We conclude our look at the odd moments of the World Cup with our top 10. Moments of brilliance, moments of shame and images that have defined the World Cup.
10. Harold The Terrible (1982)
It’s a pity one of the greatest games in World Cup history is principlly remembered for an an assault so bad you’d be landed with a GBH charge anywhere but on a sports field. With the 1982 semi-final between West Germany and France locked at 1-1 France’s Patrick Battiston was put clean through but was cleaned out by Germany ‘keeper Harold Schumacher. Schumacher made no attempt to play the ball he just launched himself at Battiston leaving the striker with 2 missing teeth, 3 cracked ribs and a damaged vertebrae.
Incredibly the one person in the stadium who missed the incident was the referee and Schumacher wasn’t even booked. France took a 3-1 lead in extra time but West Germany hauled them back to 3-3 and the World Cup’s first ever penalty shoot out ensued with a familiar outcome with Schumacher saving a French penalty and sending West Germany to the final. It’s fair to say Schumacher’s assault on top of the ‘Disgarce of Gijon’ (number 34 on this list) meant West Germany were the least popular side in World Cup history- they were promptly trounced in the final.
9. Banks Save (1970)
From a moment of goalkeeping infamy to the most celebrated save in football history, England’s heavyweight clash with Brazil in 1970 should have been the final, but it was a group game played in searing heat and when Jairzinho set up Pele who delivered a perfect downward header it should have been a goal, and then this…incredible.
8. A Bad Night in Belo Horizonte (2014)
From Brazil’s greatest side to their darkest night. Brazil weren’t exactly convincing en route to the 2014 semi final with their prosaic defensive side featuring the attacking talents of Hulk (who at least looked plump enough to burst of his shirt) and the deceptively slow Fred, meaning Neymar was carrying sole responsibility for the side’s creativity. But Neymar was injured in the quarter-final and captain Thiago Silva was also suspended for the semi.
But Brazil still had home advantage in Belo Horizonte and were seen as slight favourites against Germany. But having got the crowd going by holding up Neymar’s shirt during the national anthem and hoping to ride into the final on a tidal wave of emotion, the hosts started poorly and Thomas Muller had them a goal down after just 9 minutes. The Brazilians pushed hard for an equalizer but Germany broke quickly and Miroslav Klose made it 2-0 on 23 minutes. Brazil then completely lost the plot and Germany played the ball around the manikin’s in yellow shirts to score 3 more and lead 5-0 after just 29 minutes!
The screams rang out into the night, disbelief enveloped the host nation and the Germans scored 2 more in the second half before Oscar grabbed an injury time consolation. It finished 7-1 and the myth of Brazilian invincibility was shattered in 90 minutes, it’ll take something very special for Brazil to ever recapture it.
7. The Turn (1974)
Johann Cruyff is much missed and achieved amazing things in football. But for all those European Cups with Ajax, all the magic he conjured up in Barcelona and the brilliance of his team’s total football at the 1974 World Cup, Cruyff will be remembered for this one moment of magic.
6. Downfall of the Divine Ponytail (1994)
It must come as some consolation to Diana Ross that hers is not the most famous penalty miss of USA ’94- that dubious honour belonged to the world’s best player. Roberto Baggio was the Ballon d’Or holder and his story dominated the 1994 World Cup. First Italy were in danger of a round 1 exit and Baggio subbed. But after a slow start Baggio dragged his team all the way to the final with his brilliance and 5 goals in the knock out stages.
But Baggio was injured in the semi final win over Bulgaria. The final against Brazil featured only a half fit Baggio and turned into a drab, tepid game. Penalties were inevitable and after Franco Baresi had missed it fell to Baggio to save his nation. But he skied his penalty and Brazil were Champions. It was cruel on Baggio who despite being voted Italian player of the Century never lifted a major honour with his country.
5. Gazza’s Tears (1990)
England were the great story of Italia ’90 and in Paul Gascoigne they’d found their headline act. Gazza with his great dribbling ability and incisive passing was the best creative player in the tournament and landed England in their first semi final for 24 years. As this classic semi-final against West Germany reached extra time tensions grew and Gazza who’d been booked in an earlier game lunged in on Thomas Berthold, who predictably pirouetted on the ground like a gymnast and Gazza was booked meaning he’d miss the final if England made it.
