100 Most Memorable World Cup Moments (10-1)
The beautiful game returns to its spiritual home with the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. We at Goalden Times are revisiting the 100 most memorable moments from the past editions. Some are inspirational, some are controversial. Some will leave a smile on your face, some will make you wanting for more. You will find everything here. The final installment: Moments 10 – 1.
Match: Germany vs. England
Round: Round of 16
Venue & Date: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa, 27th June, 2010
England scored only two goals in their group stage matches, and qualified to the next round via a narrow 1-0 win over Slovenia. Germany started the tournament with a thumping 4-0 win over Aussies, but lost to Serbia 0-1 in the next match , and had to ride a Mesut Ozil stunner to beat Ghana. These two eternal rivals were not supposed to meet so early in the tournament, but due to England’s inferior goal difference than USA, they came 2nd in the group and faced Germany in the round of 16.
This match will be remembered for fast pace attacking football by the Germans, but it will also be remembered for one of “the” most controversial calls ever made in world cup history, which would overshadow the goal by Geoff Hurst in 1966 final between the same two nations (erstwhile West Germany, covered in one of our earlier segments).
England started the match cautiously and had larger share of possession in the initial minutes. But they conceded the initial goal due to lack of concentration in the 20th minute. A long clearance by Manuel Neuer fell between John Terry and Mathew Upson, and Miroslav Klose got between the two defenders, shoved off the challenge from Upson, and slotted the ball past English custodian David James with his right foot. Lukas Podolski doubled the tally 12 minutes later after receiving the ball from Thomas Muller inside the penalty area, and defeating James through his legs with his trademark left-footed shot. Epson made amends for his defensive errors 5 minutes later, by scoring with a header connecting a cross from Stephen Gerrard. With 1-2 scoreline and less than ten minutes to go for the half time, England was pushing hard for an equaliser. In one such move, Germain Defoe received the ball from Gerrard in the edge of the penalty area with two german defenders closing on him. His first attempt was blocked by the defence, but the ball fell on the foot of an onrushing Frank Lampard whose first time volley beat Neuer and and bounced inside the goal line before popping out. Manuel Neuer, who was beaten handsomely, noticed what happened when he was falling down in the ground from his dive, and in a swift move, stood up and collected the rebounded ball before clearing it up field.
The whole thing happened in a jiffy, and referee Jorge Pietrafesa from Uruguay ignored the outstretched hands of Frank Lampard claiming the goal. Capello started celebrating in the sideline before he realised that the goal was not given.
England should not have been behind in the half time. David Beckham tried to lift the spirit of the players in the tunnel. But the effect was evident on the players. Thomas Muller scored two goals within span of 4 minutes in the second half (66 to 70 minutes) to seal German victory by 4-1 margin. That ghost goal by Lampard haunts the player even today. FIFA president Sepp Blatter apologised on behalf of the match officials for not allowing the goal. The ball was about a foot inside the goal, and it was very unlikely that all the officials missed it. Manuel Neuer admitted that it was a clear goal, and his swift reaction in clearing the ball might have “fooled” the referee for not allowing the goal. Referee stated that the on-field action was so quick that he thought the ball bounced of the post.
It was a matter for analysis for physicists too. The ball dropped inside the goal with a lot of spin. A normal drop would have carried the ball to the roof of the net or kept the ball inside the goal. Since there was so much spin , or high amount of “torque” involved in the ball while it was dropping on the ground, it rebounded out of the goal following a inclined path instead of a straight path.
The use of goal line technology in football got louder in years to follow. A simple use of technology would have made sure England was awarded with the goal, and with 2-2 going into the halftime, anything could have happened in the match.
Finally in 2014, FIFA decided to use the goal line technology. It is ironical that a little known German company “GoalControl” has designed the technology which will have 14 cameras (7 on each goal mouth) to capture three-dimensional precision image of the ball’s position near the goalmouth. If a ball crosses the goal line completely, the technology is designed to send both optical and vibrational signals to the watch of the referee to indicate that a goal has been scored.
Hope all these technological advance will erase the events like Lampard’s “ghost goal”.
