This is the third part of the series on own goals and the focus is very much on the doyen of OG, but before honing in on the master of the art, we start with the first outfield player to get in on the act, Manchester City’s Garry Flitcroft.
Just a week after Mark Crossley’s inaugural Premier League effort in September 1992 [see previous blog post: https://bit.ly/3dNMEo4] Flitcroft opened his account. Peter Reid attempted to clear a corner but only succeeded in hitting it straight at Flitcroft before it ricocheted into the net off his startled teammate. The experienced Reid tore into the teenager, which was a little harsh as they were equally culpable for the cock-up. That this was the only goal of the game and gave Middlesbrough the three points no doubt added more fuel to Reid’s unjustified fire.
Flitcroft’s faux pas took place at Maine Road and set an early precedent for a rich seam of Manchester City catastrophes, led by the man who made the own goal his trademark. He tops the Premier League charts as the only player to reach double figures during his ten years with City as well as Aston Villa and QPR. If there was an annual award for the most own goals in a season by an individual it could only truly be called “The Richard Dunne Trophy”, in honour of the Irish central defender.
His very first was a classic of its kind and set a precedent for ten of the worst. Playing for City in December 2004 at the City of Manchester stadium, the home side were on their way to a 1-0 win over bottom of the table West Bromwich Albion, who had been reduced to ten men as early as the 17th minute, and had rarely ventured out of their own half. In the 85th minute a long ball was punted forward by Paul Robinson more in hope than expectation, and with Dunne tracking back, there seemed to be little danger. But as David James came out of his area to deal with the ball, it cannoned off Dunne and was already over the line before Robert Earnshaw followed it into the net. As an exercise in shooting oneself in the foot it was a masterpiece.
Less than two months later Dunne was at it again but this time the stage was the Manchester derby. When challenging Wayne Rooney in the 68th minute the ball flew in at the near post for the game’s opening goal but he was saved from the ignominy of having that one registered in his name. The respite was brief as within seven minutes he did get on to the scoresheet but he did little for his standing with the City fans by hacking a cross into his own net. Martin Tyler exclaimed “Can you credit it?” and unlike the first goal this was duly credited against Dunne’s name.
Despite Dunne adding another four to his collection before moving to Villa in 2009, he won the club’s Player of the Year award four years on the trot as well as being made captain in 2006. City fans were clearly a forgiving bunch. Following in Dunne’s wake as captain and while not nearly as prolific as his predecessor at the wrong end, one of Vincent Kompany’s three own goals was amongst the most spectacular. Away at Fulham in December 2013 Kompany had already scored in the first half to put City 2-0 up but then made a complete Horlicks of cutting out a cross at the near post with his left foot, only contriving to slice the ball into the air before it looped rather apologetically over a helpless Joe Hart into the far corner to draw Fulham level. Kompany is one of almost 50 players who have managed to score at both ends in the same Premier League match; a list that includes David Beckham who quickly made amends for the only own goal of his Premier League career at Ewood Park in August 2001 through a quickly taken free-kick that had Brad Friedel vainly back pedalling as the ball sailed over his head.
Kompany’s error at Craven Cottage was one of a record-breaking 49 own goals during the 2013/14 season as he was joined by other luminaries such as Mikel Arteta, Dimitar Berbatov, Harry Kane, Michael Carrick, John Terry and Kolo Toure. Martin Skrtel overshadowed them all by scoring four that season, which is the most by an individual in a single Premier League season. A feat matched by Lewis Dunk in Brighton’s Premier League first season in 2017/18. The Slovak is second behind Dunne on the all-time list of Premier League own goals alongside fellow Liverpool centre back Jamie Carragher, with both responsible for seven self-inflicted wounds.
A former Evertonian joined the Liverpool pair recently when Phil Jagielka scored his seventh Premier League own goal playing for Sheffield United against Leeds in April. Jagielka’s previous own goal came over a decade ago, back in January 2011, when playing for Everton against Stoke. So not only is the 38 year-old the second oldest outfield player to score a Premier League own goal (just 23 days short of Stuart Pearce who did so when playing for West Ham against Manchester United in January 2001), he also has the longest gap in between own goals with over 200 games in between his sixth and his seventh.
Additionally, the central defender’s first two own goals came in the 2006/07 season when he was playing for Sheffield United, so he sets the record for the longest time in between own goals for the same club at just over fourteen years. In the remaining games of this season Jagielka has the opportunity of taking outright second place in the own goal charts, and if that comes in the last five games he will take over from Pearce as the oldest scorer of a Premier League own goal. And some people say that Sheffield United have nothing left to play for this season.