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Memorable World Cup moments

Here's a look at some of the most memorable moments in the history of the FIFA World Cup.

1930: Where the World Cup began

The 21st World Cup starts in Moscow and
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The 21st World Cup starts in Moscow and billions around the world are expected to tune in during the monthlong tournament -- a far cry from its low-key start in 1930 in Uruguay.

Back then, many European countries, including Germany and Italy, opted against making the multi-week boat trip to Montevideo, while England and the other three British associations had withdrawn from FIFA following a dispute over payments. In the end, only four teams from Europe made the trip.

A quarter of a century or so after the idea of a global soccer tournament was first suggested, 13 teams gathered in South America.

Uruguay, which had won the gold medal in soccer at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics, was given the right to host the competition for the Jules Rimet Trophy, the World Cup's original name in honor of the FIFA president who had done so much to make the tournament a reality.

France forward Lucien Laurent scored the first goal in World Cup history in the 19th minute of his team's opening match against Mexico. Barely 5,000 spectators were present to witness that historic moment in sporting history.

"And it was snowing!" Laurent recalled years later.

Eventually, Uruguay faced off against Argentina to see who would become the first winner of the World Cup. The final at the Centenario Stadium started off fairly bizarrely, with a disagreement as to which ball to use. Eventually, it was agreed that an Argentine ball would be used in the first half and a Uruguayan one in the second.

The arrangement seemed to work for Uruguay, which came from behind with three second-half goals to win 4-2 in front of nearly 70,000 supporters (others, however, estimate that the actual crowd was nearer to the 100,000 mark).

The World Cup had achieved liftoff.

1938: With war looming, Italy dons black

After taking power in Italy in the 1920s,
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After taking power in Italy in the 1920s, fascist leader Benito Mussolini embraced sports as a political tool.

That was evident at both the 1934 and 1938 World Cups -- both won by Italy.

At the latter tournament, Italy sought to retain its title in France at a time when Europe was on the cusp of war. Spain was not there because of its civil war, while Austria, which had qualified, had to give up its berth in the tournament after being swallowed up by Nazi Germany.

Italy caused controversy in its quarterfinal match against the host nation when the team wore black shirts and gave the fascist right-arm salute before kickoff. It's unclear whether they were ordered to ditch their traditional blue shirts by Mussolini himself. Despite vociferous opposition from French fans, Italy easily defeated the hosts and then beat Brazil in the semifinals to set up a final against Hungary.

Italy successfully -- and deservedly -- defended its World Cup title in Paris, beating Hungary 4-2 in the final with two goals apiece from Gino Colaussi and Silvio Piola. It would keep the Jules Rimet Trophy for another 12 years as the world descended into war.

The stain of the "blackshirts," named after the paramilitary wing of Mussolini's National Fascist Party, has never gone away.

"Returning the intimidation from the terraces, Italy won the sporting battle on the field," said Simon Martin, author of "Sport Italia" and a sports historian at the University of Buckingham. "The desire to forget saw Mussolini swept under the carpet, and the 1938 blackshirt and Roman salute were consigned to one of the World Cup's and FIFA's least edifying but overtly political moments."

1950: U.S. beats England in perhaps biggest shock of all

One of the great appeals of the World
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One of the great appeals of the World Cup is to see the mighty occasionally vanquished, to remind everyone involved that nothing should ever be taken for granted.

Perhaps the first -- and most seismic -- shock in World Cup history took place in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1950 when an England team that was expected to contend for the title was beaten by the United States, a hastily assembled group of part-time players. It has become known as the "Miracle on Grass."

After returning to the FIFA fold, England was playing in its first World Cup. The English beat Chile, and the United States team was not expected to pose any problems. Even though the great Stanley Matthews was omitted from the lineup, England was exceptionally strong, captained by Billy Wright and driven forward by Tom Finney.

England dominated the match but with eight minutes to go in the first half, the Americans incredibly took the lead with a header from Joe Gaetjens, a dishwasher of Haitian descent from New York. It was a lead that would never be surrendered.