Match: Romania vs. Cameroon & Colombia vs. Cameroon
Round: Round of 16
Venue & Date: Stadio San Nicola, Bari, 14th June, 1990 & Naples, Stadio San Paolo, Italy, 23rd June, 1990
It was a fairy tale story for the Indomitable Lions from Cameroon. They defeated mighty Argentina in the first match of the tournament. Many considered it fluke. Many owed it to the over-confident under-prepared Argentina. The Lions were having none of it. To prove that their victory against Argentina was not a flash in the pan, they took on a determined Romania in the next match with same physicality they displayed against Argentina.
Thomas N’kono was a pillar beneath the bar for Cameroon. He saved off some incredible shots, free-kicks that came towards Cameroon goal. Cameroon attacked sporadically, but Romania was the team who looked like scoring a goal more than Cameroon.
The match was heading for a 0-0 draw, when a long ball was cleared from Cameroon defence. Andone was the only Romanian defender present, and while he was trying to judge the flight of the ball, 38-year old Roger Milla was following him. As soon as the ball bounced for the first time, both Milla and Andone went up for the ball. With the sheer power of Milla’s shoulder push Andone fell to the ground, and Roger Milla put the ball in the net with his left foot volley. He ran immediately towards the right corner flag, and started celebrating with swift hip movements, and hand up in the air. It was not only a mere dance celebration, it was a statement. Africa has arrived in the world stage; Cameroon has arrived in the world stage. Celebration is not the right of only people of wealth; every individual has the right to celebrate.
Ten minutes later, 38 years young Milla scored again, this time from a thunderous right-footed volley from the right side of the penalty box to give Cameroon a 2-0 lead. He again celebrated with his dance moves near the corner flag. Romania pulled one back in 88th minute, but Cameroon held on to the lead to win 2-1, and qualified to the next round as group winners.
Cameroon faced Colombia in the round of 16 match. Colombia had emerged from a group which had Germany, Yugoslavia and UAE. They had Freddy Rincon, Carlos Valderrama, and charismatic goalkeeper Rene Higuita in their ranks. Many pundits predicted the end of fairy-tale journey by Cameroon against Colombia. The match ended 0-0 in the regulation time and went into extra time.
In the 106th minute, Roger Milla received a ball from Francois Omam-Biyik outside the penalty area, dodged past three Colombian defenders to enter the penalty area and defeated an advancing Higuita with a left-footed volley. The trademark Milla-dance returned again, with his team mates joining him near the corner flag. The fans of the indomitable lions did not have to wait long for another dance though. Bertin Ebwelle cleared a ball from their defence three minutes later. The whole Colombian side went after an equaliser then on, and Rene Higuita advanced up from goal line to receive the ball midway through the Colombian half. He passed the ball to Luis Carlos Perea who passed it back to him. Higuita received the ball with his right foot, but as he was trying to control the ball, an onrushing Milla came charging towards him, snatched the ball, ran towards the goal and slotted the ball in, with hapless Higuita trying desperately to prevent him. Roger Milla ran towards the left corner flag and started his dancing moves, with both hands outstretched after the dance. Cameroon managed to win the match 2-1, and became first ever team from the African continent to reach the World Cup quarter-finals, where they lost to England 2-3.
Roger Milla, at the age of 38, became a symbol of joy and exuberance around the world. His dance and the free flowing goals before the dance attracted many fans. Milla redefined the theory of age in professional football. There were many celebrations before 1990, and many happened after. But the dancing Roger Milla remained in the heart of football fans around the world, permanently.
Match: Brazil vs. Italy
Venue & Date: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, USA, 17th June, 1994
It was the final between two nations who had won the trophy thrice before. It was the final between two nations who reached the summit clash in contrasting styles. For Italy, it was about Roberto Baggio. He scored five goals in the tournament en route to final, twice saving his country from being eliminated in the hands of Nigeria (round of 16) and Spain (quarter-final). Brazil, on the contrary, brought back the samba style in their football. Their margins were narrow though, as they beat USA 1-0, and then defeated Netherlands 3-2 in the match of the tournament. A hard fought 1-0 win over Sweden earned them a place in the final.
This World Cup moment, is actually not about Brazil, though Brazil remains everywhere in the story. It is about a hero, rather a tragic one. Roberto Baggio’s evolution as a star in world football was four years ago, when he scored that spectacular goal against Czechoslovakia in the group stage in Italia 90. Italy lost in the semis to Argentina four years ago, but cometh ’94, Roberto Baggio was the main man in the Azzuri squad. After the shock defeat against Ireland in the opener, he carried the team through a series of difficult matches to the final.
