50 Greatest World Cup Cult Moments (Part 2)

Part 2 of our look back at the weird, wonderful, brilliant & awful moments that have defined the World Cup, from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous.

50 Greatest World Cup Cult moments (Part 1)

40. Football for breakfast (2002)

John Motson is rightly regarded as a National Treasure for his Match of The Day commentaries but send him to an unfamiliar part of the world for a tournament and he quickly turns into an embarrassing old bloke wandering around a tropical resort wearing socks with sandals asking at a bar for a full english breakfast and repeats of Only Fools & Horses.

Nothing summed this up more acutely than his coverage of England’s campaign in Japan. During England’s key group game he seemed amazed that football could actually be played at midday GMT time so started giving a string of lunchtime references.

If that wasn’t strange enough England’s next match was played at 8am GMT so in the build up Motty’s colleague at the Beeb Ray Stubbs told everyone to get ready for “Beckham & Eggs” and “Teddy on Toast” get it! Motson predictably declared at half time “So far, so good for England. Time to get the eggs on,” urgh. Mercifully England’s second round game was held mid morning and Motty couldn’t conjure up any elevensies references or maybe someone at BBC Towers just told him this was all just a bad idea.

39. Gary takes a dump (1990)

Gary Lineker did many fine things on a football pitch- gracing the Classico, winning the FA Cup, digging his nation of out countless holes, (no pun intended) but there was one moment he’ll never quite live down. During England’s Italia ’90 opener against Ireland Gary actually pooped on the pitch, no further details necessary.

Gary lets rip

38. Animals! (1966)

Alf Ramsey was a great manager but it’s fair to say he was of the old school when it came to his attitude towards foreigners and it came to the bare in the quarter-final of the ’66 World Cup. England played Argentina whose captain Antonio Rattin wasn’t noted as football purist, as it turned out he was one of 3 Argentines booked in the first minute. Half an hour later the referee had enough and Rattin was sent back down the Wembley tunnel. Argentina were to say the least agricultural in the remainder of the game and Geoff Hurst’s late header settled it.

At full-time Ramsey refused to let his players swap shirts and gave a post match interview where he described the Agrentine players as “Animals.” On the marginal point he was probably justified but his poor choice of words had ramifications for England when the World Cup returned to South America 4 years later.

Sir Alf wasn’t impressed with the Tug of War

37. Liquid Football! (1994)

OK this happened before the finals but any excuse is good enough to get Steve Coogan’s immaculate comic creation Alan Partridge onto the list. It’s often forgotten Norwich’s answer to David Letterman started life as a naff sports presenter on ‘The Day Today.’ Here we get some excerpts of Alan’s football commentary and his ridiculously complicated ‘soccer metre,’ take it away Alan…



36. The Battle of Nuremberg (2006)

Argh yes the game with more cards than Christmas. Holland vs Portugal was previously a fixture that conjured up images of the dancing Luis Figo and Johan Cruyff doing his turn but this one began with Mark Van Bommel being well Mark Van Bommel (2nd minute booking). Before long Khalid Boulahrouz had injured CR7 and before half time Portugal’s Costinha was off for a second booking.

In the second half things really got rocking with Boulahrouz receiving his marching orders after 63 minutes and in the closing stages Russian referee Valentin Ivanov  completely lost control with Barcelona duo Deco and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst also off. The final score read Red Cards 4, Yellow Cards 16. Oh an Maniche got the games only goal on 23 minutes.

Nuremberg 2006- It’s getting very full on the naughty step


35. Don’t Come Home Too Soon (1998)

When it comes to World Cup anthems Scotland never quite get it right- 1978’s ‘Ally’s Army’ boasted they would win the World Cup, oh dear. 20 years on they went for the other extreme; poking ill-judged fun at their dismal record of being home before the postcards. Perhaps getting Del Amitri- a band whose Greatest Hits collection was titled ‘Hatful Of Rain’ should have raised red flags with the SFA!

The video was a pastiche of opening match opponents Brazil’s Nike advert of Ronaldo and co showing off their skills at the airport, but few Scots saw the irony and this song sent Scotland fans on their way to France with a prozac prescription. Sadly their team failed to heed the warnings and did come home very soon and ever since Scotland’s anthem has been ‘Don’t bother going!’



34. Disgrace of Gijon (1982)

Ever wonder why FIFA feel the need to put the final round of group games on at the same time? Well here’s the answer, the group phase of Spain ’82 saw underdogs Algeria shock European Champs West Germany, the Germans rallied thereafter and it all meant that in the closing game between West Germany & Austria the only result that would see the Algerians miss out on round 2 was a 1 or 2 nil victory for the Germans which would send West Germany and their Austrian neighbours through instead. What followed was 10 minutes of attacking and a goal from West Germany and 80 minutes of complete inactivity as the sides colluded to get the result that suited both.

Algerian fans waved banknotes at the players, the Spanish crowd booed incessantly and even chanted ‘Let them kiss!’ and ‘Out! Out Out!’ Germans fans shared the revulsion of their teams antics but sadly it couldn’t be proved any rule had been broken and the result stood, the tabloids dubbed it ‘Anschluss’ in reference to Germany annexing Austria in 1938.

When Germany next faced Algeria faced in the 2014 World Cup Joachim Loew talked eloquently to distance his team from the antics of there 1982 predecessors, but it did feel a lot like the old Harry Enfield character Jurgen “I most apologise for my country’s conduct in the 1982 World Cup.”

Angry Algerians vent their digust- Dijon 1982

33. Pele’s dummy (1970)

Pele seemed to spend most of the 1970 World Cup trying to score the perfect goal, he famously tried his luck from the half way line (a moment admittedly superseded by David Beckham & Xabi Alonso ) and then he went for this- a sublime dummy to fool the ‘keeper- a moment of pure footballing genius, if only he’d found the back of the net! Still a brilliant move from the Greatest Ever.



32. Penalty King (1990)

Penalty shoot-outs dominated the knock out phases of Italia ’90 creating an unlikely list of heroes and villains. Nobody would have thought Maradona could miss a spot kick- but he did so when Ireland needed 1 more spot kick to secure a quarter-final place against Romania the last player you’d expect to see trotting up would be David ’12 goals in 638 games’ O’Leary. Yet the veteran defender smashed home the perfect spot kick to secure his countries only ever quarter-final.

The World Cup’s least likely penalty hero

31. Suarez breaks African hearts (2010)

It’s hard to imagine a player having a longer rap-sheet than Luis Suarez and the first of his 2 World Cup felonies occurred in the 2010 quarter-final against Ghana. With the scores level and extra time expiring Suarez found himself defending his goal line when Asamoah Gyan’s header looked about to win the game- Suarez simply reached up and pawed the ball away. He was red carded and a penalty awarded, but Gyan smashed the spot kick against the crossbar and the game went to penalties with Uruguay prevailing.

It seemed particularly cruel that the popular Ghanaians seen largely as Africa’s team in Africa’s World Cup were denied a semi final place by such a blatant act of cheating. Suarez’s actions split opinions but didn’t stop clubs spending £100million on him over the next 4 years and he was far from done with controversy.

Great goalkeeping from Suarez


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