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World Cup Memorable MomentsEdit

Brazilian brilliance (Mexico 1970)

If the quality of a goal is amplified by the context in which it is scored, then Brazil’s fourth in the 1970 World Cup final has no equal. To produce your best on the biggest stage is the hallmark of greatness and Brazil did just that in Mexico. Italy were crushed 4-1 in the showpiece and the final goal underlined why football truly is the beautiful game. The move began with Tostao, deep in his own half, before Clodoaldo took centre stage with a jinking run that left four Italians chasing shadows, and then Rivelino swept a pass down the line to Jairzinho, who cut inside to pick out Pele, with the striker pausing briefly before rolling the ball into the path of the onrushing Carlos Alberto to provide a thunderbolt finish across the goalkeeper.

Zidane sees red (Germany 2006)

A career characterised by excellence ended in disgrace when Zinedine Zidane succumbed to his temper and headbutted Italy's Marco Materazzi in the chest in the 2006 final. It was deep into extra time when the French midfield maestro jogged past Materazzi, heard something untoward, turned and planted his head into the defender's chest. He was shown the red card and passed the famous World Cup trophy, situated pitch-side, as he made the long walk off the field with his head bowed. Materazzi, who had cancelled out Zidane’s opener, also scored in the penalty shootout as Italy were crowned champions.

Cameroon stun holders (Italy 1990)

Cameroon recorded one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history when they beat defending champions Argentina in the opening match of the 1990 World Cup in Italy. The holders were, naturally, strong favourites to prevail and started the game brightly, putting the Africans under pressure as a side led by Diego Maradona sensed an opportunity. Cameroon's task was made all the more difficult by Andre Kana-Biyik's dismissal just past the hour mark but, remarkably, his brother Francois Omam-Biyik put them ahead just six minutes later, with a little help from goalkeeper Nery Pumpido's error. Benjamin Massing followed Kana-Biyik down the tunnel late on after also being sent off but Cameroon held on to make history. They were eventually dumped out of the tournament by England at the quarter-final stage.

Maradona's 'Hand of God' (Mexico 1986)

Diego Maradona went from the ridiculous to the sublime in just four second-half minutes against England at Mexico '86. The Argentina striker scored twice after the break to steer his country safely through the quarter-final tie but the first of his goals was marred by controversy. Leaping to connect with Steve Hodge's sliced clearance, Maradona clenched a fist above his head and punched the ball past Peter Shilton. England appealed in vain but were helpless to prevent the diminutive forward doubling Argentina's advantage with a sublime piece of skill soon afterwards - this time fully within the laws of the game - as he embarked on a stunning solo run from his own half and slotted home. The Argentina captain claimed that the first goal was scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God", while the second remains one of the most iconic of all time for altogether more satisfactory reasons.

Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp! (France 1998)

There are moments in football so brilliant that you can do little more than stare, open mouthed, trying to comprehend what you have just seen. But Dennis Bergkamp's goal for the Netherlands against Argentina at France 1998 deserved more than that, and Dutch commentator Jack van Gelder duly delivered. After Bergkamp had pulled down an 80-yard pass from Frank de Boer as though it was the simplest task in the world, he deftly stepped inside Roberto Ayala and fired home a 90th-minute winner with the outside of his right foot to seal a spot in the semi-finals. It was almost more than Van Gelder could take and he simply repeated Bergkamp's full name, with excitement levels beyond measure, eight times in a row.

The Battle of Santiago (Chile 1962)

Never has a World Cup game been the scene of such violence as when Chile beat Italy 2-0 in what became known as the 'Battle of Santiago' in 1962. Italian Giorgio Ferrini, dismissed early on in the match for a foul on Honorino Landa, was not the only casualty.  Humberto Maschio had his nose broken by the flailing fists of Chilean forward Leonel Sanchez, who somehow escaped the attention of English referee Ken Aston but could not avoid being kicked in the head by Mario David soon afterwards. David followed Ferrini down the tunnel after being shown the second red card of the match during a game that was so out of control that the police had to intervene at points to disperse the warring opponents.