The final itself was not one of the great matches to remember. Brazil attacked, Italy defended. Gianluca Pagliuca in the Italian goal kissed the goalpost to thank the woodwork for saving his goal, more than once. Baresi and Maldini were rock solid in the defence. Italy made sure Brazil doesn’t have enough space before Italian penalty area to construct an attack by passing the ball. So Brazil were forced to play long aerial balls, and Baresi, Maldini, Mussi cleared those balls frequently to deny Brazil any clear sniff at their goal. Romario and Bebeto went upfront frequently, but could not penetrate Italian back four. Roberto Baggio was not very effective during the match as he did not get enough supply from the midfield.
The match ended 0-0 after extra time, and for the first time in the history of World Cup football, the final would be decided via penalty kicks. Baresi was injured during the match, but his name featured in the list of penalty takers. Baresi’s shot went over the bar, but Gianluca Pagliuca saved Marcio Santos’ penalty to keep it still 0-0. The next two sets of penalties from both side went in normally, before Danielle Massaro’s shot was saved by Tafarel. Dunga made it 3-2 in favour of Brazil to make the last penalty by Baggio a must-score one.
Roberto Baggio, was not in great shape during the final. But he was the team’s main penalty taker, so the last shot was allotted to him. According to Baggio, he knew that Tafarel would dive either side, so he decided to shoot it down the middle, a little above the ground level, so that even if Tafarel outstretched his leg, he would not get the ball.
Baggio did shoot the ball down the middle, but the ball went up three metres and flew over the crossbar. Baggio said he was pretty much lucid before the penalty, and did not understand how he missed the penalty. He hardly missed penalties in his career and did not shoot wide over the bar.
Baggio, though, mentioned in his autobiography, that people generally forget the fact that even if he scored from the penalty, Brazil would have still won the World Cup by scoring from their last penalty. He stood at the spot after the penalty, with a grim look full of disbelief, and the image was captured and marketed well by media. Baggio felt, Italy as a nation needed a lamb to slaughter, and he was the lamb they chose, forgetting the fact that Baresi missed a similar penalty and Danielle Massaro also missed the previous shot. The media did not remember that it was Roberto Baggio who carried the nation to the final.
Baggio even felt Ariggo Sacchi’s attitude towards him changed after the final. Everyone consoled Franco Baresi, but no one showed sympathy towards Roberto Baggio. A distraught Roberto Baggio, with hands on his hips, and a blank look in his eyes, became a permanent image across football fans around the world. Only the person himself wished how he could have erased those moments.
Match: Preliminary rounds of 1994 World Cup, Group D involving Argentina
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Dallas, Boston, Chicago, USA, 21st – 30th June, 1994
The journey of Diego Maradona has been one of a kind in footballing history. There is not a single person whose journey has been more colourful, more illustrious. Any illustrious journey is bound have its crests and troughs. This World Cup moment will discuss one of those “troughs”, may be the “nadir” in Diego Maradona’s career – the infamous 1994 drug test.
He had been suspended for 15 months in 1991, and he came to the 1994 World Cup without having any official club. Football pundits predicted that he would not be a major force in this World Cup. The last two times he had donned the Albiceleste colours, Argentina were in final both times, and had won the trophy in 1986.
Argentina started emphatically, with a 4-0 win over newcomer Greece. Gabriel “Batigol” Batistuta scored a hattrick, but the match was remembered for the goal scored by Maradona. With a thunderous curvy left footed shot from outside the box, Maradona had scored Argentina’s third goal.
Maradona was also at the centre of the action in their next match against Nigeria, where Argentina came back from 0-1 down to win the match 2-1, with Claudio Caniggia scoring the winning goal from Diego’s pass. A confident Argentina was all set to take on Bulgaria in the last league match, when the news arrived to the world. Diego Maradona was suspended and would be prevented to take any further part in the ongoing World Cup.
Diego Maradona was tested twice after the match against Nigeria. After the first sample came positive, the second sample was tested at the laboratory of University of California, Los Angeles. The result was positive again the second time. The result was declared just six hours before the match against Bulgaria in a press conference. FIFA mentioned that they have found five banned substances in Diego Maradona’s test sample. They were ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, pseudo-ephedrine, non-pseudo-ephedrine and methyl ephedrine.
