When a rabona kick goes wrong, it’s the funniest thing ever. When it goes to plan, the masterful technique is one of the classiest skills in the history of association football.
What exactly is a rabona kick?
A rabona is the art of striking the football with your kicking leg after crossing it behind your standing leg.
The popular action can be used to cross, pass or shoot during a football match. Many footballers have executed the rabona to perfection in front of millions watching around the world. Others, such as one particular player who I’ll discuss shortly, didn’t quite master the technique in the way he hoped!
Who invented the rabona kick?
With a name like rabona, it’s hardly surprising that the famous skill didn’t originate in the English game.
In 1948, Argentine striker Ricardo Infante used the first recorded rabona during a match between Estudiantes de la Plata and Rosario Central. The former Estudiantes player scored from a scarcely believable 35 yards in what must have been one of the greatest goals of all time!
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Infante, who passed away in 2008 aged 84, scored 217 goals in 439 games in the Primera División Argentina. That makes him the sixth-highest scorer in the league’s history.
Why is it called a rabona kick?
In Spanish, the word rabona means to play hooky/truant. As in, the child played truant and didn’t go to school.
After Infante’s wonder goal, Argentine football magazine El Gráfico published the following headline: “El infante que se hizo la rabona.” The English translation reads: “The kid who plays hooky.”
A picture of Infante dressed as a schoolboy accompanied the headline, referencing the fact that he skipped kicking the ball with his weaker left foot to use his preferred right foot instead.
In 1998, the prolific striker spoke about his rabona goal on the 50th anniversary of the legendary moment.
“It went in the top corner, although I never thought it would end up there,” Infante said. “That goal didn’t get the recognition it deserved. At the time we didn’t have television and media coverage of every game.” (via the42)
What is the purpose of a rabona?
The main aim of the rabona is to trick opposition players into thinking you’re going to kick the ball with your other foot. You can also use the move to show off your silky footwork.
The rabona is rarely seen in the professional game for the simple reason that the end result is so unpredictable.
The action I outline below is fairly straightforward to execute. The real problem is directing the ball where you want it to go!
How to do a rabona
Let’s say you want to impress your mates with a right-footed rabona. The opposition player probably expects you to kick with your left foot when you aim it towards the ball.
Little do they know you have a trick up your sleeve. Instead, you’re actually going to do the following movement:
Plant your left foot next to the ball, giving you enough space to arc your right foot behind your standing left leg. You can then swing your right foot around your left leg to kick the ball.
Simple! I can tell you from experience that the rabona is fairly easy to execute. I’m a 6ft 5in slow coach and don’t exactly have good feet for a big man. If I can do it, anyone can!
How to do a rabona in FIFA 23
Now this is the real question everyone wants the answer to. I might have mastered the rabona in real life (or at least I think I have), but FIFA is a whole different story.
Video gamers can perform the trick by pressing these buttons (thanks to this Diamond Lobby article for the info):
- Playstation: Hold L1 and Circle or Square, then LS and X down
- Xbox: Hold LT and B or X, then LS and A down
- Playstation: Hold L2, R1 and Circle
- Xbox: Hold RB, LB and B
Warning! Only players with a five-star FIFA 23 skill level rating can do a rabona. Don’t go trying it with Jordan Pickford. The ball will end up in Row Z.
The worst rabona kick in football history
I teased at the top of the article that one player spectacularly failed to deliver when he attempted a rabona. That person was none other than David Dunn, and he’s probably never going to hear the end of it.
During Birmingham City’s local derby with Aston Villa in October 2003, Dunn cut inside from the right wing towards the edge of the box. Around 25 yards from goal, he planted his left foot down and swung his right foot around his standing leg. So far, so good, but what followed next was quite frankly disastrous!
Dunn tried to find a teammate at the far post. However, his right foot barely connected with the ball, causing him to lose possession. To make matters worse, he tripped over his standing leg and fell to the ground!
You can watch the hilarious moment in the video above. Even Dunn’s manager at the time, former Birmingham boss Steve Bruce, couldn’t help but laugh on the touchline.
Erik Lamela’s rabona goal
Football has seen some quality rabonas over the years. Dimitri Payet’s rabona assist, Mario Balotelli’s rabona goal and Paul Gascoigne’s rabona penalty were all sensational. But none were quite on the level of Erik Lamela.
Between 2009 and 2016, I worked as a play-by-play live text commentator for a football website. Basically, I got paid to write updates on football matches that I was already planning to watch on TV anyway. Not a bad gig!
During that time, two goals left me speechless to the point where I couldn’t even put into words what I had just witnessed. One was Wayne Rooney’s overhead kick in the Manchester derby, the other was Erik Lamela’s rabona for Tottenham.
And I don’t mean his Puskas Award-winning goal against Arsenal in 2021. I mean the rabona he scored for Spurs against Asteras in the Europa League back in 2014.
Emmanuel Adebayor lost possession on the edge of the box, causing the ball to break to Lamela inside the D. Positioned side-on from goal, he planted his right foot down before swinging his left foot around his standing leg. Not only did he connect perfectly, but the ball arrowed past the goalkeeper in a split second and into the far corner.
The goal might be my favourite in football history. I mean, the audacity of the man to even attempt it! The elevation of the strike! Incredible.