Football in Net Against Black Background

Which Football Players Have Scored the Most Own Goals?

Football is a game that often relies on a piece of individual brilliance to settle matches. For every amazing dribble or perfectly placed shot though, there is a brainless red card, a disastrous back-pass or a terrible miss. There is certainly plenty that can go wrong during football and some players know this far more than others.

What people would consider the worst thing to happen on a football pitch will no doubt differ depending on who you are talking to. For some it will be missing an absolute sitter, for others it will be getting embarrassed by a forward in a one versus one situation, with perhaps a cheeky megs thrown in for good measure. No matter what your stance though, scoring an own goal must rank highly on everyone’s list.

In the professional game, many players go their entire career without experiencing the shame that comes with an own goal. Others, are much less fortunate though, having put the ball into the back of their own net on numerous occasions. The very worst culprits from around the continent will be the focus of this article to ensure their frequent lapses in concentration are never forgotten about. Sorry guys!

English Premier League

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Firstly, we will focus on none other than the Premier League. There is little place to hide when scoring a goal in this league given how many people are watching. In the 2018/19 season, the Premier League boasted a cumulative global audience of 3.2bn. Knowing you have made a high-profile mare while people from 188 countries are watching must play on your mind but being true professionals, players usually dust themselves off and go again.

Martin Skrtel – 7

Here is the first of three players tied on seven own goals but Martin Skrtel deserves mentioning first due to the rate he acquired them. The menacing Slovak played 242 times for Liverpool, meaning he averaged one own goal every 34.5 games. Do not get the impression from this though that his own goals were nicely spaced out, far from it. During the 2013/14 campaign, the often-bandaged defender was on four occasions guilty of scoring in the wrong net, a joint-record tally for one season. He more than redeemed himself however by scoring seven goals at the right end that year, two more than his teammate Phillipe Coutinho.

Phil Jagielka – 7

It was looking increasingly likely that Phil Jagielka would end his career tied with Wes Brown on six Premier League own goals. The long-serving Everton man only appeared in seven league games during the 2018/19 season and then one fewer the following year for Sheffield United. The seventh own goal did eventually come though as several defensive injuries saw Jagielka enjoy a run of games at the tail end of the season. His own goal in a tight affair against Yorkshire rivals Leeds United condemned the Blades to a 24th league defeat and moved them one step closer to an inevitable looking relegation.

Jamie Carragher – 7

Our last man with the shame of being joint-second on the Premier League all-time own goals list is Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher. Unlike both Skrtel and Jagielka, Carragher is the only one to actually have a net negative of goals for his club. In over 500 league games for the Reds, the schoolboy Everton fan only ever celebrated three goals, giving him an overall contribution of minus four. Rather puts paid to the Liverpool fans’ notion that a team of XI Carraghers would be the way to go! Poor old Jamie also had to deal with scoring two own goals against rivals Manchester United during the 1999/00 season. Aged just 21 at the time, even some Red Devils fans might have felt just a little sorry for him. But then again maybe not!

Richard Dunne – 10

When it comes to Premier League own goals, no player comes close to matching Richard Dunne. In addition to being joint top as the league’s most sent-off player, he also has the shame of being the all-time own goal scorer. Across 431 matches, the Irishman steered the ball into his own net 10 times. Most would agree that he was a fine and hugely committed centre back for much of his career but there is no doubting he was clumsy at times. His 10th and final own goal, in October 2014, was especially memorable as the 3-2 loss over Liverpool saw two other men, Steven Gerrard and Steven Caulker, also convert at the wrong end.

Scottish Premiership

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It is time now to move northwards across the border to look at the Scottish Premiership where there is one clear winner in the own goal stakes.

Stephen Craigan – 8

Cursed central defender Stephen Craigan amassed 12 own goals over the course of his career with eight of them coming in the Scottish top flight. Some others he collected while on international duty, managing to score goals on behalf of Spain and Portugal while on duty for Northern Ireland. As a youngster, teammates were no doubt supportive when such incidents occurred but as he got older sympathy turned into ridicule. When scoring his final own goal against Dundee United, goalkeeper Darren Randolph told the press that the whole squad had a chuckle at his expense. They might not have been in such a laughing mood mind you had Michael Higdon not rescued a point late on for The Well.

German Bundesliga

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We shall now turn our attention to Germany where there are two players that share the pain of being the league’s leading own goal scorers.

Manfred Kaltz – 6

When German football fans think of Manfred Kaltz, many will associate him with his bending deliveries from out wide. They curved so much that many referred to them as ‘banana crosses’ or rather bananenflanken. Horst Hrubesch was frequently on the receiving end of these, with a sizeable amount of his 96 Hamburg goals down to Kaltz’s crossing ability. This however is an article of disgrace, not praise, so let us remind you that Kaltz, for all his ability, amassed six own goals in the Bundesliga including three during one season (1977/78).

