50 Greatest World Cup Cult moments (Part 4)

Part 4 of our look back at the strange and magical moments of World Cup’s gone by.

50 Greatest World Cup Cult moments (Part 1)

50 Greatest World Cup Cult Moments (Part 2)

50 Greatest World Cup Cult Moments (Part 3)

20. One Man & His Dog (2002)

Roy Keane was never known as a shy retiring bunny but even by his standards walking out on a World Cup was extreme. In 2002 under the stewardship of former captain Mick McCarthy Ireland had qualified for their first World Cup in 8 years. But no sooner had the squad checked into their base camp Keane was angry. He was annoyed at the state of the training pitch and late arrival of the training equipment, the next day he had a bust up with 2 of the coaches and decided he wanted out.

But McCarthy persuaded Keane to stay and everything was hearts and flowers again… until Keane relayed the story to a journalist and McCarthy decided to confront him in front of the squad receiving this repost;

“Mick, you’re a liar… you’re a fu!*ing wanker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a fu*!ing wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.” And with that endorsement ringing in McCarthy’s ears and the squad to a man backing the manager Keane walked out.

As it turned out Ireland did quite well without their eloquent captain- pushing Spain to a penalty shoot out in the last 16. Meanwhile Roy headed back to Cheshire and took his dog for a walk in front of an army of reporters. But in one of life’s great ironies Keane is now Assistant Manager for his country where I suspect nobody advises the coaching staff to “stick it up your bollocks.”

Roy’s dog looks delighted to see his master return home early

19. Germany make new friends (1994)

What on earth were they thinking over at the DFB back in 1994? Was it the need to prove Bavarian scientists had finally cracked that mysterious humour gene? Or worries that the sight of all-conquering Germans might not play well with their American hosts? Whatever the reason their Tutonic Majesties felt the need to show their lighter side ahead of USA ’94.

So they decided to record a song with an American music icon, sadly Elvis had passed away so it came to pass that Die Mannschaft duetted with gay icons The Village People (you really couldn’t make this up). The boys from the YMCA belted out ‘Far Away in America’ whilst Lothar Matthaus lead his men in some awkward swaying. Perhaps someone should have xplained the difference between people laughing with you and at you, although most did giggle when they were knocked out by Bulgaria.

18. Ghost Goal (2010)

England’s 2010 World Cup campaign was rotten from beginning to end but it did include several moments of abysmal luck along the way. They lost captain Rio Ferdinand to injury in the first training session, Rob Green had a sudden attack of Scott Carson disease  and dropped the ball in his own net and finally this happened when 2-1 down to Germany in the last 16. For Lamps this must be made even more sickening because it means he holds the official record for most shots without scoring at the World Cup.

17. Horror in Colombia (1994)

Colombia in the early ’90s was a dangerous place, guns were everywhere as the Cocaine Wars enveloped the country. But the World Cup is supposed to bring nations together, make people forget their problems and just watch football for a few hours, sadly that wasn’t to be.

The Colombians were tipped as dark horses in the US but their campaign fell apart partly because defender Andres Escobar (no relation to Pablo) scored an own goal in a 2-1 lost to the USA. The Colombians were home early and Escobar blamed but on 2nd July things took a horrifying turn when Escobar was gunned down. Humberto Munoz confessed to the murder- a known triggerman with links to a drug cartel leading to suggestions he may have been ordered to do the deed due to Pablo Escobar’s love of the national team. Whatever the truth the murder shocked the world and remains the darkest episode in World Cup history.

Andres Escobar in 1994

16. Suarez take a bite (2014)

Luis Suarez already had a lengthy rap-sheet when he arrived at the 2014 World Cup. There was his handball against Ghana (see no 31), racially abusing Patrice Evra and not one but two incidents of biting opponents. But the narrative around Suarez in 2014 was one of redemption- winning Footballer of the Year with Liverpool and knocking England out of the World Cup with 2 goals in the second group game. Whether or not scoring goals was really an answer to people who accuse you of being a nasty racist with vampire tendencies was a question few bothered to ask…until Uruguay’s final group game with Italy.

Suarez clashed with and then bit Italian skipper Giorgio Chielini. He then went down holding his teeth and the referee missed the incident- from the resulting corner Uruguay scored and qualified at Italy’s expense. Within 2 days FIFA issued a lengthy ban and Suarez was out of the tournament with Uruguay’s President ludicrously calling the ban ‘Fascist.’ Despite the ban Suarez was soon on his way to Barcelona for £75million and is about to enter to his third World Cup- what will he do this time?