Walter Bahr, who sent the cross for Gaetjens to score, recalled years later that he and his teammates only had a week of training when arriving in Brazil but that the team could have won all three of the games it played.

"The greatest thing we had going for us was the chemistry," he said.

Legend has it that newspaper editors on both sides of the Atlantic thought the 1-0 result coming through on their wire feeds was either some sort of typographical error or even a hoax.

The picture of Gaetjens being carried off by cheering fans after the game proved there was no mistake.

Both teams lost their next matches and failed to qualify for the next stage. It would be another 40 years before the United States made it to another World Cup.

Gaetjens tragically was not there. He was killed in 1964, a victim of the regime of former Haitian president Francois Duvalier.

1954: West Germans beat Hungary in ‘Miracle of Bern’

Never, ever, underestimate the Germans on the soccer
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Never, ever, underestimate the Germans on the soccer field.

That's a globally accepted truth, one that has its roots in the 1954 World Cup final in Switzerland.

Going into that tournament, Hungary was the overwhelming favorite. After all, Hungary was the Olympic champion, unbeaten in four years, and had arguably the best player in the world in Ferenc Puskas.

The team's performances throughout the tournament only cemented the idea that Hungary would become the third country to win the World Cup, after the dual successes of Uruguay and Italy. In its first two games, Hungary racked up a total of 17 goals, including an 8-3 win over West Germany.

After beating Uruguay 4-2 in the semifinals, in a match contemporary observers rank as one of the best ever played, Hungary would meet the West Germans again in the final.

With two goals in the first eight minutes from Puskas and Zoltan Czibor, it looked like a repeat of the first encounter was likely. Instead, the West Germans responded almost immediately, with a goal in the 10th minute from Max Morlock. Helmut Rahn, a late addition to the squad, got his team back on level terms in the 18th.

Rahn then sealed the win six minutes from the end. West Germany had incredibly beaten the "Magical Magyars."

The match has been dubbed "The Miracle of Bern" and laid the seeds of one of soccer's most enduring adages: Never, ever, underestimate the Germans on the soccer field.

England in 1970, the Netherlands in 1974 and France in 1982 are three teams that can attest to that.

1958: Pele comes of age as Brazil wins

It took a 17-year-old phenom to finally turn
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It took a 17-year-old phenom to finally turn things around for Brazil.

Present at each World Cup since its start in 1930, Brazil had always fallen short -- most notably in 1950 when the host country lost the final match to Uruguay.

The trauma of losing that game in front of a crowd some have estimated at more than 200,000 in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro was so overwhelming that Brazil decided to ditch its white shirts in favor of what has become the iconic yellow shirt.

It wasn't long before Brazil became champion. In 1958, Brazil won its first World Cup in thrilling fashion, defeating host Sweden 5-2 in the final and in the process becoming the first team to win the tournament outside its continent.

The tournament is largely remembered for the emergence of 17-year-old Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Pele, as he is better known, hadn't actually started the tournament, but coach Vicente Feola was forced into making changes after his team labored to a 0-0 draw against England.

The changes worked, none more so than the introduction of the agile and supremely skillful Pele. What astounded those who saw him was just how calm someone so young could be at moments of high drama.

Pele scored the only goal as Brazil beat Wales in the quarterfinals and he then netted a hat trick in Brazil's 5-2 semifinal victory over France. He added a further two goals in the final, with Brazil playing in blue because Sweden was wearing yellow.

His first goal, in the 55th minute, put Brazil ahead 3-1 and effectively ended the match as a contest. It is as memorable as any scored in a World Cup final. Controlling a looping ball into the penalty area with his thigh, Pele flipped it over his head, spun around and volleyed the ball past the Sweden goalkeeper.

A star was well and truly born.

1962: The Battle of Santiago

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"Good evening. The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game."

Those were the words of BBC commentator David Coleman as he introduced the British broadcaster's coverage of a group match between host Chile and Italy at the 1962 World Cup.

