After what has felt like the slowest four years football fans have had to endure, the World Cup has returned at long last.
Qatar’s 2022 World Cup is the first to be hosted by a Middle Eastern country and had seen enough controversy to last the entire tournament before it even began.
Despite the various discussions to be had off the pitch, this year’s World Cup has also provided spectators with plenty of entertaining fixtures to talk about – from Saudi Arabia’s shock win against football giants Argentina, to Japan’s valiant victory against the German powerhouses of the sport.
To celebrate this fest of football, discover some of the craziest moments from World Cups gone by.
1. The missing World Cup (1966)
The year 1966 is likely to ring bells for most English football fans as the year the Three Lions won the tournament for the first time.
However, there was a possibility there would be no trophy for England to eventually lift that summer after it went missing from a poorly guarded exhibition while on display in Westminster.
A frantic, week-long search ensued as police scrambled to find the famous Jules Rimet trophy in time for the tournament’s start.
Luckily, it was found by civilian David Corbett after his dog, Pickles, sniffed it out under a bush in south London – just in time for England to lift it in victory that summer.
2. Geoff Hurst’s ghost goal (1966)
The scores were tied at 2-2 as England battled against West Germany into extra time of the 1966 World Cup final after the Germans stole an equaliser in the last minute of regular time.
During an English attack, the ball was played from the deep, right flank to an eager Geoff Hurst as he waited in the West German penalty area.
He took one touch before thumping the ball goalward as he pivoted and fell backwards. His shot hit the crossbar and bounced straight down into the turf as the England team quickly swarmed the referee claiming the ball had crossed the goal line.
Bobby Moore’s team were much more confident about the goal than Gottfried Dest, the Hungarian referee for the game, who sought assistance from the so-called “Russian linesman” on the legitimacy of the claims.
Nevertheless, despite the very dubious nature of the shot, the goal was awarded before Hurst went on to score again, bagging himself the only hat trick to be scored in a World Cup final to this day, and win the tournament for England.
3. Luis Suarez bites Giorgio Chiellini (2014)
During the build up to the 2014 World Cup, Luis Suarez was making a concerted effort to try and ditch the “bad boy” image after he’d previously been accused of racism and being caught biting players during matches.
In this case, it would be a strange decision for him to bite yet another professional player during a game in one of the most widely viewed sporting events in the world.
Yet, for some reason, this is exactly what he ended up doing as he sunk his teeth into Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s match against Italy.
Chiellini is very much the classic, “hard man” centre back known for his robust tackles. So, seeing him writhing on the floor baffled a lot of people, including the referee, until he withdrew his shirt to reveal a scary bite-mark imprinted on his shoulder.
Bizarrely, Suarez would not receive a card. Although, he was eventually fined 100,000 Swiss francs while also being suspended for nine games.
4. Germany thrashes Brazil by 6 goals (2014)
Germany and Brazil are both two mainstays in the conversation of the greatest footballing nations on the planet, having won the World Cup and incredible nine times between them.
In fact, with Brazil widely regarded as the uncrowned king of the tournament with five World Cup trophies under its belt, most fans were expecting a fierce competition to take place when they met in 2014’s quarter-final.
What happened left football fans around the world in awe as they watched Germany proceed to thump five goals past Brazil in the first half an hour of the game.
The only respite Brazil could conjure was a 90th minute goal from Oscar. However, the game was far beyond their reach and finished with a humiliating score line of 7-1 in favour of the Germans.
5. Zinedine Zidane headbutts Marco Materazzi (2006)
In the final of the 2006 World Cup, France and Italy faced each other in the tournament’s ultimate faceoff to be crowned champions.
A close game finished 1-1 after the regular 90 minutes – even the possession statistic saw them apart only by a single percentile.
With neither side coming out on top, the game spilled into extra time.
It was in the 110th minute, as he retreated to his own half, that Zinedine Zidane turned back to face the Italian goal and thrust his head into the chest of Marco Materazzi.
Crowds were stunned and Zidane was shown a red card, bringing his World Cup to an immediate end.
The game’s extra time saw no change to the score and Italy went on to win on penalties – a deflated France without their magic Zizou there to convert.
6. Maradona’s Hand of God (1986)
In only the country’s second quarter-final since winning the tournament in 1966, the England team of 1986 had high hopes of bringing the World Cup trophy back from Mexico.
Star players of the time such as Gary Lineker, Ray Wilkins, and Bryan Robson featured in the team and gave fans strong hopes of success – Lineker even scored the most goals in the entire tournament to win the coveted Golden Boot.
As the game drew further into the second half, still goalless, Argentina’s footballing phenomenon Diego Maradona decided to take matters into his own hands.
A lofted, aerial ball into the penalty area reached Maradona who climbed through the air in an attempt to make contact with the pass that was seemingly out of reach for the short-statured Argentine’s head.
Out of reach, it was… but make contact, he did.
Instead of heading the ball, Maradona punched it into the goal with his hand before the scathing England team instantly descended on the referee in protest.
It was ludicrous, but the goal stood.
Maradona’s felonious goal eventually became known as the “Hand of God”, after a moment of true English heartbreak.
14 Dec 2022
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