Rabona

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain performing a rabona while warming up for Arsenal in 2013

In association football, the rabona is the technique of kicking the football where the kicking leg is crossed behind the back of the standing leg.

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 (more colloquially, the player has "no left"), 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 their own ability, as it is considered a skilful trick at any level.

History

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 Estudiantes de la Plata and Rosario Central in 1948. 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 kid who plays hooky"). Another supposed origin for the name is that Rabona is derived from the Spanish word 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).

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).

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: Billy Winser, Fernando Redondo, Alan Ball, Diego Maradona, Romário, Roberto Baggio, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Claudio Borghi, Matías Fernández, Matías Urbano, Mário Jardel, David Villa, Ariel Ortega, Robinho, Alberto Aquilani, Raúl Jiménez, Eden Hazard, Joe Cole, Ángel Di María, Rivaldo, Ricardo Quaresma, Erik Lamela, Pablo Aimar, Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Carlos, Neymar, Luis Suárez, Jay-Jay Okocha.

Other players who have also used this skill successfully during a competitive match are: Amr Elsolia, Andrés Vasquez, Djalminha, Fahad Al Enezi, Thomas Müller, Manolis Skoufalis, Léo Lima, Marcos Rojo, Érik Lamela (once in the River Plate youth sides, once in 2014, and once in 2021), Marcelo Carrusca, Jordan Henderson, Dimitri Payet, Carlos Bacca, Fabrizio Miccoli, Mario Balotelli, Jonathan Calleri, Diego Perotti, Mikael Lustig, Eran Zahavi, and Robert Lewandowski, among many others; Johnny Giles of Leeds United also performed one in the famous sequence of possession against Southampton in 1972 during a 7–0 win.

Other sports and uses

American football

Other uses

  • The rabona is a dance step used in the tango. The dance step takes its name from the football kick.
  • In Argentina and Bolivia the term "rabona" refers to camp followers, women who followed the army, cooking and serving their husbands, fathers and partners who were soldiers, providing nursing services, carrying their arms and munitions, and gathering intelligence which could assist the military.

See also