's cross. The home side went on to win the game, thus reigniting that season's title race.

  • 2004: Copa Libertadores

A famous bicycle kick was scored in the Copa Libertadores 2004 by Jorge Soto while playing for Sporting Cristal against Rosario Central.[28] Said game was being played in Peru, and the Argentine Rosario Central had previously tied Sporting Cristal with a score of 1–1 in Argentina. Soto's bicycle kick goal opened up what would turn into a 4–1 victory for the Peruvian squad, and his goal is considered one of the best in the Copa Libertadores tournament.[29]

In a highly anticipated Midlands Derby, Gary Cahill scored his only Aston Villa goal with a near post overhead kick to give Villa the lead and a eventual 3-1 win.

In the club level, one of the most famous modern bicycle kicks was done by Ronaldinho while playing for Barcelona and scoring with what was considered a bicycle kick against Villarreal. The importance of this move came about because it served as the spark that once again set in motion the controversy of the move's origin: the ongoing dispute between Peru and Chile.[30]

  • 2006: FIFA World Cup qualifier

Panamanian Luis Tejada scored an overhead kick against Mexico which was voted goal of the year by Fox Sports.[31]

Emmanuel Adebayor scored an overhead kick for Arsenal against Villareal in a Champions League quarter final match on 7 April 2009.

  • 2009: Copa Libertadores

Martín Palermo of Boca Juniors scored his 200th goal with the club in the form of a bicycle kick in a Copa Libertadores group stage match against Deportivo Táchira.[32]

Angelo Barletta of the German 3.-Division-ClubVfL Osnabrueck scored the 1:0 against the Bundesliga-Club Borussia Dortmund in the 3rd round of the German DFB-Pokal with a perfect bicycle-kick after a throw-in. Osnabrueck won the game with 3:2.

  • 2010: FIFA World Cup qualifier

Gary Medel of the Chilean national team scored a bicycle kick against Bolivia, when playing in La Paz. As the ball was rebounded into the box after a strike off a free kick Medel, with his back to goal, hooked the ball into the net with an overhead kick from the penalty spot. The match would end 2–0 for the visiting team.[33]

Deco of Chelsea scored his 3rd goal with the club in the form of a bicycle kick in a Premier League match against Bolton. Chelsea won the game 2-0.

Wayne Rooney scored a bicycle kick for Manchester United in the 78th minute to seal a 2-1 win over Manchester City.[34]

Julio Gómez González In the play that derived in the second goal for Mexico, an Olympic goal by Jonathan Espericueta, Gomez's head collided with Samed Yesil's, after which he was left lying on the field, bleeding heavily. With no substitutions left, he returned to the field and scored the winning goal with a memorable bicycle kick on the last minutes of the match, and gave Mexico the pass to the final against Uruguay.

Notable strikers

The following strikers have scored more than once from a bicycle kick in a top tier club match or competitive international match, have received notability or attribution of invention in regards to the bicycle kick, and are either retired or are active football players with at least a 10 year football career in a senior team.

Notable defenders

The following defenders have used a defensive bicycle kick in a top tier club match or competitive international match more than once, have received some kind of honor or attribution of invention in regards to the bicycle kick, and are either retired or are active football players with at least a 10 year football career in a senior team.

Australian rules

The bicycle kick is also sometimes used in Australian Rules Football but is called the snap kick. The oval shaped ball makes it much more difficult to control the direction of the snap, however the area of the goals is larger. Some notable goal attempts using the kick in the Australian Football League include:

Beach Football

The move is also possible to be performed in beach football.[55]


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External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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