Banks' wonder save (Mexico 1970)

Pele versus Gordon Banks in the group-stage clash between Brazil and England at Mexico '70 was like a working demonstration of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. It was goalkeeper Banks who prevailed, even if his side - the defending champions - eventually lost 1-0. Time and time again the Stoke City goalkeeper thwarted the legendary Pele, with one save in particular earning its place in World Cup folklore. Pele’s downward header seemed to be going in all the way - too powerful, too close to the corner for anyone to keep out. But not Banks, who flung himself to his right and somehow pushed the ball up and over the goal. Pele could not believe it. Watch it now and you probably still will not either.

Baggio blazes over (USA 1994)

Four players missed penalties in the first World Cup final shootout between Brazil and Italy but only one is remembered universally. Roberto Baggio went in to the 1994 tournament in the United States as one of the most revered players in world football and yet it is the image of Italy's 'Divine Ponytail' standing with his hands on his hips after blazing the ball over the crossbar that endures. Baggio had suffered a hamstring injury in the semi-final win over Bulgaria, in which he scored two goals, and he was not fully fit for the final. The hopes of a nation rested on his shoulders but ultimately, his miss handed the title to Brazil.

I can't stand here much Ilunga (West Germany 1974)

Some people have had to do incredible things to ensure their footballing immortality but Mwepu Ilunga simply jogged 10 yards and booted the ball downfield. It was a somewhat bizarre act, given that Ilunga had broken from his position in Zaire’s defensive wall to strike a ball that had been placed - and was still not in play - for a free-kick to Brazil during their group-stage clash at the 1974 tournament. Ilunga was shown a yellow card for his actions but later insisted that the whole thing had been an act of defiance after he and his team-mates had discovered that they would not be paid.

Schumacher's horror challenge (Spain 1982)

West Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher's foul on France's Patrick Battiston at the 1982 tournament is regarded as one of the worst in football history. The World Cup semi-final match in Seville was not short on drama, featuring six goals - four of them in extra time - and a penalty shootout. But it was Schumacher's borderline assault on his French opponent that created all the headlines. Battiston raced through to get a toe-end on Michel Platini's pass but, as his shot flew narrowly wide, the defender felt the full force of Schumacher’s hip in his face after the goalkeeper inexplicably leapt into him, rendering the defender unconscious as he was carried from the pitch. Schumacher had another defining contribution to make as he saved from Maxime Bossis in the shootout to give Germany victory.

World Cup Controversy Edit

The 'Hand of God' (Mexico 1986)

In the space of just four second-half minutes, Argentina's Diego Maradona scored two of the most memorable goals in World Cup history at Mexico '86 - but the first should never have been allowed. In a grudge match with England fuelled by bitterness left over from the Falklands War, Argentina took the lead when the then-Napoli striker reached out a clenched fist to turn home a miscued clearance from Steve Hodge. Maradona himself coined the phrase 'Hand of God' to describe his intervention, but he showed his pure genius with a second strike soon afterwards, later to be given the title of 'The Goal of the Century'.

Six minutes too soon (Uruguay 1930)

Almeida Rego was the first referee to write himself into World Cup folklore way back at the tournament's inaugural showpiece in 1930 but the Brazilian could at least blame his watch. Officiating a match between France and Argentina, Rego seemed to have some technical issues with his timepiece when he blew the final whistle, despite the fact that there were still six minutes remaining in the contest, which Argentina led 1-0. He noticed his error after protests from the French, who were dismayed that Marcel Langiller's run on goal had been brought to a premature halt. The game finally resumed but France could not find an equaliser.

Italians cry foul (Japan and South Korea 2002)

Italian domestic football has been no stranger to allegations of corruption but in 2002 Italy manager Giovanni Trapattoni felt that his side had been the victims of foul play. Co-hosts South Korea knocked the Europeans out of the competition at the last-16 stage, although referee Byron Moreno's performance drew widespread criticism. South Korea were given a questionable penalty, Damiano Tommasi saw a golden goal controversially ruled out for offside and Francesco Totti was shown a second yellow card for a supposed dive. The Italian media lead the vehement protests but no conspiracy was ever proven.