During his commentary, he described what he was watching as the "Battle of Santiago." It is a label that has stuck to describe what is likely the most lawless match in World Cup history.

The backdrop to the game had already added an edge to the match. Two Italy players -- Jose Altafini and Humberto Maschio -- hailed from South America, while Italian reporters had maligned Chile as a country. Italian football was also in the vice-like defensive grip of "catenaccio," which literally translates as a door bolt.

It was a toxic brew.

The 66,000 fans at Chile's national stadium witnessed spitting, two-footed challenges, punches, scuffles and even police intervention.

Italy got much of the blame but Chile wasn't immune -- Maschio's nose, after all, was broken following a punch from Leonel Sanchez.

Amazingly, Sanchez, the son of a professional boxer, stayed on the field -- referee Ken Aston and his assistant missed the punch.

But Italy defender Mario David was looking for revenge after he had been felled by a Sanchez left hook. Soon after, he high-kicked at Sanchez's throat and was sent off, joining teammate Georgio Ferrini, who had earlier been ejected for lashing out at a Chile player.

Italy, down to nine men, held on until two late goals saw Chile come out a 2-0 winner. Chile eventually came third in the tournament while Italy went home in disgrace.

1966: Hurst hat trick wins it for England

Alf Ramsey's prediction that
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Alf Ramsey's prediction that "England will win the World Cup" at home was bold. After all, the home of football had done very little since returning to the FIFA fold in 1950.

But Ramsey was prescient as England became the first host to win the World Cup since Italy in 1934, largely thanks to a hat trick from Geoff Hurst.

After a limp start to the 1966 tournament, Ramsey's team evolved, one that was organized and resilient -- dubbed "The Wingless Wonders."

It would be unfair to say England was lacking in flair.

In Bobby Charlton, England had one of the game's great strikers of a ball, and there have been few defenders in the history of the game more composed than the captain, Bobby Moore.

And although Ramsey lost striker Jimmy Greaves because of injury, he was able to promote Hurst to the starting lineup. Ramsey would stick with Hurst, the scorer of the only goal in the quarterfinal victory over Argentina, for the final against West Germany even though Greaves was healthy again.

It's a decision that has allowed Hurst's name to become synonymous with World Cup final history.

More than 50 years later, Hurst is still the only player to score a hat trick in a final. His first, a header in the 18th minute, got England back to 1-1. The match was even until Martin Peters put England ahead in the 78th, a lead it held until the last minute of normal time when Wolfgang Weber scrambled home an equalizer.

It may have been agony for England but Ramsey had one last moment of inspiration before extra time started: "You've won it once -- now go and do it again," he said. "Look at them, they're finished."

Cue Hurst and one of the most controversial moments in World Cup final history.

Late in the first period of extra time, the tireless Alan Ball crossed to Hurst, who turned and shot. The ball thumped down from the underside of the West German crossbar. The nearby Roger Hunt raised his arms to proclaim the ball bounced over the West Germany goal-line. Weber thought he headed the ball over for a corner. Swiss referee Gotffried Dienst went over to Soviet linesman Tofik Bakhramov who believed there was a goal.

Hurst added his third in the dying seconds with a thumping left-footed drive to make it 4-2.

The country that had done more than any other to make football the world's top team sport finally won the World Cup.

It's still waiting for its second.

1970: Captain’s strike caps glorious Brazil

The 1970 World Cup in Mexico is considered
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The 1970 World Cup in Mexico is considered by many to be the best ever and is packed full of memorable moments, from England captain Bobby Moore's precision tackle on Pele to Italy's see-saw victory over West Germany in the semifinals.

But nothing quite matches the beauty of Brazil's final goal in the final.

Carlos Alberto's goal in the heat and altitude of Mexico City against a strong Italian team often tops the list of the greatest goals ever scored. Few would argue against it being the best team goal in history.

Incorporating all that is magical about Brazilian football, it is spell-binding even from the vantage point of today. The captain's first-time strike to make it 4-1 culminated a move that included nine passes and turned defense into attack, stretching the field from one side to the other. The build-up also showcased the individual brilliance of the Brazilian players, including the dribbling prowess of Clodoaldo, Jairzinho's drive and Pele's vision.