Michael d’Hooghe, doctor and member of FIFA’s executive committee mentioned that there was no single substance or drug that would contain all five banned substance together. He mentioned that Diego Maradona must have been on a cocktail of drugs. An 18 month sanction was later imposed on Maradona by the Argentine Football Federation, so that AFA does not face further sanctions from FIFA.
The story from Diego’s side was a bit different. Diego mentioned to the Argentine team doctor that he used to take ephedrine, which was available as a constituent in over the counter allergy medicine to cure asthmatics and cold-like symptoms from which Diego was suffering before the match against Nigeria. It generally clears the respiratory system, but if taken in excess amount, in can act as stimulant.
Diego believed it was a huge conspiracy. USA did not want Diego Maradona to succeed on their soil, as Diego had been close friends with the Cuban leader Fidel Castro – and there was no love lost between him and the US. A lot of people believe that FIFA had altered the banned substance list to make sure that Diego was found guilty.
This debate will remain rife will continue to confuse us about what exactly happened in the Argentine dressing room in the summer of 1994. A dejected Argentina lost in the second round to Romania 2-3. The whole world, numerous fans, and Argentina, mourned the departure of the most famous and most spectacular footballer of a generation from the world stage. A series of players from Latin American countries showed their support to Diego Maradona. Romario, the Brazilian striker, and a close friend of Diego, urged his team mates to win the World Cup for “Maradona”. Brazil did beat USA in the round of 16 match, and the Brazilians dedicated the win to Maradona.
Match: Italy vs. France
Venue & Date: Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany, 9th July, 2006
Zinedine Zidane ruled the football world in the post Maradona – Platini – Matthaus and pre Messi – Christiano Ronaldo era. He did have worthy company and competition from Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Figo, Rivaldo, Kaka, and Bergkamp during those days. But still, many considered him the best player on the planet for almost a decade.
Just before the 2006 World Cup, Zidane mentioned that he would retire from football at the end of the tournament. So the World Cup was going to be the last hurrah for the genius, his swansong – he had already won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 along with several accolades in club football.
France started the campaign disastrously with two draws (0-0 vs. Switzerland, 1-1 vs. South Korea). They won 2-0 against Togo in the last group match, and then never looked back. Their 3-1 victory against Spain in the round of 16 raised many eye-brows, but Zidane’s display was superb in that match. His control and precision passing tore the Spanish defence apart. France edged past favourite Brazil in a replay of the 1986 quarter-final, this time Thierry Henry scoring from a Zidane free kick. Zidane scored the only goal against Portugal from the penalty spot in the semis. France faced Italy in the final, and Zidane was again on the score sheet to give France the lead, again from the penalty spot on the 7th minute.
The lead did not last long though as Marco Materazzi’s thunderous header on the 19th minute brought Italy back on level terms. The details of the match are not the talking point of this world moment though. Let’s fast forward to the 107th minute of the match, as it went to extra time. Alessandro Del Piero was charging down the field with the ball and Claude Makelele running on his heels. Both the players fell down, and referee Horacio Elizondo awarded a free kick to France. Makelele quickly took the free kick and passed the ball to Florent Malouda near the centre line. Suddenly everyone’s attention was diverted to the opposite end of the field near Italian penalty area where Materazzi was lying on the ground asking for help, and Zinedine Zidane was fuming. The referee stopped play and rushed towards the spot. Fabio Cannavaro and David Trezeguet were having an argument. The Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon walked up to the spot and tried to convey his view to Sylvian Wiltord about the incident.
What was the incident? Materazzi and Zidane both were falling back after France’s previous attack, during which Materazzi tugged Zidane’s shirt several times. When retreating back, Materazzi said something offensive to Zidane. Zidane tried to smile it off at the beginning, but Materazzi kept on saying something. Zidane had had enough and he stopped and head-butted Materazzi to the chest in retaliation. Materazzi fell on the ground.
The medical team rushed in to assist Materazzi. There were a lot of discussions between the players. Cannavaro and Alou Diarra were seen even putting hands together. The situation was never out of control, as there were a lot of players from same clubs, so players knew each other. Gennaro Gattusso and Cannavaro were having an extended argument with the referee. Elizondo kept his nerve and did not take any drastic action till that point. He ran down towards the sideline, had a quick discussion with Rodolfo Otero, the Argentinean linesman on the near side of the pitch, and then came back to show the red card to Zinedine Zidane.