The 'Battle of Santiago' (Chile 1962)

It took just 12 seconds for Chile's match against Italy at the 1962 finals to produce its first foul and eight minutes before the first red card was shown.  In the modern game, many more would have followed but only one further dismissal was deemed necessary by referee Ken Aston, despite the game featuring several outbursts of violence. Chilean Leonel Sanchez escaped sanction after throwing two punches and breaking Humberto Maschio's nose, while Italy's Mario David followed team-mate Giorgio Ferrini down the tunnel after kicking Sanchez in the head. The match, which Chile won 2-0, became known as the 'Battle of Santiago'.

Three yellows for Simunic (Germany 2006)

Most people agree that referees have a tough job but the ability to count to two is a prerequisite. English official Graham Poll found that out to his cost when he failed to send off Croatia's Josip Simunic despite booking him twice in the match against Australia. Poll later revealed that Australian-born Simunic's accent had caused him to record the defender's second booking as a yellow for Australia's number three, Craig Moore. Still, Simunic got his red in the end after remonstrating with the official at the final whistle and being booked for a third time.

Did it cross the line? (England 1966)

England's only World Cup triumph might never have happened if goal-line technology had existed in 1966. With the scores level at 2-2 in extra time, England striker Geoff Hurst lashed a powerful close-range effort against the underside of the crossbar and watched as the ball bounce down and back into play. Confusion reigned as England players were torn between celebrating and appealing to the officials. Referee Gottfried Dienst consulted Soviet linesman Tofik Bakhramov and awarded the goal. Hurst later completed his hat-trick in a 4-2 Wembley win for the hosts.

Zidane sees red (Germany 2006)

Legendary France midfielder Zinedine Zidane wrote an unwanted final chapter into his glittering career history when he received a red card for headbutting Italy defender Marco Materazzi in the chest during the final of the 2006 World Cup in Germany on what proved to be his last international appearance. France went on to lose on penalties and Zidane - one of the most gifted players of his generation - retired from football, having made 108 appearances for his country during which time he won both the World Cup and European Championships.

The fascist salute (France 1938)

As war threatened to rage again in Europe, defending champions Italy stirred up one of the most unwanted episodes in World Cup history at France 1938. A kit clash in their quarter-final tie with the hosts meant that Italy were asked to play in their alternate white kit, but the country's leader, Benito Mussolini, ordered them to wear black, a symbol of the Italian fascist paramilitary. Mussolini also demanded that the players make a fascist salute before kick-off, enraging the gathered crowd and casting a dark shadow over the tournament.

Moore trouble for England (Mexico 1970)

Defending champions England saw their 1970 campaign get off to an inauspicious start before they had even landed in Mexico. A stop-off in Colombia provided a dramatic twist when captain and national hero Bobby Moore - the man who had lifted the famous trophy at Wembley four years earlier - was arrested after being accused of stealing an emerald bracelet. After serving four days under house arrest, the imposing centre-back joined his team-mates in the unsuccessful defence of their title. He was later cleared of all charges.

Sheikh shakes things up (Spain 1982)

Kuwait, making their first appearance at a World Cup, trailed 3-1 to France in a group match at Spain '82 when Alain Giresse appeared to have scored a fourth to send them even further behind. Claiming that they had heard a whistle from the crowd and stopped playing, the goal was fiercely contested by the Kuwaitis, who threatened to walk off the pitch in protest. They were eventually joined on the touchline by Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the president of the Kuwaiti Football Association. Being the brother of the country's emir, he carried significant influence and while his unexpected presence prevented a walk-off, it also appeared to sway the mind of referee Miroslav Stupar, who ultimately disallowed the goal. Maxime Bossis later made it 4-1 anyway.

World Cup GreatsEdit

Diego Maradona (Argentina) 

Never has a player been so dominant at a World Cup as Diego Maradona was at Mexico '86.

As breathtaking as he was controversial, Maradona scored or assisted 10 of Argentina's 14 goals on their way to winning the trophy, scoring two of the most memorable efforts of all time in their quarter-final win over England.

