Join us on our wild ride of the good, the bad and the extremely ugly moments across World Cup history including Russia 2018.
10- Cristiano Ronaldo ‘Tax Evasion Hatrick’
You couldn’t write it any better. Ronaldo, hit with a lofty £16.4 million tax bill and a two year suspended sentence from the Spanish government, single-handedly takes apart the 2010 champs with the first hatrick conceded in Spanish national team history. After a stonewall penalty and a mistake from one David De Gea, it took an 88th-minute free kick from everyone’s favourite bronzen man to complete the redemption, kickstarting the 2018 campaign with a bang. Although he did avoid paying tax, maybe just leave it next time, Spain.
9-Graham Poll 3 Yellow Cards
An illustrious career that saw Poll referee across every major facet in English football will now forever be remembered by some questionable decisions at the World Cup 2006. Poll, refereeing a routine group stage game between the powerhouses of Croatia and Australia, issued 3 yellow cards to Croatian defender Josep Simic, eventually sending the player marching after his 3rd showing. The usually stubborn ref accepted his blunder after the match, bringing a self-imposed retirement to his international representation. Nice one, Graham.
8- Harald Schumacher ‘Assault’ On Patrick Battiston
‘Kung-Fu Soccer’ might be familiar to most as a loveable piece of eccentric Asian cinema, but look no further than World Cup 1982 for life imitating art in the fierce competition between West Germany and France. Patrick Battiston, France’s impact sub for the finals, found himself clean through on goal via a typical Michel Platini pass. Rather than contest the eventual shot, West Germany keeper, Harald Schumacher, decided the best course of action was a full pelt shoulder charge to the attacker, rendering Battiston immobile with three broken ribs, cracked vertebrae and broken teeth. Adding insult to injury, with no substitutes to spare France were forced to carry on with 10 men, eventually being bested on penalties. Asked to comment on Battiston’s state after the game, Schumacher commented: “I will pay for the crowns.”
7-Pickles the Dog finds the Jules Rimmet Trophy
In a story straight out of the CBBC script archives, a plucky young dog by the name of Pickles discovered the then stolen World Cup trophy on the eve of the 1966 World Cup, ensuring that football was definitely coming home. After a security blunder that allowed the perpetrator/s to steal the trophy from its display in Westminister, and a botched ransom and negotiation, it was up to the keen senses of Pickles to find the discarded trophy near his owner’s flat in South London. Becoming some what of a minor celebrity in the aftermath, Pickles was awarded a medal by the National Canine Defence League, became a TV star and even appeared in a film with Eric Sykes called The Spy with a Cold Nose, going on to collect Dog of the Year, Italian Dog of the Year and rounding it all off with an appearance on Blue Peter.
6-Luis Suarez Bite on Chiellini
Not one to shy away from the spotlight, Luis Suarez returned as Uruguay’s defacto best player in the 2014 World Cup. Having denied a Ghana goal with a blatant handball in the previous World Cup, taking his team to the Semi-Finals for the first time since 1970 it was Suarez’s time to shine and leave his mark competition, which he did literally by seeking his teeth into Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. It was a bold move from the forward, unimpressed by the tough man marking deployed by the seemingly tasty Italians, feigning injury to his teeth post tackle and taking no penalty from the match official. Uruguay finished the match winning 1-0, but unfortunately, Suarez didn’t get away scot free, being slammed with a 4-month ban on all footballing activity, the most expensive snack of the forward’s career.
5-Escobar Own Goal for Colombia
The 2018 World Cup has seen its fair share of own goals so far, but none more costly in the history of the cup than Andreas Escobar’s fluke own goal against hosts the USA. Tipped as favourites by Pele himself going into the finals, the team that included such greats as Carlos Valderrama, Freddy Rincón, Alexis García and Faustino Asprilla faltered at the first hurdle due to the rapidly increasing pressure of their motherland, amplified by the unstable environment post the police killing of Pablo Escobar. The shooting, a wrong place wrong time situation for Andreas after he definitely rejected the advice of his family and friends to lay low, brought a nation to mourn. Somewhat ironically, Escobar had remarked that the World Cup could provide an end to the senseless violence Colombia had experienced thanks to Andreas’ drug kingpin namesake.
4-Roy Keane Leaves the Ireland Squad During the World Cup
The backstory isn’t essential in this story, if you are interested to know though, see Keane’s exit interview whilst on his way home below. See for yourself the transcript from Keane’s tirade at Mick McCarthy and make your own judgements.
“You’re a f****** w***** . 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 f****** w***** and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. I’ve got no respect for you. 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 b*******.”
3-Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’
Maradonna, not one to ever be understated, took his place in history as one of the greatest to do it by having his way with the England team at the 1986 World Cup. Breaking the deadlock between the two with a seemingly unbelievable header, it was only with a review and the complaints of England keeper Peter Shilton, that it was shown to be a clear handball to gift the Argentines the lead. Unfortunately for England, no VAR to save the day in the 80s, meaning the goal would stand. Following up his blatant bending of the rules with a goal regarded as ‘The Goal of the Century” it was enough to send England out of the finals and Maradonna on a cocaine binge that lasted for best part of a decade.
2-Germany 7-1 Brasil
Has a game ever been so emotionally devastating for one side as this? Brazil, hosting their second finals after their efforts in 1950, had great hope and chance of retaining the trophy with a core of talent lead by poster boy Neymar. Going into the Semi-Finals against Germany missing captain Thiago Silva due to discipline issues and Neymar due to an injury, the hope was to somehow squeeze a result out of a transcendent Germany team, who definitely had other ideas.
Brazil manager Luis Felipe Scolari called it “the worst day of my life”
1- Zinedine Zidane Headbutt
Zidane, one of the words truly exceptional players and player of the tournament at the 2006 World Cups was going out with a bang regardless. Fresh from his final season with the galacticos of Madrid, Zizou had planned to say farewell by single-handedly dragging France to the finals of World Cup. Dispatching teammates across the tournament in Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Robinho on the way to the final game against Italy. Notching a goal in the final by the way of a classy panenka chipped penalty, it was the madness of extra time that brought our iconic memory of Zidane’s final game. Frustrated by a perceived slight from Italy defender Marco Materazzi, Zizou proceeded to plant the nut on the Italian to great success, walking himself off before he even received a decision from the referee, and the rest is history. Never one to compromise or sacrifice his beliefs, it’s the Zidane’s awareness that’s taken him from a great player to a legendary manager, reeling off 3 champions league titles in a row as manager of Real Madrid, before sacrificing himself as the only manager to quit during out spoken president Flroentino Perez’s regime as Real chairman. We could all be a little more Zizou.