The World Cup is one the most exciting events in the world, some of the best players are on showcase bringing us a variety of magical, shocking and sometimes dull (I’m looking at you South Africa 2010) moments that keep us talking for years! Here are our Top 10 World Cup Moments!
I should start off by saying that these lists are never randomized, I recently ran a poll on Reddit to see what the community thought as the best 10 and here are the results!
10) 2010 Luis Suarez Uruguay vs Ghana
The first time an African nation had hosted the World Cup and the first time an African nation would have made the semi-final. 119 minutes into a possible 120 saw both teams scrambling in the Uruguayan box pressing to get the ball into the net. Dominic Adiyiah heads the ball goalwards past defenders, past the goalkeepers and yet the ball is punched away. Who else would be at the centre of probably the most controversial moment of the most boring World Cup tournament in history but Mr. Controversy, Luis Suarez.
A difficult situation to be sure, it’s the World Cup, there’s one minute remaining and if you concede you’re eliminated and you go home. He was sent off for a hand ball but helped his team get through, a hero to Uruguayans and a villain to nearly everyone else.
Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty and Uruguay went on to win the game 4-2 on penalties. The same people who vilify Suarez for this deem it ‘part of the game’ when players like Ashley Young and Dele Alli throw themselves to the floor. But what do you think? Should it be about win at all costs or sportsmanship?
9) 1974 Haiti go 1-0 up against Italy
A small country who had never before qualified for a World Cup versus the finalists from last time? Should be a walkover right? Not after Emmanuel Sanon pasted his opposing defender for speed and pulled the past the outstretched leg of the goalkeeper to slide the ball, left footed into an empty net. Cue pandemonium. Italy would go on to win the game 3-1 but nonetheless, a crazy moment when that one went in!
8) 2014 Spain out in the group stage
Spain had dominated the last three tournaments and this appeared to be the last. The generation of some finest ever footballers in our lifetime: Iniesta, Xavi, Alonso, supported other quality players like David Villa, Pique and Ramos signaled that Spain would go far, but giving the ageing nature of the squad, this was likely to be the last tournament Spain dominated for a while.
After the first game however it became clear they would dominate nothing and needed two wins to get out of their group. The Golden Generation were unable to match the heights of previous tournaments and went out in the Group Stage in 2014 and after a 5-1 defeat to the Dutch and a 2-0 loss to Chile, beating Australia 3-0 meant nothing. An embarrassment to the country but after 3 successive wins on the spin, anymore would be greedy right?
7) 2006 Zidane Headbutt
Any player who counts Ronaldo (El Fenomeno), Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes and David Beckham amongst his biggest fans is clearly a talented individual. If the majority of the footballing community makes excuses for you having head butted a rival in the biggest game of the year you have clearly garnered a lot of love in the game.
Marco Materazzi made disparaging remarks about Zidane’s sister and the playmakers response was to headbutt the defender in the chest. Yes, talking about someone’s sister is out of order but verbal abuse is common place in football, from Sunday league players right up to the World Cup, many of your opponents will try to gain an advantage over you however they can.
He scored one of the cheekiest ever goals with a Panenka penalty in a World Cup final and went on to the do one of the stupidest things possible and his team lost the game without him. A shocking end to the career of one the greatest players ever, it’s a testament to how good he was that when people discuss Zidane, the final act of madness is an afterthought and his ability with the ball, his sheer class to dominate games while looking like he was playing with his mates in the park is what we talk about.
6) 1990 Benjamin Massing Cameroon vs Argentina
Don’t you hate it when a player clearly breaks the rules, gets pulled up and looks at the referee like a child who has been caught doing something wrong by his Mum and denies it anyway? Oh Benjamin.
Benjamin Massing created a scene like something from a sketch show, when Cameroon faced Argentina in the 1990 World Cup, Claudio Caniggia skipped past 2 defenders only to find the enormous frame of the defender charging towards him who proceeded to tackle the winger in such a way that would likely see him in the dock should it have happened outside the football pitch.
Not only did Massing kick his opponent, he did it so hard he lost his boot and proceeded to try and follow up with ANOTHER KICK to a somewhat luckier opponent. Massing had the gall to say he got the ball and clearly disagreed with the referee’s decision to give him a last minute red card.
