7 Famous World Cup Moments
World Cup Moments - 7 Of The Best
There's just something about the World Cup. It's the heightened emotions, the chance to turn out in national colours and the billions of eyes upon the game. It brings out the best in players, and occasionally the worst.
The one thing we can guarantee is that there will be talking points in Russia. There will be drama and there will be that simple moment of majesty as one player grabs their chance for immortality.
As we prepare for more, here are some of the most famous moments in World Cup history.
1. Diego Maradona
1986 Quarter Final vs England
We could literally have two incidents from Maradona, in the same game, as the top two moments in World Cup history. He was responsible for the infamous 'Hand of God'. He beat England goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the air, but the replay showed a clear handball.
Minutes later, though, Maradona produced a moment of such brilliance that we have to give it the nod here. He ran past the entire English team and scored what is often referred to as the best World Cup goal of all time.
This was the clash of styles and the mercurial brilliance that the World Cup is all about. Only somebody like Maradona could glide past, evade and avoid that many crunching challenges. He ran from inside his own half on a mesmerising, angled, nonsensical run that only he could have seen.
It was pure genius, and it remains our finest moment in World Cup history.
2. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane was generally considered the most talented footballer in Europe and he was the heartbeat of the French team. He had carried them to the final, scored a ridiculous Panenka-style penalty and then had a moment of madness that he will never forget.
A niggling disagreement with Marco Materazzi ended in extra time, when Zidane planted a headbutt right into his opponent's chest. It was bizarre, it was borderline insane, and it was also an instant red card.
France was in good shape to retain the World Cup, but Italy went on to triumph in the penalty shoot-out. Who knows what would have happened if Zidane could have kept his cool?
3. Gordon Banks
1970 – Group Stages.
Goalkeepers are often the unsung heroes in football. Without their heroics, the game is lost, but the strikers tend to steal the glory. Gordon Banks' save against Pele in the 1970 World Cup was simply so good, though, that it has gone down as the Save of the Century.
Banks was a titan in goal for England but this save from the greatest striker in the world, in a relatively inconsequential game, will go down as his defining moment. He clawed the ball out at the last moment when it seemed destined for the bottom corner.
Pele scored many more but this time he was denied.
1970 – Final
When the Brazilians demolished Italy, toying with Europe's best, the world witnessed the birth of 'The Beautiful Game'. It was a period of dominance like we simply haven't seen before and an era of the game that will never be forgotten.
They scored one of the finest team goals in the history of the tournament and served a warning to the rest of the world. This was a golden time for football and a chance for the rest of us to see what pure flair and a love of the game actually looks like.
5. Johan Cruyff
1974 – Group Stages.
Johan Cruyff is one of the true legends of the game but he only played in one World Cup and retired from international football before the next. That was a shame but he still managed to make an impression. This one World Cup was like a masterclass of tricks and techniques.
This was the time of Total Football, the Dutch philosophy and style of play that put fear into the hearts of the opposition. Except the West Germans, who tamed the beast in the final and gave the Dutch yet another defeat. Holland retains the record for the most final appearances without winning the title.
In the 1974 finals, though, the world got to witness the sublime skills of Johan Cruyff, including one moment of genius that went down in history. When he was boxed in to the corner, the Dutchman swept the ball, shimmied and created the 'Cruyff Turn' that is still used to this day.
6. Michael Owen
1998 Quarter-Finals vs Argentina
We could go for David Beckham's infamous red card for kicking out at an opponent who then made a meal of it in the same match, but we prefer to celebrate Michael Owen's wonder goal.
Owen was 18 years old and there were serious doubts whether he should be in the squad. They were silenced when Beckham picked out Owen just inside the opposition's half. He showed incredible speed, power and composure in front of the goal to become one of the breakout stars of world football.
2002 Group Stages vs France
Part of the World Cup's magic is that any team has a chance on any given day, but nobody really fancied Senegal to humiliate the reigning World Champions.
For both countries, it was a historical moment. France was a giant of world football and Senegal was making its World Cup debut. But France simply did not show up to this tournament and Senegal recorded one of the greatest upsets of all time with this spectacular 1-0 victory.
The world loves an underdog and neutrals cheered for Senegal wherever they went for the rest of the World Cup in Korea and Japan.
It was a classic reminder that nobody is unbeatable and that anybody can succeed.