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Quick off the mark

Robin Hackett
January 6, 2011
Wayne Rooney was quick off the mark against West Brom © PA Photos

After Wayne Rooney took just two minutes and 15 seconds to break the deadlock against West Brom on New Year's Day, ESPNsoccernet looks at some of the fastest goals in history.

Clocking On (1964)
Jim Fryatt still holds the record for the fastest goal in the English Football League after his effort for Bradford Park Avenue against Tranmere in 1964 was adjudged to have come after just four seconds. Albert Mundy had the previous record after scoring for Aldershot six seconds into a 3-0 win at Hartlepool but - despite onlookers believing Fryatt's goal to have taken closer to ten seconds - there was no video evidence to contradict referee Bob Simons and the Bradford PA striker took the record.

"I blew my whistle for the start and still had my stopwatch in my hand when the ball entered the net," Simons said. "The scoring time is exactly four seconds - no question of it."

Highland hero (1964)
At just 18 years old, Tommy Ross scored the fastest-ever hat-trick when he netted three goals in 90 seconds for Ross County in a game against Nairn County at Victoria Park. He scored seven goals that day in an 8-1 victory but, because the match was not filmed, his incredible achievement escaped the Guinness World Records for four decades. He eventually discovered that the referee's official record was enough and, in 2004, his achievement became official.

"This has been going on for 40 years," he said at the time. "Other people have been scoring hat-tricks and I have been sitting there knowing I did it in 90 seconds. This sets the record straight at last and I am totally delighted."

He added: "I've been coaching footballers for a long time and all the kids, even my grandson, say it's impossible to score three so quickly. What they don't realise is in those days there was no kissing and cuddling when you scored a goal. You just ran back to the halfway line and got on with the game."

Own Gull (1977)
Torquay defender Pat Kruse scored the fastest own goal in British football history when he headed beyond his goalkeeper after six seconds of a game against Cambridge United. Team-mate Phil Sandercock then put another header past his own 'keeper to put the visitors two ahead, but Torquay battled back in the second half for a 2-2 draw.

In an Estonian league match in 2009, Kuressaare defender Jaanis Kriska is said to have taken only five seconds to head into his own net against Lavadia. The game that finished up in an 8-0 defeat.

Stuart Pearce wasn't quite on the ball as Davide Gualtieri gave San Marino a shock lead against England © PA Photos

Minnows leave England shocked (1993)
San Marino, buoyed by their 0-0 draw with Turkey earlier in 1993, scored only the third goal in their history in a World Cup qualifier against England in Bologna after just 8.3 seconds. Assisted by a short back-pass from Stuart Pearce, computer clerk Davide Gualtieri's goal remains the fastest in World Cup qualification history, and brought his team's all-time goal difference down to a more respectable minus 84.

The visitors went on to win the game 7-1, but it was to be Graham Taylor's last as manager. England had needed to win by a seven-goal margin and for Poland to do them a favour against Netherlands and, as neither happened, England finished third in the group.

"I'm probably more famous in Scotland," Gualtieri told the London Evening Standard in 2003 when asked about his status in his homeland. "In '95, we played the Scots here and their fans came wearing T-shirts which said 'Gualtieri - eight seconds'. I was in the Halloween pub in town when some of them found out who I was. They bought me drinks all night and wouldn't let me leave."

Secs and videotape (1995)
Adelaide City striker Damian Mori held the world record after scoring 3.69 seconds after the kick-off in an Australian National League match against Sydney United, and its significance is that it is believed to be the first contender to have been filmed.

Club officials promptly sent off the video of the goal to the Guinness World Records and the record was Mori's for three years until amateur player Ricardo Olivera's effort after just 2.8 seconds for Rio Negro against Soriano in December 1998.

Turkey shoot (2002)
Hakan Sukur of Turkey scored the fastest goal in the history of the World Cup finals when he netted 10.89 seconds into the 2002 third-place play-off against South Korea. Sukur had arrived at the tournament amid high expectations, but that effort - which helped his side to a 3-2 win - was his only strike of the tournament. "The goal was late in coming," he said after the game.

Czechoslovakia's Vaclav Masek had previously held the record, netting just 15 seconds into a 3-1 defeat to Mexico at the 1962 tournament.

Fred fires in (2003)
Former Lyon striker Fred, playing for America Mineiro in a Copa Sao Paolo de Juniores match against Vila Nova in 2003, scored the fastest goal in Brazilian football history when he netted 3.17 seconds after the kick-off. Unfortunately, Fred's goal did little to help his team: they went on to lose 5-1 and were knocked out of the competition.

Eastleigh blown away (2004)
With the assistance of a strong wind, Marc Burrows, a striker with Isle of Wight-based side Cowes Sports, scored what was, for a time, the fastest goal ever recorded in Britain. Burrows launched a shot immediately after kick-off in a reserve game against Eastleigh and, two-and-a-half seconds later, his team were 1-0 up.

"My fellow striker Michael Ponter rolled the ball forward a couple of inches and I took a mighty swing at it," Burrows said after his side's 2-1 win. "The wind was so strong I thought it was worth a go."

The FA confirmed it was the world's fastest goal and said: "Two-and-a-half seconds may not seem long enough to complete the manoeuvre described by the referee, but we appreciate there was an exceptionally strong wind."

Nicklas Bendtner predicted his impact against Tottenham © PA Photos

Great Dane (2007)
While Nicklas Bendtner had risked the wrath of Arsenal fans by agitating for a move away before he'd even got started at the Emirates, things settled down nicely when he scored with his first touch after coming off the bench against arch-rivals Tottenham. His goal, a header from a Cesc Fabregas corner, came 1.8 seconds after play had restarted and ensured Arsenal were top of the league at Christmas.

"It was fantastic - first touch, first Premier League goal," Bendtner said. "I said to Vic, our kitman, 'Get me on for the corner and I'll score for you'. It was quite funny when it actually did happen."

Arsene Wenger, though, didn't seem too keen to indulge the striker after his rumblings of discontent. "He should be thankful he is playing with the greatest young team in the world," he said.

King of the cup (2009)
Ashton United midfielder Gareth Morris' effort four seconds into an FA Cup qualifier against Skelmersdale United in 2001 is likely to be the competition's fastest ever but, as an FA spokesman pointed out at the time, it would be near impossible to verify: "The problem will be the age of the competition. I don't think there is an historical ledger going back 120 years, so it's difficult to say with no element of doubt that it is the fastest."

The record for FA Cup final goals, however, are more complete, and Everton striker Louis Saha took the crown in 2009 when he scored after 25 seconds against Chelsea. Unfortunately for Saha, Chelsea came back to win the game 2-1, with manager David Moyes suggesting the goal did little to help the Everton cause: "It was a great start for us but it probably inspired them more than us."

Admin error thwarts record-breaker (2009)
Nawaf Al Abed scored after just two seconds when he fired a shot straight into the net as Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal secured a 4-0 victory over against Al Shoalah in an Under-23 Prince Faisal bin Fahad Cup game. Through no fault of his own, though, the goal would not go down in the official records: an "administrative error" saw Al Hilal field six players over the age of 23 in the game.

The Saudi federation's technical committee ruled the result void and awarded Al Shoalah a 3-0 win. The committee also banned defender Saad Al Thyab for two months, while club president His Royal Highness prince Abdallaurhman Bin Musaad vowed that "the official will be punished due to the mistake".

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