As the biggest sporting event in the world, and one that first began in 1930, the World Cup has surely delivered a multitude of iconic moments over the years.
But which ones stand out as the very best?
Fox Sports, the television host of this year’s World Cup in the United States, decided to take on the challenge of figuring that out, and their choices should not be at all surprising.
10 — 2010 World Cup, South Africa.
Spain had never won a World Cup until 2010. The team built around the generational talents of players like Xavi and Andres Iniesta, utilised the Tiki-taka style of play built around short passing and ball possession to dazzle the soccer world and capture international immortality.
9 — 1998 World Cup, France
Led by Zinedine Zidane, one of the game’s true maestros with a ball at his feet, France won its first ever World Cup on home soil, with a team representing a multi-cultural France, such as Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants, and the Ghana-born Marcel Desailly.
8 — Tardelli’s celebration, 1982 World Cup, Spain
After Marco Tardelli scored the second of Italy’s three goals in the final, which Italy went on to win, he ran towards the Italian bench, screaming and pumping his fists in celebration. “After I scored, my whole life passed before me – the same feeling they say you have when you are about to die,” he later said. “The joy of scoring in a World Cup final was immense, something I dreamed about as a kid, and my celebration was a release after realising that dream. I was born with that scream inside me, that was just the moment it came out.”
7 — The Wembley Goal, 1996 World Cup, England
The 1966 World Cup Final match between host nation England and international powerhouse West Germany had gone to extra time. Early in extra time, England striker Geoffrey Hurst hit a shot in the penalty box that hit the top crossbar, bounced off the crossbar and onto the goal line. It was ruled a goal, but whether or not Hurst’s shot ever actually crossed the goal line has been debated ever since.
6 — 2014 World Cup, Brazil
Before 2014, no European team had ever won a World Cup in South America. Germany not only pulled that feat off, but they did it in flying colours, even thrashing the admittedly Neymar-less host nation Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup.
5 — Zidane’s head-butt, 2006 World Cup, Germany
Zidane, as already stated, is an icon of the game, but his last ever competitive match would end in infamy when, in extra time of the 2006 World Cup final, he was sent off for head-butting Italian defender Marco Materazzi. Italy would go on to win the match.
4 — 1958 World Cup, Sweden
Pelé was just 17-years-old when he led Brazil to its first ever World Cup, scoring six goals in the tournament, including two in the final.
3 — 1970 World Cup, Mexico
Brazil (and Pelé), wont its third World Cup in four tournaments with a 4-1 win over Italy in the final, capped off by a goal from Carlos Alberto that was the end product of a dazzling sequence of passing and movement which perfectly captured just how beautiful soccer can be.
2 — “The Hand of God” Goal, 1986 World Cup, Mexico
England and Argentina were big rivals on the pitch, in no small part due to the recent Falklands War, when they met in the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup. In the second half, Maradona ran on to the end of a ball in the penalty box and punched it in with his hand, which went uncalled by the referee. Maradona later said the goal was scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”
1 — “The Goal of the Century,” 1986 World Cup, Mexico
Later in that same match, Maradona scored what turned out to be the winning goal, one that has since been dubbed “The Goal of the Century.” Words don’t do it justice, it must be seen to be believed.
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