5) 1990 Holland vs Germany Rijkaard spits at Voller
I don’t really want to put a video to this one. The first time I saw this it made me feel ill. The two players had been at each other’s throats all match and then Rijkaard decided to do something that many consider worse than getting punched in the face. Rijkaard followed up a horrible tackle on the German attacker by spitting at him as he ran past.
But that wasn’t the end of the incident, as Voller was booked…some referees honestly. (Still not the end) the resulting free kick from the first challenge came in and Voller pulled out of a challenge to avoid colliding with the goalkeeper…and got sent off. Rijkaard proceeded to mock him and spit at him FOR A SECOND TIME!
Voller seemed gobsmacked (no pun intended, sorry it was the best word I could think of) and to his credit jogged off the pitch and decided against retaliating #restraint
4) 2002 South Korea beat Italy 2-1
A penalty? A red card? A Golden Goal? A referee convicted of smuggling 6 kilograms of Heroin in his underwear? South Korea vs Italy in 2002 is a game that continues to be shrouded in rumour and controversy I don’t have an answer for what happened. Upsets happen all the time in football and this isn’t the only time the Italians have found themselves on this list.
Referee Byron Moreno was criticized for a shocking performance when he incorrectly awarded a penalty to South Korea, disallowed what would have been a Golden Goal from Damiano Tommasi (when he appears to have been onside), sent off Totti for a dubious dive (despite being 40 yards away) and allowed South Korea to make it through to the next round.
Moreno found himself suspended for 20 matches later that year after more dubious decisions and performances and again in 2003 for more controversial decisions. Not one for the quiet life Moreno was arrested and later convicted for trying to smuggle 6 kilos of heroin into JFK airport.
Later released and returned to his native Ecuador, he’s not exactly a dull bloke is he?
3) 1982 West Germany vs France packs a punch!
Sometimes when you step out onto the pitch you’re aware you may come away with a few blows. Physically in tackles and mentally in a defeat, but you don’t expect to come away from a game with less teeth than when you started!
Poor Patrick Battiston was subject to one of the worst fouls in World Cup history. When attempting to latch on to a beautiful Michel Platini through ball, the attacker won the race for the ball but was wiped out by the opposition goalkeeper. In one of the best games the World Cup has seen to date, German goalkeeper Toni Schumacher brought us a scene more reminiscent of Total Wipeout in which contestants are …Wiped out.
2) 1986 Diego Maradona Argentina vs England
One of the worst goals ever followed by one of the best goals ever, not just at a World Cup, but in the history of football. Who hasn’t dreamed of picking up a pass, beating opponents 1,2,3,4 and sliding the ball past the keeper? We all have, but not many of us have been able to execute this to perfection on the biggest stage in sport!
Arguably one of the most talented players ever to play the game Maradona was never far from controversy as highlighted in this game against England where we saw the best and the worst that this guy had to offer.
1) 1974 Cruyff Turn Holland vs Sweden
The World Cup is supposed to be the best tournament with the best players, it doesn’t always feel like that when we’re watching England crawl to a 0-0 with Algeria but those games are in a minority. One moment which encapsulates the genius of one player and the joy of football is when Johan Cruyff decided to demonstrate the ‘Cruyff Turn’ in the 1974 match against Sweden.
The turn had never been seen before in the game and you can see by Jan Olsson’s reaction he didn’t quite understand what had happened, sort of like those YouTube videos when a magician shows a trick to an Orangutan. The poor creature doesn’t really know what it happened and is playing catch up to try and understand. I really don’t mean this as an insult to Olsson, when something like that happens for the first time and was never before possible, what can you do?! Quality from Cruyff.
BONUS: 2009 Thierry Henry handball vs Republic of Ireland
It has to be controversial if it’s on the list and it happened before the World Cup right? With Republic of Ireland going through 1-0 on aggregate to make the 2010 World Cup, Thierry Henry brought us our final controversial event when he kept the ball in play using his hand not only once but TWICE resulting in an own goal. Henry later said how worried he was to find himself in close proximity to Richard Dunne after the game and knowing what he’d done, Dunne showed more restraint than most and that’s end! What did you think of our list? Did we miss any crazy moments? Let us know in the comments!