The first will be forever laced in controversy as his 'Hand of God' was not spotted by Tunisian referee Ali Bennaceur, but his second - slaloming through the England team before rounding Peter Shilton and slotting home - remains one of the most iconic strikes of all time.

In the final, West Germany's attempts to shackle Maradona looked to have paid off until he finally shook off the attentions of Lothar Matthaus with seven minutes to play and set up Jorge Burruchaga's winner.

In total, Maradona scored eight times in 21 World Cup appearances, as well as coaching his country to the quarter-finals at South Africa 2010.

Pele (Brazil)

Alongside Maradona, Pele is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, with his haul of three World Cup winners' medals unrivalled.

As a precocious 17-year-old, Pele struck six times in four appearances at the 1958 tournament in Sweden, including a semi-final hat-trick against France and a double in the showpiece against the hosts.

Injuries limited his appearances at the 1962 edition - although he picked up a medal for Brazil's triumph - and he was curtailed by his fitness again in 1966.

However, it was Mexico '70 where Pele sealed his World Cup legacy, being named player of the tournament as part of a lethal forward line including Rivelino, Jairzinho and Tostao that tormented their opponents - culminating in a 4-1 final win over Italy, arguably the most dominant trophy-winning performance in history.

Ronaldo (Brazil)

The stats speak for themselves: no player has scored more goals on the world's biggest stage than 'O Fenomeno'.

A non-playing squad member in Brazil's 1994 success, Ronaldo was one of the deadliest strikers in the world when France '98 arrived, although he made headlines for the wrong reasons when he was surprisingly omitted from the initial teamsheet for the final - reportedly after suffering a fit the night before the game brought on by the weight of expectation upon him - before eventually taking to the field and turning in a below-par performance as Brazil succumbed 3-0 to the hosts.

The former Inter, Real Madrid and Milan frontman had the last laugh though, plundering eight goals en route to the 2002 final including a brace in the showpiece win over Germany.

In 2006 he went on to score the goals required to overtake German legend Gerd Muller at the top of the all-time list, leaving him on 15 World Cup goals.

Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)

German legend Franz Beckenbauer - nicknamed 'Der Kaiser' - is the only man to have captained and coached his nation to World Cup glory. However, near-misses could easily have dogged Beckenbauer's career. 

After featuring in the 1966 final defeat to England, four years later at Mexico '70 he and West Germany were edged out after extra time in the semi-finals against Italy.

On home turf in 1974 though, he finally tasted glory - leading a defence that conceded just four goals in seven games to win the trophy.

Having won everything there was to win as a player, Beckenbauer repeated the trick as a coach at Italia '90 as his West Germany side ground out an ill-tempered 1-0 win over Argentina in Rome.

Zinedine Zidane (France)

A two-time finalist, and one-time winner, Zinedine Zidane was the finest playmaker of his generation and will go down among the most stellar names in the game.

After two fine seasons with Juventus, Zidane came into France '98 expected to be pivotal to the host nation's efforts.

A red card in their second group game against Saudi Arabia limited his contribution, but he was in sensational form against Croatia in the semi-final and scored two bullet headers in the final itself in Paris.

Eight years later, after injury had ruined his 2002 tournament, he came out of retirement to propel France to Germany 2006 and then to an unlikely spot in the final, netting against Spain and Portugal on the way.

After scoring an impudent penalty in the seventh minute of the showpiece against Italy, Zidane's game - the last of his professional career - ended in infamy as he was sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi and the Italians went on to win via a shootout.

Gerd Muller (West Germany)

While Franz Beckenbauer was regally patrolling West Germany's defence earning his 'Kaiser' moniker, Gerd Muller was at the other end of the pitch plundering goals in such a fashion that it earned him just as fitting a nickname - 'Der Bomber'. 

Though not physically domineering, Muller's eye for goal and quick thinking often saw him beat defenders to the ball, while a good leap for a man of only 1.76metres would often catch out unsuspecting markers.