"That was sheer delightful football," BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme said at the time.

That Brazil team played some of the most ebullient football the world has ever seen and is the one that people most refer to when talking of the "Beautiful Game."

1974: Cruyff-inspired Netherlands falls short

So close yet so far. That pretty much
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So close yet so far.

That pretty much explains the World Cup experience for the Netherlands, a three-time losing finalist.

The first time they made it to the final was in 1974 in West Germany, the team's first involvement in the World Cup since World War II.

Along with the Hungary team of 1954, the Dutch side that year is widely perceived to be the best-ever not to win the World Cup. The team, which was packed with players from the great Feyenoord and Ajax sides that dominated the European Cup in the early 1970s, pioneered "Total Football," a strategy that effectively did away with positions -- players were interchangeable on the field at all times.

The team was spearheaded by Johan Cruyff, who in a group match against Sweden showcased the move he is perhaps best known for -- the "Cruyff Turn."

With his back to Sweden defender Jan Olsson, Cruyff dragged the ball with his right foot behind his planted left foot, abruptly turned and darted toward the ball. Olsson appeared bamboozled, seemingly stuck to the ground while trying to understand what had just happened.

Cruyff scored three goals during the tournament, including a superb volley against Brazil that confirmed the team would make the final. And even though the Dutch would play host West Germany, the team in orange was widely expected to prevail. That was especially so after Johan Neeskens put the Netherlands ahead with a second-minute penalty, the first in World Cup final history.

Instead of pressing for more, the Dutch toyed with West Germany. Many observers thought the Dutch were looking to humiliate their opponents for a variety of historical reasons. Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands for much of World War II, breeding resentment that endured for decades.

Another penalty got West Germany level, however. And with two minutes left in the first half, striker Gerd Mueller put his team ahead, a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

The Dutch are still waiting to lift soccer's most coveted trophy, losing again in the finals of 1978 and 2010.

It won't be this year. The country's national team failed to qualify for the tournament in Russia.

1978: Confetti greets Argentina’s 1st triumph

Controversy and confetti. The 1978 World Cup in
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Controversy and confetti. The 1978 World Cup in Argentina was awash with both.

Twelve years after being awarded the right to host the World Cup, Argentina was a very different country. It had been under the control of a military junta since 1976, after a coup overthrew the government of Isabel Peron. Its ruthless treatment of political opponents -- tens of thousands would eventually disappear -- cast a shadow over the tournament.

The pressure on coach Cesar Luis Menotti and the team to exploit their home advantage and become the third South American country after Uruguay and Brazil to win the World Cup was immense. But after nearly 50 years of trying, Argentina did just that, defeating the Netherlands 3-1 in extra time in front of a confetti-laden home crowd.

Inspired by striker Mario Kempes, who scored twice in the final to take his tournament tally to six, Argentina inflicted the second straight final defeat on the Dutch, who almost won it at the end of normal time when Robbie Rensenbrink hit the post.

The Dutch were without Johan Cruyff following his last-minute withdrawal. Cruyff later revealed that he didn't board the plane to Argentina because of a kidnapping attempt months earlier. At the time, there was widespread speculation that his absence was an act of protest against the junta.

Forty years later, Argentina's triumph still raises eyebrows.

In that World Cup, there was a second group stage that determined which teams made it to the final, but the scheduling did not allow for the final group matches to take place at the same time. In Argentina's case, the team took the field knowing that a 4-0 victory over Peru was required after Brazil had won its last group match against Poland 3-1.

Argentina won 6-0.

Raanan Rein, an Israeli professor of Latin American history, told a FIFA-hosted conference on World Cup history in 2010 that he was "100 percent persuaded" that the junta was somehow involved, collaborating with "at least one foreign government" to fix the match.

Others argue that the Peru team just fell away after a strong start -- it happens all the time -- and were unnerved by the intimidating atmosphere inside the stadium in Rosario.

