Can A Defender Score A Goal

Can A Defender Score A Goal? (Explained)

Last updated on March 16th, 2022

Defenders are usually the outfield players positioned the furthest back on the pitch, where their primary responsibility is to defend their team against the opponent’s attack.

Since they play in such defensive positions, can they actually score a goal?

Here’s what you need to know:

Can a defender score a goal?

According to Law 10 in the Laws of the Game, the ability to score a goal is not solely restricted to the strikers, and any player on the field can score a goal. Both centre backs and full-backs can readily contribute to the goalscoring for their team when necessary. 

There are no rules which restrict the goalscoring to just strikers, such as in other sports. So long as a player kicks or heads the ball across the line, a goal will be scored.

However, if the ball hits the player’s hand, they will commit a handball offence and the goal will not count.

The rules of offside will apply to the defenders as well, and they won’t score a goal if an offside offence is committed.

In what situations do defenders score goals?

Although the defenders are the most restricted outfield players, they can step up in the attack. These contributions come from various situations in both outfield and set-pieces. 

If you’re wondering about the terms used when a player scores more than 3 goals, you can check out this guide here.

Corner Kicks

The corner kick is one of the common set-piece opportunities in football exploited to score goals.

In this setup, the ball is usually delivered to players lined up in the penalty box. The corner kick may be taken directly or indirectly

The corner kick is also one of the set pieces where you can’t be called offside.

Direct Corner Kick

In the direct approach, the set-piece taker swings in a delivery straight from the corner flag. The players in the box are usually arranged according to the respective tactical setup. 

From this delivery, they can score by headers or shots.

Here is an example of Sergio Ramos scoring a headed goal in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.

Ramos is also known for being a formidable captain while he was playing for Real Madrid.

Indirect Corner Kick

The indirect approach is when the corner is taken short and passed to a player nearby. The players can then choose to cross the ball into the box or pass it to a player to shoot.

If you want to dribble the ball directly from a corner kick, you will need to put the ball in play first. Otherwise, the corner kick taker will need to pass the ball to his teammate.

Defenders usually score many goals from corner kicks in games. Such goals are common because the defenders can use their aerial superiority and strength to score

However, it is also quite possible for the corner kick taker to score directly from a corner kick as well!


The freekick is another common set-piece opportunity in football. These arise when an opposition player commits a physical foul, including handballs and offside.

Freekicks can be awarded in every area of the pitch. The dangerous ones are usually designated near the penalty box

However, if you’re in an offside position before a free kick is taken, you will be called offside!

These dangerous freekicks provide an opportunity for the players, defenders included, to score goals. Like corner kicks, the free kick can be approached in two different ways:

Indirect Freekicks 

In this approach, the set-piece taker usually swings in a cross from the freekick spot. Thus, the ball is delivered to the awaiting players in the box who take advantage to score

Here is Aymeric Laporte from Manchester City scoring from an indirect free-kick.

Once again, the defenders with superior aerial ability can take a chance at the goal.

Direct Freekicks

This approach involves a direct strike at the goal from the freekick spot. Usually, the full-backs (RB and LB) are rather good freekick takers.

Here is left-back (LB) Lucas Digne scoring a direct free kick for Everton,

and Alexander-Arnold who is a rather prolific freekick taker.

Penalty Kicks

The referee awards a penalty kick once a foul is committed in the penalty box. It provides an excellent opportunity for teams to score. The penalty taker is up against the keeper from 12 yards out in this situation.

However, penalty kicks are usually tense, as easy as they may seem. A calculated composure and precise finishing are required to score a penalty. Thus, defenders that possess these qualities step up for their teams in such situations. 

Leighton Baines of Everton is a prolific penalty taker, having one of the best penalty records in the Premier League.

If the defender has the correct run-up, he may trick the goalkeeper to dive the wrong way. However, if the ball hits the post, the defender is unable to score from the rebound.

Running Upfield

Like every other outfield player, the defenders are welcome to make calculated runs up the pitch to support the attack. The fullbacks in football usually aid in attack and can get in good positions to score

Here is Joel Matip scoring a goal by running upfield against Leeds United.

As a centre back, you can also step up to support the attack like Gerard Pique does for Barcelona. However, you will need to ensure not to leave your defence vulnerable to attack. 

Long-range Shots

Football is always full of pleasant surprises. Shots from long range are always a delight when effective in football. Although rarely, defenders can also produce such magical moments and successfully score from a long distance.

Here is Emre Can scoring a long-shot goal for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

In another example, Daniel Agger scored this long-shot goal for his first goal for Liverpool.

Famous Examples

There are many great goalscoring defenders in football. Some of them are:

#1 Sergio Ramos

The Spaniard is one of the greatest defenders in history. He was a defensive colossus for Real Madrid for a long time until his summer exit to PSG. Under his watch, both his club and country attained incredible heights.

While being an astute defender, Ramos also made notable contributions to the attacking output of his teams.

His impressive goalscoring skills have borne great fruit, where Ramos’ total career tally stands at 123 goals.

#2 Roberto Carlos

This Brazilian legend is notable for his mind-blowing freekicks. He is one of the best fullbacks of all time who achieved so much for both club and country. 

His attacking runs, powerful shots and other techniques were of great use to his teams.

Throughout his illustrious career, his goal tally ended at a whopping 108.  

#3 Ronald Koeman 

As another colossal defender, Koeman was heavily instrumental to the success of Barcelona in the 90s. He won many accolades with the club and also starred for his country, the Netherlands.

Koeman remains remarkable for his powerful shots and freekicks. He scored 239 goals throughout his career, which remains the highest for any defender in history. Many of these goals were crucial to the success of his teams.


A defender is able to score goals like any other player on the field, just like a goalkeeper. There are no rules that prevent them for scoring!

It is very common for defenders to step up and make a difference on the scoreline for their teams.

There may be times when the player becomes too passionate and takes off his shirt during the celebration. In such a scenario, he will be given a yellow card by the referee.

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