Nikolce Noveski – 6

This 6ft 3 inch centre back spent much of his time in Germany with Mainz 05. He was also a big player within the Macedonia squad, amassing 64 caps and five goals for his country. While Noveskia has plenty to be proud of, one thing he will not look back on fondly is his total of six own goals. Somewhat remarkably, two of them came within the opening six minutes during a home game to Eintracht Frankfurt. Noveski did manage to halve the deficit he himself created by pulling one back in the second half before teammate Petr Ruman added another in the 90th minute.

Italian Serie A

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Now it is time to move to Italy, a place renowned for its love of top class defending. The system of Catenaccio, which translate to ‘door-bolt’, was designed to restriction opposition chances. It may not be used so much now but for decades it was synonymous with Italian football. By spending so much time in and around your own area though, this does increase the risk of turning the ball into your own box, as the two men below demonstrate.

Franco Baresi – 8

A rather surprising name given his unbelievable quality but AC Milan legend is indeed one of the two players tied on eight Serie A own goals. Considered by many to be among the best defenders of all-time, one of his very few flaws was knocking the ball past his own goalkeeper. Quite a big flaw for sure but one that does little to take away from his brilliance as a player. One of the own goals he would have most wanted to forget came in the Milan derby, with the scoreline at 0-0. Baresi’s blushes were eventually spared though as AC did recover to win the game 2-1.

Riccardo Ferri – 8

Although not a household name like joint top own goal scorer Baresi, Riccardo Ferri did enjoy a fine career that featured 45 caps for Italy. The bulk of his club career was also spent in Milan, but at arch-rivals Inter. Although eight own goals is difficult to excuse for any player, Baresi did at least amass 532 Serie A appearances, so one OG every 66.5 games. By contrast, Ferri played 326 league matches, meaning he was significantly more “clinical” in front of his own goal.

French Ligue 1

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With three players tied on five goals, we will not include a dedicated section for all the individuals involved. We will however mention the responsible trio by name: Damien Da Silva, Maxence Flachez and Jean-Guy Wallemme. It is worth noting that Da Silva is the only still-active player of the trio so he will have opportunity to become the outright leader providing he can get top flight playing time.

A special mention must also go to Aly Cissokho, the former Liverpool defender, who notched up four own goals during his fairly short time in Ligue 1. Not only did he manage this from left back, but he did so in just 93 games, giving him an extremely high own goals per minute ratio.

Spanish La Liga

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There is a similar situation in Spain as there is in France with several players tied on five own-goals. In La Liga’s case though, there are four men tied at the top, with one of them still active. From the trio of retirees, you have Sergi Barjuan, Fernando Caceres and the interesting case of Loren. We say interesting because Loren played as both a centre-back and striker, an unusual combination especially for someone not even 6ft tall. His versatility means he is the only player across all lists that is not fully a defender by trade.

It could be that Sergi, Caceres and Loren all get knocked down a position if Jordi Alba can register another own goal before he retires. The Barcelona left-back made it number five during a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in January 2021 and what a finish it was too. With his weaker right foot, the then 31-year-old managed to find the bottom corner on the volley. It’s not the first time Alba has shown an accidental touch of class in such embarrassing moments. During a 5-4 win over Deportivo, the Spaniard lifted a quite delightful lob over a helpless Victor Valdez. Our money is firmly on Alba taking an unwanted solo hold on this record before too long.

Billy Balmer’s 8 Own Goals

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Finally, if it makes the above culprits feel any better, they ought to know that scoring plenty of own goals is not a new phenomenon as our next individual will demonstrate. Defenders turning the ball into their own net has been part and parcel of the game’s origins and long may it continue.

With a playing career that ended in 1912, it is hard to find too much information on one-time England international Billy Balmer. What we do know though is that Balmer netted nine goals during his time at Everton which spanned over 300 appearances. Only one of these however came at the right end, meaning Balmer was always a much bigger threat to his own goalkeeper than the opposition’s. His sole goal for, rather than against, the Toffees came from the penalty spot too so you would assume his teammates were feeling sorry for him by this point.

Stan van den Buijs – Own Goal Hat-Trick

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Whilst thus far we have looked at own goals across a player’s career, perhaps the worst thing in football is to score not one, but two own goals in the same game. Has this ever happened? Has a player ever scored more than two own goals in a match? Well, leaving aside the rather comical 149-0 protest match in Madagascan football, the most own goals by a single player during one game is actually three.

Stan van den Buijs, who played for Germinal Ekeren as a defender, notched the highly unwanted hat-trick “for” Anderlecht in a 3-2 defeat to the Belgian giants in January 1995. Whilst he is “credited” with all three, subsequent analysis of footage of the game in fact suggests that the third goal was actually scored by an attacker.

If we are to be kind to the Belgian defender then that means he is actually tied on two own goals with a number of players over the years. The other most notable instance of a player netting twice at the wrong end came in 1961, when Sicilian side Catania lost 5-0 to Inter. Incredibly four of those goals were own goals scored by Catania and it was the unfortunate Franco Giavara who was doubly culpable, netting a brace for the Milanese side.