The French players naturally started arguing their case, along with Zidane who tried to explain that he was provoked. But it was a dangerous foul, and red card had to be shown. Zidane slowly walked past the World Cup trophy that was on display beside the sideline. France went on to lose to Italy via a penalty shoot-out at 5-3.
The British tabloids hired lip readers to decode the incident. Those tabloids reported that Materazzi had hurled expletives about Zidane’s mother. Materazzi won the legal battle against those tabloids, and mentioned that he had himself lost his mother at the age of 15, so he wouldn’t say such things. Later during press conferences and several other events, Materazzi and Zidane both narrated out what actually happened. As Materazzi was tugging Zidane’s shirt, Zidane mentioned that if he wants the shirt so much, Zidane can give him the shirt after the match. Materazzi replied that he would like the shirt of Zidane’s sister, and hurled more profanities about Zidane’s sister. Materazzi confessed he did not even know whether Zidane had a sister.
FIFA’s investigation committee handed 5000 Swiss Franc and two match ban penalty to Materazzi, while the amount was 7500 Swiss Franc and three matches for Zidane. Since Zidane already retired, he volunteered for three days of community service instead of the ban. The French president admitted it was a dangerous foul, but mentioned Zidane as a man of heart and emotion. Zidane himself mentioned several times that provocations like the one Materazzi did should be punished on the field as well. The history will remember only the head-butt though, the momentary madness that did cost France another World Cup.
Match: Italy vs. France
Venue & Date: Stade Olympique de Colomes, Paris, France, 12th June, 1938.
During 1938, the world was literally boiling at that time. World War II was looming large on the world. France hosted the World Cup amid these torrid conditions. Italy won the World Cup in 1934, and with Benito Mussolini at the helm, they were desperate again to win the trophy. Italy’s rise to football has been late, and the victory in 1934 was marred by allegations like bribing the referee and corruptions on their own soil. Italy failed to beat England during 1930s, and England did not participate in the World Cup in thirties. France World Cup came at a time, when fascism around the world was at its peak. Mussolini was pretty much anti-French, and any revolution against him was nipped in the bud. When Italy arrived in Marseille to take part in the 1938 World Cup, around 3000 anti-fascist protesters gathered and started showing their dissent towards Italians. Italian manager Vittorio Pozzo had much larger challenge to tackle. His squad was full of players from rival clubs, and he had to manage them well. His approach was a bit nationalistic, with players had to run through the woods as part of the training, resembling the style of Fascist soldiers. And trip to World War I memorial monuments. Italy got the better of Norway in the opening match via a 2-1 win in added extra time. The players had to put a salute, with about 10,000 politicians in the stands from their nation. The crowd was of high Scandinavian inclination. Four days later, Switzerland defeated Germany 4-2 in a replay, and the whole France celebrated the omission of another political heavyweight nation, who, at that time, defied humanism. Italy vs France quarter-final created a lot of uproar in Paris. Whole France, along with a large section of Europe, wanted the Italians to lose, wanted Mussolini to lose. Both the teams generally play in blue shirts, so a lottery took place to decide which country would wear blue. France won the lottery to get the rights of wearing blue shirt while Italy had to wear white. Instead of wearing white, the Italian team was ordered by their fascist leader to wear black. The black shirts worn by Italians during the match displayed a prominent Fascio Littorio symbol on the left crest. The Fascio Littorio symbol was of a bundle of wooden strips tier together with an axe, and symbolised domination and power. This was a clear indication by the Italian players that they did not care about the protesters and were behind their leader Mussolini. The Italian players also performed the “infamous” salute to their leader Mussolini before the kick-off. It was hostile of times. Italy took an early lead in the match via Gino Colaussi, but Oscar Heisserer soon equalized for France. The match remained tied 1-1 till the half time, with a hostile crowed pouring their support for the host nation. But Silvio Piola scored a brace in the second half (51st minute and 72nd minute) to secure an Italian victory, which silenced the crowd. Italy went on to win the World Cup for second consecutive time, and thus Mussolini succeeded to show the world his supremacy, using the World Cup win as a political agenda.