Suarez tries to extract bits of Chielini from his mouth

15. Maradona’s Mad Eyes (1994)

Few expected Diego Maradona to make it to a fourth World Cup- by 1994 he was 33 years old, had served a 15 month ban for cocaine abuse and played only 5 games in the season leading up to USA ’94. And yet miraculously he was selected and arrived in the US trim, fit and it seemed back to his best with a stunning goal against Greece, however a closer look at this goal celebration may just have caught the attention of drug testers.

Definitely nothing sinister going on here

The next thing we knew he’d failed a test for a banned steroid and was sent home in disgrace signalling the end of his ‘colourful’ Argentina career.

14. Pickles saves the day (1966)

Roy Keane’s dog is only the runner-up in the World Cup Canine stakes, because back in 1966 another dog saved an entire nation from acute embarrassment. In advance of the ’66 World Cup England’s organising committee had the Jules Rimet Trophy put on display in Westminster. Unfortunately a thief (who was never caught) made off with the World Cup and held the trophy for ransom- even sending some of the trophy lining to the Police like a kidnap victims earlobe.

The ransom plan was foiled and an intermediary arrested but the trophy was missing for a full 7 days and the thief found himself stuck with the cup. With panic setting in that the affair might turn into a classic British cock-up cometh the hour, come of the dog.

Pickles- a mixed breed collie sniffed out the trophy wrapped in newspaper in a garden hedge in Upper Norwood. So after succeeding where the Metropolitan Police failed Pickles became a national hero and his dog collar is now on display at the National Football Museum, he even had a TV film made in his honour for the silver jubilee of his big find. Incidentally 17 years later the Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen in Rio and has never been seen since.

Football’s best known dog with the Jules Rimet Trophy

13. The Bracelet of Bogota (1970)

It’s fair to say England were not universally popular amongst South Americans when they arrived in Colombia to prepare their World Cup defence (see number 38 on this list). But things took a turn for the surreal when Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton were accused of stealing a bracelet from a gift shop in Bogota. A few days later a witness claimed to have seen Moore steal the bracelet (even though there was no physical evidence of this) and the England Captain was arrested.

Moore was kept under house arrest with Columbian football officials as England set off for Mexico and it seemed a very real possibility he would miss the tournament. Back home conspiracy theories ran wild in the press- there was even a ‘bring them home’ campaign, meanwhile Prime Minister Harold Wilson got involved trying to secure Moore’s release.

4 days later he was released and did play the World Cup and the charges were dropped although weirdly the case was not closed until 1972. Moore got on with his football but the conspiracy theories got a shot in the arm when Gordan Banks went down with food poisoning before the quarter-final. All in all it was a tour that could have gone a lot better.

12. King Kev’s miss (1982)

Kevin Keegan- English footballers poster boy of the 70’s finally looked like getting his chance on the games biggest stage in 1982. But Keegan suffered a recurrence of an old back injury on the eve of the tournament and missed England’s first 4 games before finally been allowed to seek treatment from a specialist in Germany.

Miraculously it worked and Keegan was fit enough to make the bench for England’s must win 2nd group phase clash with Spain. With 25 minutes to go and the game still deadlocked Ron Greenwood summoned England’s messiah from the bench along with fellow injury victim Trevor Brooking. With their talented veterans now on the pitch England started looking dangerous and a brilliant Brooking cross set Keegan up for a routine header and… (1 min 18 seconds on video)

To this day when I see this clip I expect him to score, but he never does and Keegan’s England career was over.

11. David & Diego (1998 & 2002)

The first half of England’s second round clash with Argentina was the best of France ’98. But early in the second the usual flashpoint in this fixture occurred as Diego Simeone made a cynical foul on David Beckham and drew out Becks’ petulant streak and he kicked out in front of the referee earning a red card.

Beckham became public enemy number 1 in England with the tabloids leading the character assassination, it seemed Becks may soon be on a one way ticket away out of Manchester and prematurely retire from England duty.

From this…

Fast forward 4 years, Beckham was a national hero and England had drawn Argentina in the group phase giving David & Diego a chance to get reacquainted. Michael Owen took a tumble over Mauricio Pochettino and Beckham had his chance for revenge from the penalty spot. Sporting (yeah right) Simeone walked up to shake hands before his spot kick but Becks wisely backed away. Beckham scored then was happy to shake on it, England won 1-0 and a score was settled. Until at least Beckham signed for Real Madrid the following summer and the 2 renewed hostilities in the Madrid derby.

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