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 Gráfico 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, Karim El Ahmadi, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Carlos, Ariel Ortega, David Villa, Wesley Sneijder, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Luis Suárez, Léo Lima, Eden Hazard, Joe Cole, Erik Nevland, Marko Arnautović, Ángel Di María,Jay Jay Okocha, Marcos Rojo, Fabrizio Miccoli, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Henderson, Rivaldo, Ricardo Quaresma, Ricardo Infante, Arjen Robben, Érik Lamela, Neymar, Carlton Palmer, Jonathan Calleri, Marcelo Carrusca, Harry Kewell, Carlos Bacca, and Matías Fernández.
Other sports and uses
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. 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. Kansas State University placekicker Matthew McCrane attempted an unsuccessful rabona onside kick in the 2015 Alamo Bowl.
- "The art of Rabona". ESPN. 18 January 2016.
- "El fundador de la rabona". (Spanish) Clarin.com
- "Giovanni Roccotelli" (Italian)
- "Cocò, l'acrobata del numero 7" (Italian)
- "Em 2003, Souza faz gol contra o Fluminense após cruzamento de letra de Léo Lima". Globoesporte.com. (Portuguese)
- "Mirá la rabona de Rojo". Olé.com. (Spanish)
- "Carrusca’s FFA Cup rabona has fans abuzz". Football Australia. Retrieved 20 September 2015
- Miracle Finish Keeps Dallas In The Playoffs