There are several reasons why a player might opt to strike the ball this way: for example, a right-footed striker advancing towards the goal slightly on the left side rather than having the goal straight in front may feel that his shot power or accuracy with his left foot is inadequate, so will perform a 'rabona' in order to take a better shot. Another scenario could be a right-footed winger sending a cross while playing on the left side of the pitch without having to turn first. Another reason why a player could perform a rabona might be to confuse a defending player, or simply to show off his own ability as it is considered a skillful trick at any level.
The first reported rabona was performed by Ricardo Infante in a game between Argentinian teams Estudiantes de la Plata and Rosario Central in 1948. The football magazine El Grafico then set up a front cover showing Infante (in Spanish "infant") dressed as a pupil with the caption "Infante played hooky" ('rabona' in Spanish means to play hooky or to skip school). Since then the play has been called a rabona. The rabona was performed by Pelé in the São Paulo state championship in 1957. In the 1970s this move was simply called a "crossed-kick".
Various well known players have successfully performed a rabona in competition, including Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Carlos, Ariel Ortega, Mario Balotelli, David Villa, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Emmanuel Adebayor, Luis Suárez, Matías Urbano, Léo Lima, Davide Moscardelli, Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres, Paul Gascoigne, Joe Cole, Marko Arnautović, Ángel Di María, Marcos Rojo, Fabrizio Miccoli, Clint Dempsey, Erik Lamela and Rivaldo. On 29th November 2014, Worcester City F.C. player Sean Geddes scored a rabona kick in a FA Trophy 3rd Round tie against Barrow A.F.C.. André Ayew of Ghana scored a rare rabona goal when his side, Olympique de Marseille played against Stade de Reims at Stade Auguste-Delaune on September 23, 2014 in the French Ligue 1. Érik Lamela of Tottenham Hotspur scored a rabona goal from 20 yards on October 23, 2014 (one month to the day after Ayew's rabona goal) during a UEFA Europa League match against Asteras Tripolis.
The rabona was also used in American football by Rice University placekicker Chris Boswell to successfully deceive his opponents, the University of Houston during an onside kick. Boswell had learned the trick from his father, who grew up playing association football in Brazil. Kansas State University place kicker Matthew McCrane attempted an unsuccessful rabona onside kick in the 2015 Alamo Bowl.
- "El fundador de la rabona". (Spanish) Clarin.com
- "Giovanni Roccotelli" (Italian)
- "Cocò, l'acrobata del numero 7" (Italian)
- "Globoesporte.com - Em 2003, Souza faz gol contra o Fluminense após cruzamento de letra de Léo Lima" (Portuguese)
- Marseille’s Andre Ayew scores incredible ‘rabona’ goal against Reims
- Howard, Greg (October 23, 2014). "This Ridiculous Érik Lamela Goal Will Make You Feel Things". Screamer. Gawker Media. Retrieved October 23, 2014.