The emotion was too much for the 23-year-old and he began to cry prompting Gary Lineker to tell Bobby Robson “Have a word with him.” Gazza finished the game but England lost on penalties and Gazza broke down. The image was powerful and soon adorned posters, t-shirts and became the symbol of Italia ’90.
Sadly Gazza’s time as the poster boy of English football was short-lived and 1990 would prove to be his only World Cup but his role in reinvigorating English football shouldn’t be forgotten.
4. Ticker-tastic (1978)
They say an image is worth more than a thousand words- this was never truer in football than at the 1978 World Cup where hosts Argentina’s games began with a ticker-tape shower. The tournament was a huge success and the ticker-tape providing the signature feel every World Cup hosts want but few get- remember how bad the Vuvuzela’s were in 2010?!
Later years revealed the ugly nature of the military Junta that ran Argentina in 1978 and proven cases of bribery and match fixing, yet many in football still refer to 1978 as their favourite World Cup and the image still stirs emotion 40 years on.
3. Thanks Mr Bakhramov (1966)
Many of the moments on this list come down to a referee missing a major incident but in the 1966 World Cup Final the whole world stopped and looked at one man- Ukranian linesman Tofik Bakhramov.
The final between England and West Germany had gone into extra time and 11 minutes in Geoff Hurst’s shot hit the crossbar, bounced on the line and out- Bakhramov was the only official with a clear view of the incident and had to decide was it a goal.
We all know what he decided and England went on to become World Champions. Modern replays have shown the ball never quite crossed the line and some in Germany speculated the Soviet official was bias because they’d lost to West Germany in the semi-final, hmm urban myth has it when asked about the decision in private he replied ‘Stalingrad.’ But publicly he always stated he thought the ball bounced back from the net rather than the crossbar.
It’s always worth noting here Hurst’s strike partner Roger Hunt would have had a tap-in had he not turned around to celebrate the goal and it’s hard to deny England were much the better side and deserved their win oh and they did score a fourth.
2. Hand of God (1986)
Every England vs Argentina World Cup game is on this list, all have had a flash point but none to match this. The build up to the 1986 quarter-final clash was dominated by political tension coming as it did just 4 years on from the 2 countries being in open conflict, as FIFA worried about the rising tensions between fans the FA sent Bobby Charlton to the Argentina training camp to do some shooting practice in an attempt to remind everyone this was actually a game.
Come the game Maradona dominated the first half and early in the send half it happened- Maradona got on the end of a move he instigated and got in for a high ball with Peter Shilton, realising he was going to come off worse in a height battle Maradona hand-balled home.
Everyone in the stadium saw it except the referee, Maradona himself admittedly years later he knew straight away and headed for the corner flag in hope rather than expectation it wouldn’t be chalked off. Of course his second goal was brilliant and Argentina were the better side but the fury it caused knew no bounds starting with Bobby Robson’s post match press conference and ran all the way until Italia ’90 and beyond. In recent years Maradona has formed an unlikely friendship with the other goal scorer that day- Gary Lineker. When Lineker hosted the 2018 World Cup draw ceremony in The Kremlin and Maradona was about to draw out a ball Gary got in “Diego if you’d like to draw…you’ve always been good with your hands.”
1. Zidane says au revoir (2006)
What makes a truly unforgettable moment in football that isn’t a great goal? Take a great player (say Zinedine Zidane) a big game (say the World Cup Final) and see him do something shocking (like headbutt someone).
Zidane was the best player of the late 90s and early noughties taking France to both their ’98 World Cup and Euro 2000 triumphs. He announced before the 2006 World Cup he would retire from all professional football after the tournament and after securing France’s place in the final he was awarded the Player of the Tournament Award.
Surely Zi-Zou would go out with the trophy and produce something unforgettable in the final? Well that proved half right! With the final against Italy deep into extra time and deadlocked at 1-1 (Zidane having given the French the early lead) Italian defender Marco Materazzi said something that lead to this extraordinary reaction.
Zidane was off and Italy went on to win on penalties. What exactly Materazzi said remains debatable, some speculated cunning Italian coach Marcelo Lippi (Zidane’s old boss at Juventus) told Materazzi to repeat a nasty rumour that was floating around Turin during Zidane’s time with Juve, some say he just said something about his family. Whatever a largely uneventful World Cup ended on a moment of controversy and a career of great artistry ended in a moment of bizarre thuggery.
So there you have it 50 moments of controversy, cock-ups, brilliance, madness, musical mayhem and pure emotion- what does Russia 2018 have in store for us all?!