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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").

The first filmed rabona was performed by Pelé in the São Paulo state championship in 1957. In the 1970s this move was simply called a "crossed-kick."[3][4]

Various well known players have successfully performed a rabona in competition, including Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim El Ahmadi, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Carlos, Ariel Ortega, David Villa, Wesley Sneijder, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Diego Perotti, Alberto Aquilani, Alex Carey, Luis Suárez, Léo Lima,[5] Eden Hazard, Joe Cole, Erik Nevland, Marko Arnautović, Ángel Di María, Jay Jay Okocha, Marcos Rojo,[6] Fabrizio Miccoli, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Henderson, Rivaldo, Ricardo Quaresma, Ricardo Infante, Arjen Robben, Dimitri Payet, Érik Lamela, Neymar, Carlton Palmer, Jonathan Calleri, Marcelo Carrusca, [7] Harry Kewell, Carlos Bacca, Matías Fernández, Manolis Skoufalis, Bruno Fornaroli and Rab Mullin. Johnny Giles of Leeds United performed one in the famous sequence of possession against Southampton in the late 1970's during the 7–0 win.

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

The rabona is also a dance step used in the tango. The dance step takes its name from the football kick.[11]

See also[edit]