During any game of football, the main objective is to put the ball into your opponent’s goal as many times as possible. Although the opposition will attempt to stop you, occasionally they end up accidentally helping you out by firing past their own goalkeeper. Being handed a goal by the other team is always a welcome gift and as we will soon see, some teams are far more giving than others.
Every team will have scored an goal at one point or another but some have a real gift for it. Which are the teams that truly excel at scoring at the wrong end of the pitch though? Let us take a look at the top examples from around Europe, and further afield, as we try and find the club kings of the own goal world.
Premier League: Everton
At the time of writing, Everton had notched up 55 own goals in the Premier League, putting them on top spot. This should not come as any great surprise given that they are only one of six teams to have played in all Premier League seasons and from these six they have the most defeats. It will take a little while for the Toffees to be knocked off their unwanted perch too as Aston Villa, who are in second place, trail by six goals. 20% of Everton’s current total is purely down to two men named Phil – Jagielka and Neville. During their time at Goodison, the pair netted six and five own goals respectively, with “Jags” up near the top of the individual table for most own goals in the Premier League.
Bundesliga: Eintracht Frankfurt
The Bundesliga as we know it today was founded in 1963 and the only team to have played every season within the top flight is Bayern Munich. Our own goal champions, Eintracht Frankfurt, are not too far behind though, ranking fifth for seasons played (53 as of 2021/22). During this time, the north German outfit have recorded 63 own goals but their position at the top is not overly comfortable. Coming into the season and Eintracht only led Werder Bremen by two goals. There was no immediate danger posed by Bremen however as Die Werderaner were down playing football in the second tier. Only if and when Bremen get themselves promoted will their own goals move them closer to Frankfurt’s record.
Serie A: Lazio
The age of Serie A means that big Italians teams post some very large own goal tallies. Five teams (Juventus, Napoli, Roma, Inter) all have over 100 OGs to their name but none have quite as many as Lazio. At the start of the 2021/22 season, the Rome-based side had recorded 123 own goals. From them all, the most memorable is perhaps the one scored by accidental Roma legend Paolo Negro.
To be clear, Negro never played a game for Roma but the Giallorossi faithful think of him fondly thanks to the own goal he scored in their favour during the 2000/01 season. Ahead of what was an incredibly tense Derby della Capitale, Roma were topping the table with their bitter rivals in fourth spot. After 70 minutes the deadlock remained unbroken but then Alessandro Nesta cleared the ball right into Negro who could do nothing but deflect it into his own goal. Roma went on to win the match and indeed the title by a mere two points.
Ligue 1: PSG
You will have to forgive us a little here as it is difficult to find data going back extremely far. Perhaps if we were fluent in French it might be a little easier but alas we will make do with what we have. Figures dating back to 1980 show us that PSG are the French team with the biggest knack for turning the ball into their own net, doing so 57 times (up until 2021). It may seem shocking to hear now, given how much of a dominant force the Parisians are, but bear in mind that between 1980 and 2012, they only won the league title twice. Additionally, Monaco could well overtake them soon given that Ruben Aguilar’s header in August 2021 put their overall tally up to 54.
Do not think that simply uttering the phrase own goal, or at least the French equivalent, will make PSG fans shiver, because they are also the biggest beneficiaries of own goals. While they have turned the ball into their own net 57 times, the opposition did the same to them on 85 occasions between 1980 and 2021. This is a huge amount more than the second next team, Lyon, who have been helped out with scoring 56 times.
La Liga: Atletico Madrid
In all the other leagues covered so far, there is either a fairly comfortably own goals leader or there are two teams close together at the top. The situation in La Liga is far more competitive though with five teams all in real danger of claiming the unwanted top spot. Ahead of the 2021/22 season, Atletico Madrid were narrowly in the lead, having record 70 own goals. Trailing them were Real Sociedad on 68, local rivals Real Madrid on 67 and then both Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol on 66. Even Barcelona on 63 are not completely out of contention if they keep Jordi Alba on their books, as no player has scored more La Liga own goals than the Spaniard.
