NEW YORK – 1. Zidane headbutts Materazzi (Germany 2006)
Who doesn’t remember Zinedine Zidane, under intense verbal provocation, erupting in fury and laying the nut on Italy’s Marco Mazeratti in extra-time of the 2006 final? One of the most unexpected and controversial moments in football history and the French footballer’s final act of an illustrious career, which was a shame for such a gifted and authoritative player. Shame also that he connected with the Italian’s chest mainly. Technically a decent butt, mind.
2) Maradona’s ‘Hand Of God’ (Mexico 1986)
Having leapt to “head” Argentina into the lead in the quarter-final of in Mexico 86, slow-mo revealed Dirty Diego handled the ball past England keeper Peter Shilton. It was blatant cheating which dirty Maradona charmlessly claimed was the work of “the hand of God”. He subsequently scored one of the greatest World Cup finals goals ever, slaloming past half the England team in a wonderful demonstration of his skills. But he will always be just a short cheaty bloke in our eyes.
3) Home victory for England (England 1966)
We’ve lived off this for too long, but it was magic. Geoff Hurst bagged a hat-trick – two in extra time – as England beat the old West Germany at Wembley to lift their first and only World Cup title. Hurst, Martin Peters, Bobby Moore, the Charlton brothers, Nobby Styles’ dancing, that Russian linesman… Sadly, no English team has even reached the final since. Kenneth Wolstenholme said: “They think it’s all over, it is now.” And surely a 48-year wait is long enough…
4) Diana Ross penalty miss (U.S.A 1994)
This was the year the United Staes played host and footie became soccer. And from the off we knew this was to be a tournament of limitations played in a land where football means the American variety. The opening ceremony saw one of the most talented soul divas in the world step up to kick a round football into an open goal, a task that proved beyond her as she rolled it wide. It began a theme which culminated in Roberto Baggio blasting his spot kick high and wide to gift the tournament to Brazil. Go soccerball.
5) Luis Suarez Handball (South Africa 2010)
It can be a cruel game as Uruguay proved by securing a place in semi-finals after denying plucky Ghana, thanks to Suarez’s handy contribution on the goal line preventing a certain goal for the African side. Suarez was cast as villain and dishonourable cheat, something that has followed him around as a Liverpool player. Suarez later admitted that his handball was out of instinct to help his team and he would certainly cheat again. Of which no-body is in any doubt.
6) The greatest team ever to grace a World Cup (Mexico 1970)
Mexico 70 will be remembered for Brazil, the greatest team to take the pitch at a World Cup finals tournament ever. Brazil won their third title with the likes of Pelé, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Tostão. In the group stage they beat England 1-0 in a game notable for Jeff Astle’s miss, Jairzinho’s goal, Bobby Moore’s tackle on Pele and, of course, Gordon Banks’ “greatest save ever” from Pelé, the planet’s greatest player. They romped through the rest of the tournament and smashed a decent Italy in the final 4-1. England went out 3-2 in the quarters to West Germany, ending our brief reign as the best in the world.
7) Gascoigne’s tears (Italy 1990)
Italia 90 brings back memories of Pav singing Nessun Dorma and England’s excellent football under Bobby Robson as they narrowly lost in the semis to Germany (natch) on pennos. But before that Paul Gascoigne got booked in the semi which meant the greatest player of his generation would miss the final … and the tears flowed. Everyone remembers the pictures of Gary Lineker pointing to the bench indicating that Gazza was blubbing. Then we lost on penalties and we all joined in.
8) Rivaldo’s humiliation (Japan/South Korea 2002)
Supposedly the ambassador of the game, Brazil’s Rivaldo humiliated himself in front of a global audience when the ball kicked by his Turkish opponent struck him on the thigh. He promptly fell to the ground clutching his face seemingly in agonising pain. Slow-mo images showed in great detail that he was actually a dreadful actor – and an out and out cheat.
9) Zaire’s one and only World Cup appearance (West Germany 1974)
Dear Zaire holds to date the weirdest behaviour in World Cup history, but it was very funny. Ilunga Mwepu achieved fame by clearing a Brazil free-kick before they had actually taken it, earning himself a yellow card and vilification for life. You plonker Rodney.
10) The Cruyff Turn (West Germany 1974)
One of the most magnificent football moments ever saw Dutchman Johan Cruyff plant his left foot, feint to cross with his right then curl the ball under him with his right foot leaving his opponent flat-footed. This memorable tactic helped a very skilful Holland sidetake the lead in the final, where they lost 2-1 against the muscular hosts in a final.