The World Cup is a chance for players of the highest caliber across the globe to represent their nation on the biggest stage in the world. With it comes a sense of national pride, huge pressure and immense opportunity.
Those who tune into the World Cup often do so not to watch the 89 minutes of standard soccer – no: they watch it for the 1 minute of magic that makes it all worth it. Unforgettable moments, both team and individual, permeate through the history of the tournament and provide its iconicity. As we hope for many more moments, we look back at some of the most prominent takeaways from years gone by.
The 2014 round of 16 stage saw Belgium face off against the USA in an epic clash. With the pressure piled on, US goalkeeper Tim Howard dropped the performance of his life, making an astounding 16 saves throughout the course of the game. The Americans did, unfortunately, go on to lose the game 2-1 in extra time, but the score could have been tenfold if not for Howard’s expertise. The riveting nature of this game enthralled Americans globally and might just have catalyzed the rapid growth in popularity of soccer in the US, recorded to have overtaken baseball in recent years in ExpressVPN’s study.
We cannot discuss individual World Cup performances without bringing up this man – rest in peace. One of soccer’s godfathers, Maradona turned up against England in the quarter-finals with one of the performances of a lifetime. Scoring two goals to take Argentina to the semis, Maradona scored one of the most controversial goals of all time with his hand, as well as one of the greatest goals of all time as he beat just about the whole team from his own half – a goal that his Argentinian protégé Messi so famously recreated years later.
Long before he was a great manager at Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane was an incredible player. Arguably his most iconic moment, however, occurred not with a ball at his feet; rather, with his head in another player’s chest. Who can forget the Zidane headbutt of the 2006 Word Cup final?
After a heated interaction with Marco Materazzi, Zizou had decided the incident was beyond words and decided to use his head – and not in an intelligent way.
With the world having heard little about Columbian James Rodriguez beforehand, the attacking midfielder stormed his way onto the big scene with a series of outrageous performances in the 2014 World Cup, peaking with a beautifully struck volley that rocketed off the underside of the bar. The Columbian then secured a multi-million dollar deal to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
From talent to controversy, the World Cup’s history is brimming with sensational events and incredible individuals. Shocks, upsets, and pure brilliance draw viewers in at every edition, yet so often a team’s hard work will unravel before their very eyes – it is quite a spectacle. Here’s to more iconic moments in the beautiful game!