From the six teams mentioned above, five of them have played the most top flight seasons in Spain. The odd one out is Real Sociedad who have played 75 seasons, which is between 10 to 16 fewer than all the rest, giving them a worse own goals to season ratio. Back to our current leaders Atletico though, and for all the own goal pain they have endured over the years, remember that it is not a one way street. Against Villarreal, Los Colchoneros managed to rescue a point through the most easily avoidable of own goals with just seconds left on the clock.
Worldwide: Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne
As own goal records for so many professional clubs from years gone by simply do not exist, at least online, you cannot say with absolute certainty which team has scored the most goals in footballing history. We have to think that Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne are firmly up there though, if not the number one side.
Whether you count their own goals as officially valid is a different matter though, after they intentionally scored 149 own goals during a match with AS Adema. SO l’Emyrne, who were the defending Madagascan champions at the time, repeatedly put the ball in the back of their own net in a form of protest against the referee.
Still very sore from the decision that robbed them of a successful title defence, SO l’Emyrne needed very little to bring the game to chaos. After one early decision went against their favour, manager Ratsimandresy Ratsarazaka ordered his side to protest by scoring own goals. Whether he meant as many as 149 only he will know but either way, this smashed the record for most goals scored at the game. The title was previously held by Scottish outfit Arbroath who beat Bon Accord 36-0 in 1885. Several players, including the Madagascar national team captain, and Ratsarazaka were suspended until the end of the season but isn’t that a small price to pay for making footballing history?
Catania – Most (Unintentional) Own Goals In A Game
There have been a few examples of teams scoring three own goals in match before. Brighton managed this almost impressive feat during a 6-1 defeat to Liverpool, becoming the first team to do so in an FA Cup tie. Belgian outfit Germinal Ekeren were also responsible for all five goals scored during a 3-2 loss to Anderlecht. In this particular case, Stan van den Buijs, was guilty for all three own goals himself, an incredibly unwanted hat-trick at the wrong end of the pitch.
Four own goals in a high-level game has only been managed by one team though. Responsible for this was Catania, newly promoted to Serie A in 1960, who were facing a game against Inter Milan at the San Siro. The hosts opened the scoring through Egidio Morbello but then Catania’s own Franco Giavara (who notched two OGs!), Elio Grani and Mario Corti made absolutely certain of the win. Before you think Catania were a shambolic side, the Sicilians did actually manage to finish eighth that year and beat Inter 2-0 in the reverse fixture.
World Cup: Mexico
So far, all our focus has been on club football but international teams are far from immune when it comes to scoring own goals. The World Cup finals is one of the worst times to score at the wrong end but including the 2018 edition of the tournament, 53 of the 2500+ goals were officially recorded as own goals. From these, no country can top Mexico’s haul of four. The first OG came during the very first World Cup in 1930, courtesy of Manuel Rosas, the player who also converted the first penalty at the tournament.
More recently, Edson Alvarez turned into his own net against Sweden during the 2018 group stages. As far as own goals go, this was as painless as they come with Mexico having already qualified for the group stages and the game already looking lost. His mistake did however ensure that Mexico’s record of losing when scoring an own goal at the World Cup continued.
European Championship: Portugal
In total 17 teams have scored an own goal at the Euros, but only two of them have done so more than once. One of the guilty nations is Slovakia, relative newcomers to the international stage, who were one of many countries to suffer at the hands of the cursed 2020 Euros. A truly bizarre tournament saw 11 own goals scored, which is two more than there had been at all other 15 European Championships combined. In Slovakia’s case, both came in the same game, a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Spain.
Leading the way with three own goals at the Euros is however Portugal. Like many teams, they did suffer at the hands of the OG in 2020 and so crucially too. Fernando Santo’s men were 1-0 up before own goals from Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro put Germany ahead in what ended up as a 4-2 defeat. Their other own goal came in 2004 but Jorge Andrade’s sliced lob only proved to be a consolation goal for the Netherlands, with the Iberians able to hold out and progress as 2-1 winners in the semi-final battle.