Match: USA vs. Colombia and aftermath
Round: Group stage
Venue & Date: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, USA, 22nd June, 1994 (repercussion of the incident: Medellin, Colombia, 2nd July, 1994)
Colombia was, and still is, a country where a lot of drug trafficking occurs. Cocaine is an integral part of many people’s lives living in that society. Lot of money exchange hands with respect to dealings with drugs. It is indeed a matter of life and death.
Colombia is a nation which produces good footballers as well. Colombia had a pretty strong squad in 1990s, and qualified for all three world cups in that decade. They had Carlos Valderrama in 90s, but coming into 1994 World Cup, they were termed as dark horse. The qualified for the finals without losing a match, and in the last match against Argentina, they blasted five goals past mighty Argentina. They had Freddy Rincon, Faustino Asprilla in their ranks, and Asprilla was billed as to be the player to watch in 1994 World Cup. Their campaign started disastrously as they lost 1-3 to Romania in the opening match, and faced host USA in their next much, which was to be must win for them, as USA drew with Swiss and Swiss defeated Romania in other matches.
Around 35th minute of the match, John Harkes of USA curled in a left footed low cross towards Colombian penalty area, with Andres Escobar quickly running towards the penalty box to block the cross. Escobar was facing the goal, with goal keeper Oscar Cordobe moving towards his left in anticipating the cross. Escobar outstretched his right leg to stop the cross, but unfortunately the ball hit the toe end of his right leg and went inside the goal. USA 1-0 Colombia . Earnie Stuart doubled the lead in 52nd minute. Adolfo Valencia got a consolation for Colombia in the 90th minute, but it was too little too late. Colombia lost their second successive match in the tournament, and was eliminated from the group stage.
Colombia defeated Switzerland in the last match, and returned early in their home country. Andres Escobar mentioned in a newspaper that “Life does not end here”. One must take things into stride, and move on. Rage and violence can only paralyse a society. Escobar said he wanted to thank everyone as playing World Cup had been a rare experience. He wanted to continue his service towards the society, and signed off his note with a desire to meet others very soon.
On, Saturday, 2nd of July, in his home town Medellin, three men came in vehicles, shot Andres Escobar as many as 12 times, and uttered “Thanks for the own goal” and fled off along the highway in dark. Andres Escobar’s life “ended” there.
Andres Escobar had no relations with Pablo Escobar, the mafia-boss and drug dealer in Medellin City, who was killed in December 1993. Andres Escobar was liked very well by all his team members, because of his calmness and composed nature. But the times leading to 1994 world cup was not very calm in that country. Colombia lost only a single match out of 26, leading to the 1994 finals. Many football pundits, including Pele, predicted at least a semi-final spot for Colombia in the World Cup. Colombian coach Francisco Maturana mentioned that the players felt a lot of tension going into the matches, and the expectation and threat from the mafia barred the players to express them freely on the field.
Expectations were high, and lot of money were already involved in anticipation of every Colombian victory during the finals. The own goal by Escobar was a dark spot in those ambitions. As soon as the own goal was scored, Escobar’s nephew sister, who was watching the match in home, remembered that her nine year old son mentioned “they were going to kill Andres”. “They” did end up killing Andres.
Match: Matches played by Uruguay
Round: Group stage, semi-final & Final
Venue & Date: Stadiums in Montevideo, Uruguay, 13th – 30th July, 1930
It was the first World Cup organised by FIFA, and Uruguay was the best team on the planet at that time. Before the World Cup started taking place, Olympic football was the premier tournament, and Uruguay had won two previous gold medals in 1924 and 1928. Uruguay was the host of the inaugural edition, and was firm favourites to win the trophy. Only four teams from Europe participated as it was difficult for teams to travel across the Atlantic Ocean in those days.
Uruguay was grouped with Romania and Peru in Group C. Uruguay defeated Peru 1-0 in the opening match, and first goal ever by Uruguay in World Cup was scored by Hector Castro. This World Cup moment is about Hector Castro. At the age of 13, in 1917, he chopped is own arm by accident. He was slicing wood with an electric saw-like instrument, which was more of a bacon slicer than a saw. He continued to play his football after that, for the Nacional club.
