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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain performing a rabona while warming up for Arsenal on 17 August 2013

In association football, the rabona is a method of kicking the football whereby the kicking leg is wrapped around the back of the standing leg–effectively with one's legs crossed.

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.


Rabona in Spanish means to play hooky, to skip school. The name derives from its first documented performance by Ricardo Infante in a game between Argentinian teams Estudiantes de la Plata and Rosario Central in 1948.[1][2] The football magazine El Gráfico published a front cover showing Infante dressed as a schoolboy with the caption "El infante que se hizo la rabona" (In English: "The infant plays hooky").[3] Another supposed origin for the name is that Rabona is derived from the Spanish world rabo for tail, and that the move resembled the swishing of a cow's tail between or around its legs. In Brazil, the move is also known as the chaleira (kettle) or letra (letter).[4]

The first filmed rabona was performed by Brazilian footballer Pelé in the São Paulo state championship in 1957. Giovanni "Cocò" Roccotelli is credited with popularising the rabona in Italy during the 1970s; at the time, this move was simply called a "crossed-kick" (incrociata, in Italian).[4][5][6]

In addition to the aforementioned players, some examples of various well known exponents of the rabona, who have successfully performed the skill in competitions and are also known to employ it frequently during matches, are: Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Claudio Borghi, Matías Fernández, Matías Urbano, Mário Jardel, David Villa, Ariel Ortega, Robinho, Alberto Aquilani, Eden Hazard, Joe Cole, Ángel Di María, Rivaldo, Ricardo Quaresma, Érik Lamela, Pablo Aimar, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Carlos,[1][3][7][8][9][10][11] Neymar,[12] Luis Suárez,[13] and Jay-Jay Okocha.[14] Other players who have also used this skill successfully during a competitive match are: Andrés Vasquez, Djalminha, Fahad Al Enezi, Thomas Müller, Manolis Skoufalis,[1][3][7][8] Léo Lima,[15] Marcos Rojo,[16] Marcelo Carrusca.[17] Dimitri Payet,[18] Carlos Bacca,[19] Fabrizio Miccoli,[20] Jonathan Calleri,[21] and Diego Perotti,[22] among many others; Johnny Giles of Leeds United also performed one in the famous sequence of possession against Southampton in the late 1970s during the 7–0 win.[23]

Other sports and uses[edit]

The first known use of the rabona in American football was done by Dallas Cowboys placekicker Toni Fritsch, who was a former soccer player that used it late in the fourth quarter of the 1972 NFC Divisional playoffs during an onside kick, that contributed to a historic come from behind 30–28 victory against the San Francisco 49ers.[24] Also used 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.[25] On November 6, 2016, Boswell had an unsuccessful rabona kick in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were playing against the Baltimore Ravens. Kansas State University placekicker Matthew McCrane attempted an unsuccessful rabona onside kick in the 2015 Alamo Bowl.[26]

The rabona is also a dance step used in the tango. The dance step takes its name from the football kick.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The art of Rabona". ESPN. 18 January 2016. 
  2. ^ "El fundador de la rabona". (Spanish) Clarin.com
  3. ^ a b c "Enraptured by 'rabonas'". FIFA.com. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Sebastiano Vernazza (2 February 2007). "Cocò Roccotelli, il mago della rabona" [Cocò Roccotelli, the rabona wizard] (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Giovanni Roccotelli" (Italian)
  6. ^ "Cocò, l'acrobata del numero 7" (Italian)
  7. ^ a b Jacob Steinberg (10 October 2014). "The Joy of Six: rabonas". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Richard Innes (24 October 2014). "The 6 greatest rabonas ever seen". The Mirror. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  9. ^ "The 'rabonas' from the greats that stunned the world". AS.com. 18 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  10. ^ "Gol di rabona: così Lamela prenota il premio Puskas 2015" (in Italian). Sky.it. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  11. ^ John Wragg (5 December 2014). "Non-league Rabona king Sean Geddes says wonder strike's brought him internet fame". The Express. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  12. ^ Roger Gonzalez (8 May 2016). "LOOK: Barcelona's Neymar shows off his crazy skills with fancy rabona pass". cbssports.com. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "Premier League, crollo Liverpool ad Anfield: vince il Wba" (in Italian). Sky.it. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  14. ^ Jon Townsend (12 December 2016). "Jay-Jay Okocha: so good they named him twice". TheseFootballTimes. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  15. ^ "Em 2003, Souza faz gol contra o Fluminense após cruzamento de letra de Léo Lima". Globoesporte.com. (Portuguese)
  16. ^ "Mirá la rabona de Rojo". Olé.com. (Spanish)
  17. ^ "Carrusca’s FFA Cup rabona has fans abuzz". Football Australia. Retrieved 20 September 2015
  18. ^ Rory O'Callaghan (14 September 2016). "West Ham's Dimitri Payet defends rabona against Watford". Sky Sports. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  19. ^ Peter Gilbert (14 January 2016). "Carlos Bacca scores rabona goal for AC Milan v Carpi in Coppa Italia". Sky Sports. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  20. ^ Emiliano Pozzoni (3 May 2009). "Palermo, cinquina da Uefa Miccoli spegne il Cagliari" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  21. ^ Callum Davis (19 July 2015). "Diego Maradona left stunned after Jonathan Calleri scores exceptional rabona chip". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  22. ^ "Diego Perotti scores with Rabona for Roma". World Soccer. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  23. ^ Neil Jones (18 December 2014). "Was Liverpool's 51-pass move against Bournemouth the best team goal ever scored?". The Mirror. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  24. ^ "The Tuscaloosa News - Búsqueda en el archivo de Google Noticias". 
  25. ^ "mlssoccer.com". 
  26. ^ Sherman, Rodger (3 January 2015). "Kansas State tries rabona onside kick at Alamo Bowl". 
  27. ^ "TangoAfficionado.com - Argentine Tango in Los Angeles".