Often finals can be a disappointment. Teams can be scared of making the mistake that costs them victory, have peaked too soon or just bottle it. Thankfully, the vast majority of the 18 World Cup Finals played so far have had more than their fair share drama, intrigue and classic football. Read about our favourites here…
A clip from our favourite, the Fateful Final of 1950.
England have a spectacular knack of putting their fans through an emotional World Cup mixer every four years (if they qualify) more so than any other nation. Hell, we even managed to write a whole book on it. Click here in shamless plug action:
Here’s a run through of some of the most memorable Three Lions matches from the World Cup in chronological order. Click on the links for the full stories and clips of the match action.
June 29th 1950 - The Miracle on Grass, as the USA hand England perhaps the most humiliating loss in their history. Expect to hear this game mentioned one or two times before the sides face off again this weekend in Rustenburg.
July 2nd 1950 – England go crashing out of their first World Cup, probably wishing they hadn’t bothered with it all.
June 10th 1962 – England lose to a Garrincha-inspired Brazil in a match more fondly remembered (by us at least) for Jimmy Greaves playing Pet Rescue with a stray dog.
June 7th 1970 – Classic Brazil versus England in a game that had just about everything. Apart from an England win, obviously.
June 14th 1970 - West Germany get their revenge for 1966, as the Three Lions blow a 2-0 lead with 25 minutes remaining in their quarter-final.
June 16th 1982 - After twelve years in the World Cup wilderness England roar back, scoring after just 27 seconds in their ’82 opener against France, with Bryan Robson remarkably managing to stay fit long enough to score the early opener.
June 26th 1990 – David Platt’s 119th-minute volley remains my favourite ever England goal. As an over-excited eight-year-old, for me it didn’t get any better than this wonder goal against Belgium in the second round of Italia ’90.
July 1st 1990 - More Italia ’90 goodness, as England end Cameroon’s fantastic tournament in the quarter-finals.
July 4th 1990 – Germans! Penalties! Goal off Paul Parker’s backside! Gazza’s tears! Argh!
July 7th 1990 – England’s most capped player Peter Shilton and manager Bobby Robson bow out in the Italia ’90 3rd/4th place game against Italy.
June 30th 1998 – On of the most epic England games of recent years, as Argentina break English hearts in St Etienne.
June 7th 2002 – Redemption day for Beckham, as his winning penalty banishes the demons of his red card against Argentina in ’98.
June 15th 2002 – England set up a quarter-final clash with Brazil and the nation starts to believe.
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about that sunny day in 1966. Join us tomorrow for our favourite World Cup Finals.
We’ve had a trawl through the OTFD archives to bring your some of our favourite World Cup games. We’ve got some of the greatest teams, the biggest upsets and most bitter rivals from the first ever game. Click on the dates for a link to the full stories. Coming later this week: England’s greatest ever games and the best ever Finals.
July 13th 1930 - The first ever World Cup games as France beat Mexico and the USA take on Belgium.
Footage from the first ever World Cup.
June 19th 1958 – Pele announces his arrival to send John Charles and Wales home.
July 19th 1966 - The greatest ever World Cup upset? North Korea shock Italy.
June 17th 1970 – The ‘game of the century’ as Italy and West Germany contest an epic semi-final.
June 11th 1978 – Archie Gemmill scores Mark Renton’s favourite ever goal.
July 5th 1982 – Paulo Rossi silences the naysayers in one of the greatest personal comebacks since Lazarus.
July 8th 1982 – Harald Schumacher commits the worst foul ever as West Germany and France clash in the semi-finals.
June 25th 1986 – Days after scoring perhaps the greatest ever World Cup goal against England, Diego Maradona does it again against Belgium. Also on that day in 1990 David O’Leary blasts home from the penalty spot against Romania.
June 8th 1990 - The greatest ever upset part two? The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, led by Roger Milla, aged 84, stun World Champions Argentina in the Italia ’90 opener.
June 24th 1990 – Forget the Anglo-German rivalry, the Dutch really hate Die Mannschaft.Frank Rijkaard in particular, as he gobs into Rudi Voller’s horrific perm.
June 23rd 1998 – Believe it or not, in the olden days Scotland used to qualify for the World Cup, but never troubled the knockout stages. Here’s the story of their last World Cup match when Morocco sent home.
June 12th 2002 – Sweden sent pre-tournament favourites Argentina crashing out in the group stage.
This is by no means anywhere near an exhaustive list, so let us know your favourite World Cup matches below.
It’s nearly time. You can’t open a newspaper or turn a television on without being deluged with World Cup fever, so we thought we’d better jump on the bandwagon and trawl through the On This Football Day archives to bring you some of our favourite World Cup stories.
Coming this week we’ll bring you the most captivating games, the best Finals, the most controversial moments and a greatest hits of England’s efforts on the world stage.
In the meantime all you England fans can order our latest book, England On This Day, a day-by-day history of the Three Lions:
‘The English invented it, the Brazilians perfected it.’
As England and Brazil head east to lock horns in the Doha desert this weekend, we thought we’d run down the top five moments between the Seleção and Three Lions. All of these stories and a whole lot more can be found in our new book England On This Day, available here and in all good (and some bad) bookshops.
1970: The greatest save ever made
It may not have been immortalised in song form by Baddiel and Skinner like his skipper’s famous tackle that day, but Gordon Banks’ diving save from Pele’s first-half header in the pulsating 1970 World Cup clash is about as good as it gets. As the Santos striker nodded the ball down he began to turn away, shouting ‘Gooooal’, but Banks flung himself across his goal ‘like a salmon leaping up a waterfall’ as Pele himself later put it when the Stoke ‘keeper managed to tip the ball over the bar. ‘At that moment I hated Gordon Banks more than any man in soccer,’ explained Pele, before obviously remembering he never slags anyone off in case he risks losing a sponsorship deal. ‘But when I cooled down I had to applaud him with my heart for the greatest save I have ever seen.’