Disability of losing one arm did not deter Hector Castro from living a normal life. He was a social person, a heavy smoker and gambler. He was full of life. His presence in the football field was as dynamic as the person himself. But due to his disability, he would use his physical nature during open play. He did not ask for any sympathy for his disability. He was nicknamed as “El Divino Manco” – One armed God. He was literally worshipped by Nacional fans, due to his physical strength and fighting spirit on the field.
Uruguay reached the final and faced arch rivals Argentina in the first ever World Cup final on 30th July at Estadio Centenario, Montevideo. The final started with a controversy regarding the ball, which was covered as the 100th moment (1st moment of this series). Hector Castro was very much his physical self during the match, and fouled Argentina’s goalkeeper Juan Botasso injuring him in the thigh. Argentina was leading 2-1 at half time, but Uruguay turned the game around in the 2nd half. Pedro Cea scored in 57th minute and Victoriano Iriarte in the 68th to give Uruguay 3-2 lead. Argentina was desperate for an equaliser, with Guillermo Stabille, Pedro Suarez moving upfront frequently to test Uruguan goalkeeper Enrique Ballestrero. Uruguay soaked up the pressure and launched a counter attack. On the 89th minute, from one such attack, a ball was swerved inside the penalty area from the right side of the pitch. Argentine defenders could not anticipate the flight, and the Argentine goalkeeper stood firm in the goal line. Hector Castro was fast advancing towards the penalty area to meet the cross, and released a thunderous left footed volley which crashed into the roof of the net, to give Uruguay a decisive 4-2 lead. Uruguay held on to that lead, and became first ever World champion. Hector Castro was carried off the pitch by the fans, in their shoulder. He went on to win several more Uruguayan Championships before retiring from official football in 1952, at the age of 48! He joined as coach for the Nacional team. But football was his life. After retiring from football, he did not survive much longer, died from a heart attack in 1960, at the age of 55.
He still remains the most inspiring story of an athlete who was honoured with the ultimate accolade in professional sports.
Brazil vs. England
Round: Group Stage
Venue & Date: Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico, 7th June, 1970
Defending champions England faced two time winners Brazil in the fourth match of Group C. Since the draw for the 1970 World Cup, this was one of the most anticipated match-up in the tournament between two nations with a lot of legacy, and stardom. Both the teams had won their opening matches. Brazil defeated the Czechs 4-1 where as England defeated Romania 1-0.
England was led by Bobby Moore and had the likes of Bobby Charlton, Alan Ball, Geoff Hurst and legendary goalkeeper Gordon Banks. Brazil after their disappointing show in 1966 was determined to reclaim their lost glory and injured pride. The side led by Carlos Alberto had probably the best ever attacking line-up to play a World Cup, consisting Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Tostao.
Brazil started to attack from the very beginning of the match, and Gordon Banks was kept pretty busy from the start. He had to run out of his territory to kick out a ball in the initial minutes. He had to save Roberto’s shot diving to his right to prevent a goal. English defence had Bobby Moore, who managed to plug in gaps in the defence for large parts of the match, and contained Pele by not allowing him a clear sight of the goal.
But Brazil took the lead via a thundering shot from Jairzinho from the right side of the penalty area, after Pele laid down a perfect ball at Jairzinho’s feet. Brazil was looking for more goals, and around the 71st minute of the match, Carlos Alberto sent a low ball down the right-flank. Jairzinho chased the ball down the right flank and in spite of Brian Labone’s efforts sent in a looping cross across the English goal. Pele outjumped his marker Martin Peters to reach the ball, and took a header that dropped fast on the ground and was about to enter the goal. Banks was near the first post when the ball was in flight, and when the ball was going inside the goal, Banks virtually flew towards the second post and flipped the ball over the bar with his right hand.
The whole stadium stopped for a moment, then erupted in applause. Gordon Banks realised that he had saved the ball watching Pele’s reaction. Afterwards, Bobby Moore, Banks and Pele exchanged laughter by admitting that both Pele and Banks had thought it was a goal, while Moore told Banks that a younger Banks would have easily grabbed the ball! Gordon Banks was and still is remembered for this save. The save become a symbol of athleticism, dynamism and anticipation by a goalkeeper, and was termed as the “Save of the Century” by journalists, players and football pundits around the globe. Brazil went on to win the World Cup, while England lost to West Germany 2-3 in the quarterfinals. Gordon Banks had severe stomach upset, and vomiting conditions before the match. Alf Ramsey had to replace him with Peter Bonetti. Banks had to watch the match on his hotel room TV. With England leading 2-0, he was sure of victory and decided to rest and switched off the TV set. It was only when Bobby Moore returned to the hotel that the news of defeat was broken to Gordon Banks.