Muller scored 10 goals at Mexico '70 as West Germany exited in the semi-finals to Italy, before four years later, on home soil, his goals helped them to the trophy - including scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in the final.

Though the Bayern Munich striker's total tally of 14 final goals was eventually surpassed by Ronaldo, it is worth noting that the German reached his total in just 13 games, while the Brazilian took 19.

Bobby Moore (England)
Being carried on the shoulders of Ray Wilson and England's hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft - the triumphant image of Bobby Moore celebrating World Cup victory in 1966 neatly sums up one of the finest defenders of all time.

Moore first got a taste of the World Cup at Chile 1962, before taking the England captaincy from Johnny Haynes a year later.

He subsequently helped inspire his country to their sole World Cup win as part of a defence that kept four consecutive clean sheets - a run that would have stretched to five but for a late Eusebio penalty in the semi-final win over Portugal. 

But Moore's best World Cup performance arguably came four years later in Mexico.

Despite a build-up that had seen him accused of theft by a Colombian jewellery store, his display in the group stage against Brazil was exemplary, summed up by a perfectly timed tackle to stop Jairzinho in full flow.

That tackle and Gordon Banks' memorable save from Pele could not prevent a 1-0 loss and England suffered elimination to West Germany in the next round.

Eusebio (Portugal)
One of the greatest players never to have lifted the World Cup, Portugal's 'Black Pearl' deserves his place among the legends of the game.

While England lifted the trophy in 1966, the Portuguese was the undoubted individual star of the tournament - scoring nine times to win the Golden Boot.

The then-Benfica striker arrived in England as the reigning European Football of the Year and proved his credentials, including scoring four goals in the quarter-final against a North Korea side that had opened up a 3-0 lead in just 25 minutes.

He scored again in the semi-final against England, but it was not enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat to the eventual winners.

The Portugal icon narrowly edges Just Fontaine in our list, with the Frenchman having scored 13 goals for France en route to third place at the 1958 edition.

Eusebio passed away aged 71 in January 2014, leaving a legacy that will never be forgotten.

Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)
Had the Netherlands managed to hold on to, or even build on, the 1-0 lead they gained in the second minute of the 1974 World Cup final, Johan Cruyff’s contribution on the world stage may have seen him equal or even surpass Diego Maradona's in 1986.

Cruyff was the driving force behind the Dutch era of 'Total Football', and was coach Rinus Michels' creative leader on the pitch.

The playmaker tortured defences throughout the finals - even earning himself a place in the coaching manuals for future generations with his 'Cruyff turn' in the group-stage 0-0 draw with Sweden.

He scored twice in a 4-0 second-round thrashing of Argentina and then netted against Brazil.

When he instigated an attack straight from kick-off that led to Johan Neeskens giving the Dutch the lead against West Germany the final, it seemed he was destined to lift the trophy, but Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller denied him.

Cruyff surprisingly retired from international football just a year before the 1978 World Cup and later revealed that a kidnap attempt during which he and his family were tied up and threatened with a rifle in Barcelona had played a part in his decision.

Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)

If Cruyff and his silky skills encapsulated the era of Dutch 'Total Football', then two decades earlier Ferenc Puskas was equally synonymous with a footballing ideology as the leader of Hungary's 'Magical Magyars'.

The Olympic champions heading into the 1954 tournament, Hungary were widely recognised as the best team on the planet thanks to an incredible unbeaten run of 31 matches - with Puskas their star.

Ably supported by Sandor Kocsis, 'The Galloping Major' - who earned the nickname in recognition of his army rank - led Hungary all the way to the final, where, despite struggling with an injury, he opened the scoring himself before Zoltan Czibor added a second.

But West Germany roared back with three goals to claim one of the World Cup's greatest shocks in what was dubbed the 'Miracle of Bern'.

It was a missed opportunity for Hungary, who subsequently saw their finest-ever side broken up due to revolution in the country two years later. 

Puskas and Kocsis moved to Spain and played for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, and although Puskas returned to the World Cup stage eight years later, by that time Hungary's influence, and his own, had waned.