1984: Barnes Out-Brazils Brazil
Seasoned football spectators at the Maracanã are no doubt used to seeing players score after mazy 50-yard dribbles every other week, but not surely from young Watford midfielders. Having failed to qualify for Euro 84 England had nothing better to do than to turn up in Rio for an end of season friendly against the Seleção. Picking the ball up just inside the Brazil half Barnsey slalomed his way through the entire Brazilian defence before slotting past the ‘keeper to put England ahead. The Three Lions triumphed 2-0, handing Brazil their first defeat at the Maracanã for 27 years. Barnes said later: ‘I don’t remember much about my goal – I always liken it to an out-of-body experience. I look at it on TV now and I can’t remember doing any of it.’
1992: Lineker misses from the spot
England hosted Brazil at Wembley in a pre-Euro 92 friendly looking for a morale-boosting win before heading out to Sweden. Graham Taylor’s skipper Gary Lineker was eyeing up one last England swansong before his move to Japan’s Grampus 8 after the tournament, with the Spurs striker one short of equalling Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 England goals. When the Three Lions were awarded a penalty with the score at 0-0, up he stepped, but fluffed his chance to equal the record as his weak effort was saved by Carlos in the Brazilian goal. Things didn’t get any better for Lineker that summer, as he failed to find the net in England’s woeful Euro 92 campaign before being infamously subbed off against Sweden and being forever marooned on 48 international goals.
1962: Jimmy Greaves plays Dr Doolitle
England’s World Cup quarter-final against Brazil in 1962 wasn’t a particularly good day at the office, as a Garrincha-inspired Brazil team eased to a 3-1 win, but it did produce one of the more amusing on-pitch moments in England history. A stray dog ran on to the pitch and evaded everyone until Jimmy Greaves got down on all fours and beckoned the canine. He then grabbed the pooch who promptly urinated all over him. ‘I smelt so bad, but at least it meant the Brazilian defenders stayed clear of me,’ he said. Garrincha thought the whole thing was hilarious and kept the dog as a pet.
2002: Sven’s Half-time Team Talk
It was looking good for England. The nation had done the usual trick of being whipped up into a patriotic frenzy, convincing herself that 38 years of hurt was soon to be gone and England would romp to the 2002 World Cup title. As half-time approached England were 1-0 up against Brazil in their quarter-final clash in Shizuoka and keeping the Brazilians at bay. But in stoppage time Rivaldo popped up to equalise, and it was time for Sven-Göran Eriksson to start earning his money with a rip-roaring team talk. However, five minutes after the break England were 2-1 down thanks to a freak Ronaldinho goal, who lofted a 40-yard free kick over a flailing David Seaman after spotting the Arsenal stopper off his line. The lad had obviously done his homework. Even a 56th-minute red card for Ronaldinho didn’t stop the Brazilians, who held on to a 2-1 win on their way to winning a fifth World Cup. Gareth Southgate pointed the finger of blame solely at the Swede: ‘When we needed Winston Churchill, we got Iain Duncan Smith.’
AS Mark Hughes wonders how many more points he can drop before the Abu Dhabi United group get an itchy trigger finger, it’s back to 1996 when the City job saw enough managerial changes to make even Jesus Gil blush. Find out what happened here.
FOOTBALL and booze have got a long history together. Whether it’s George Best lamenting that “I spent a lot of money on booze birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered,” England’s infamous Euro ‘96 dentist chair celebration or Paul McGrath turning out half-tanked, the two have always gone hand-in-hand. Most of the time though, football’s drinking culture doesn’t involve the referee, but today in 1975 German official Wolf-Dieter Ahlenfelder turned up to officiate a Bundesliga clash after a few too many pre-match shandies. Read more.
EVER heard the one about the Lithuanian banker, title-challenging Scottish club and a convicted sex offender? Welcome to Heart of Midlothian, Scotland’s most colourful club, where today in 2005 former Portsmouth manager and convict, Graham Rix took over the table-topping side. Click here for more.
IN the history of good decisions, this one was a belter. You have to tip your hat to the big cheeses at Old Trafford because it was on this day in 1986 that Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed Manchester United manager. Read more.
Today in 2004 the mother of Brazilian superstar Robinho was kidnapped by bandits who then demanded a ransom from the player for her release and ordered him not to play football while they had her. Read on here.
A young Robinho showing he’s got the skills to pay the (in this case very gritty) bills.
IF you had to pin down Arsenal’s current position at the sharp end of football to just two men, one would have the be Arsene Wenger. The other, without a doubt would be Herbert Chapman. Read what he was up to today here.
WITH Huddersfield wallowing around in the third flight of English football it’s easy to forget that two of the greatest managers of all-time have sat in the dug-out at their former Leeds Road home. The first was Herbert Chapman, who led them to three successive titles in the 1920s and the other was Bill Shankly, who was appointed today in 1956. Read more.
SINCE Barcelona legend Pep Guardiola took over the managerial reigns at the Camp Nou last summer he’s not done a bad job, with trophies and goals galore. It was a different story today in 2001 though, as the Spanish midfielder failed a drugs test. Read more here.
CROYDON airport, November 4th 1945. As war-ravaged England struggles to get over the hardships of six years of conflict an aeroplane touches down from Moscow bringing some much needed excitement to the capital as Dynamo Moscow became the first Soviet club to visit the UK. See how they got on here.