Match: Argentina vs. England
Venue & Date: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico, 22nd June, 1986
The best of any occasion is generally saved for the last. We have arrived at the summit of a 100-day, 100 moments journey from the past 19 World Cups. We finish with something that is arguably (or unanimously?) the best creation on the field of football. Yes, we are talking about the “Goal of the Century”, by perhaps the best player on the planet, Diego Armando Maradona.
In moment # 62, we discussed the best illegal goal of the World Cup by the same player, Diego Maradona, the famous ”Hand of God” goal. That goal was scored in the 51st minute of the match between England and Argentina. Everyone is aware of the significance of this match, given the Falkland war in the backdrop. So let us not go there again, let’s come to football directly.
The best illegal goal was followed by the best legal goal. Maradona was slowly growing in stature in the World Cup, with his mainstay being sustainability. He soaked up all the pressure and did not retaliate. His strength was immense, and it was near impossible to bring down a moving Maradona.
Around the 55th minute of the match, Hector Enrique passed the ball to Maradona just inside the Argentinian half. Maradona received the ball, dodged Peter Beardsley with one foot, dragged the ball towards himself and got past Peter Reid. He saw some open space in front of him and started his run, entering the English half.
Peter Reid was running just beside him casually (obviously he did not have the faintest of idea of what was going to happen) while Maradona Increased his speed. Terry Butcher came close to him, but was not sure how to tackle the crafty Argentine. He outstretched his right leg but soon realised Maradona had dribbled past him. Butcher tracked back and was running towards Maradona, but by this time, Maradona increased his speed and was about to enter the penalty area, when Terry Fenwick approached him. Before Fenwick could even reach Maradona, he ran past him. Valdano was also running along, hoping to help his captain. But his captain was on a different level.
When Maradona entered the penalty area, Butcher tried to tackle him from his right side and Peter Shilton also advanced towards him fast. Maradona first thought of shooting the ball, but then, he said, he remembered his brother Hugo’s words, who advised him to dodge past the goalkeeper in one-to-one situations. Maradona covered the ball and went past Shilton’s left side. Butcher almost reached Maradona, and tried to tackle him from behind. By that time, no force in the universe could stop the Argentine captain from scoring the goal. He placed the ball with his left foot inside the goal while Butcher was tackling him. He went up, ran towards the corner flag with fist up in the air. The world had just witnessed pure magic. The commentator in Spanish yelled like this “Pisa la pelota Maradona… arranca por la derecha…el genio del futbol mundial.. y déjà el tercero…y va a tocar para Buruchaga…Siempre Maradona…Genio! Genio! Genio!..ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta…
Indeed it was a piece of creation that demanded extreme ecstasy. Maradona himself admitted in his autobiography “El Diego” that whenever he sees the goal, he still cannot believe that he actually scored it. He said it was the kind of goal one can only dream of, but cannot actually score.
Maradona also acknowledged Valdano’s assistance during the goal. When he was about to enter the penalty area, he said that he thought Fenwick would leave him and chase Valdano, and he was thinking of passing the ball to Valdano who would be one-to-one with Shilton. But Fenwick did not leave the magician’s side, so he could not release the ball, and continued his run, throwing a dummy move which Shilton bought, and smoothly placed it in the goal.
Maradona also attributed the “noble” English defence and humble players for his goal. He admitted that the good-natured English players did not go for harsh tackle to knock him off; instead they tried to play in a gentleman’s way. Maradona’s goal was voted the “Goal of the Century” pipping Michael Owen’s goal in 1998 against Argentina by more than 8000 votes (Diego received 18062 votes).
Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, with Maradona scoring two more goals against Belgium in the semis, and setting up the final goal against West Germany in the final. Maradona has won many accolades, has played some incredible football on the field, and is, by many, regarded as “God” of Football.
This goal was his signature, and his movement was termed “Locus of God”. Indeed, this creation and Maradona’s journey from the ridiculous to the sublime, is the best ever possible way to end this wonderful series, “Countdown of 100 moments of World Cup 2014”.