5 Underappreciated Football Skills That Are Better Than A Scorpion Kick

All hail Rory Delap

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However much commentators rave over Oliver Giroud and Henrikh Mkhitaryan's recent efforts, the 'scorpion kick' is, much like the arachnid to which it owes its name, a poisonous influence on our hallowed British game that must be stamped out.

Here are just 5 genuinely impressive football skills that we'd take over a flying back heel any day…

The humble toe-punt

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Remember that life-changing moment, at the tail end of primary school, when toe punting the ball suddenly became sacrilege? Out of nowhere, P.E teachers implored you to "put your laces through it," even though you were clearly still wearing velcro Kickers*. Fellow kids would sneeringly discount all of your playground goals as "flukes", and your dad got weirdly emotional when he saw you do it during matches, despondent and ashamed on the touchline, as if you were Billy Elliot slipping on a tutu. "You'll break all of your toes doing that," he'd mutter on the drive home, making a mental note to remove your name from his will and testament.

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So we ditched our go-to method, out of 'pride' and 'integrity' and 'the wellbeing of our toes', but at what cost? Toe-punts are, for many of us, the only viable way to score screamers. We'll take the wild, veering unpredictability of a nail-splitting swing over a perfectly executed half-paced shot any day, just as we'd root for a renegade detective over a by-the-books cop.

How often do we even use our toes, anyway?

*I was a slow child.


It's one thing to deliberate over a goal kick in the 88th minute of a must-win Premier League game, it's quite another to hoof the ball over the fence of your five-a-side pitch straight from kick-off. That takes real plums.

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Make sure to show no remorse or intention to go get it back. "Dicky knee lads, sorry." Even better, organise the game next to a school, so that absolutely nobody on the pitch wants to climb over and retrieve it for fear of appearing in the local paper.

If another ball is available, simply kick it over the fence in the opposite direction. Treat the inevitable bruises to your head and body with a cold compress and a handful of crushed parsley leaves.

The perfectly executed shirt-tug

The modern crop of cellophane-tight Premier League shirts tear apart like rice paper, proving a significant problem for the brute rule-benders of our noble game.

Luckily, beyond the Premier League, kits remain as loose as our morals - and for that, we should be thankful. There's nothing quite like watching a cynical clogger almost slice a winger's head clean off with a well-timed scruff grab, or the close-to-tears indignity of a striker who's been yanked down to the ground in the midst of a corner kick.

The unpunished shirt grab – one of the greatest dickhead moves in all of sport – is an art form that must be protected.

Showing off

If you have the patience to ask, people will offer you a myriad reasons as to why the Premier League has lost its way. They'll blame overpriced tickets, or complacent players, or foreign oligarchs, or Alice bands, or even neutral two-team scarves.

But for our money, the biggest problem with modern English football is that we no longer get to watch former England right-back Danny Mills get humiliated on a weekly basis. It's something that Thierry Henry always took a lot of pleasure in as well, and one of his favourite tricks to play on Mills (and everyone else, for that matter) was his patented and pointless mis-kick pass.

You can hardly accuse modern players of not possessing enough arrogance, but they rarely let it seep onto the pitch where it belongs. Piss-taking stalwarts like Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jay-Jay Okocha and (on occasion) Nani delighted in mugging off every player in sight for no reason whatsoever - and that's the kind of shit-eating behaviour that we value here at Esquire.

The long throw

Everyone loves a feat of strength – big lads bench-pressing Vauxhall Corsas on Channel 5, and that kind of thing - but modern football leaves little room for such ancient pleasures. Even in England, a nation that prizes 'fight', 'grit' and 'shouting' above all else, the softest of touches can earn you a yellow card from the wrong ref.

Nowadays, the only way to prove how tough you are on a football pitch is by launching a Rory Delappian long-throw. Dads across the land will tell you that it is just as good as a corner, and while they are unequivocally wrong, it will strike fear and awe into every man, woman and child lucky enough to see it. Whether or not the ball reaches your intended target, or even stays within the parameters of the pitch, is completely irrelevant.

What's more, it will help you avoid the greatest indignity in the game: a limp-armed foul throw.