Regardless, it was time for the joyous people of Argentina to let the confetti fly.

1982: Cynicism wins as West Germany beats Austria

FIFA had been warned in 1978 that final
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FIFA had been warned in 1978 that final group games should be played at the same time to ensure fairness.

Four years later in Spain, one of the most controversial World Cup matches took place when West Germany played Austria in the "Disgrace of Gijon." Similar to earlier circumstances when Argentina routed Peru 6-0 to make it to the World Cup final, both teams took the field of play knowing the stakes.

In the latter case, the two teams knew that a 1-0 win for West Germany would be enough for both to progress to the next round because they both had superior goal differences compared to Algeria, which had won its final group game against Chile the day before.

After West Germany took an early lead through a goal by Horst Hrubesch, neither team did much to try to score the rest of the way. There were 40-yard back passes to the goalkeeper and endless passages of play involving sideward moves.

The crowd, which included fans of Algeria, grew restless. The final minutes of the match were particularly drab.

Though there is no indication that it was fixed, the match has gone down as one of the most cynical ever to be played. Algeria's fans waved banknotes to illustrate their fury at what had taken place on the field.

It prompted FIFA to change the rules. From 1986, the final group games would be played at the same time.

Algeria met eventual world champion Germany in the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup, and the memory of the "Disgrace of Gijon" remained a motivation tool for coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

"Rigging kept us from going further," Halilhodzic said ahead of the match, which Algeria narrowly lost 2-1.

1982: Shootout decides World Cup match for 1st time

For many, the 1982 semifinal match between France
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For many, the 1982 semifinal match between France and West Germany is the greatest World Cup game of them all.

It had everything -- goals, high drama, arguably the worst foul in the tournament's history and, for the first time at the World Cup, a penalty shootout.

Taking place on a hot evening in southern Spain, the two teams took the field in Seville knowing that the winner would meet Italy in the final three days later. The Azzurri had comfortably beaten Poland 2-0 earlier that day, the in-form Paulo Rossi netting twice.

If history was all that mattered, then two-time champion West Germany would have been the clear favorite. France, after all, had never made it to the final.

But following an opening loss to England, the team marshalled by midfield great Michel Platini was emerging as a potential winner. West Germany, by contrast, had barely got into its stride, grinding out the results it needed to make the semifinals.

When France took a 3-1 lead halfway through the first period of extra time with a sublime strike from Alain Giresse, the match looked over. But goals from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Klaus Fischer brought West Germany level.

In the shootout, the first one to miss was West Germany midfielder Uli Stielike, who was taking his team's third penalty. Didier Six missed France's fourth and the shootout eventually went to sudden death after Rummenigge and Platini converted. After Horst Hrubesch made it 5-4 for West Germany, the pressure on Maxime Bossis was immense. His effort was saved by Harald Schumacher and West Germany was through to the final.

Schumacher was exceptionally lucky to still be on the field. In the 57th minute, France substitute Patrick Battiston was superbly put through on goal by Platini and Schumacher charged out. After nudging the ball past Schumacher and just wide of the goal, Battiston was felled by the goalkeeper, who had recklessly charged out.

Battiston ended up unconscious, but Schumacher was unmoved. The referee gave nothing.

Italy won the final 3-1 -- with the support of most neutrals.

For France, that semifinal loss remains the "Tragedy of Seville."

1982: Rossi explodes into life as Italy wins 3rd title

Italy has a reputation of being a slow-starter
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Italy has a reputation of being a slow-starter at the World Cup, not least because of its exploits at the 1982 tournament in Spain.

The team barely advanced after drawing its three group games against Poland, Cameroon and Peru, scoring only twice. With an unbalanced 24-team format at that World Cup, third place was enough for some to make it through to the second group stage.

But few gave the Azzurri much of a chance to go further, not least because its reward was to be grouped against defending champion Argentina, now reinforced with a young Diego Maradona, and Brazil, the team that had lit up the first round.

After beating Argentina 2-1, Italy knew that only victory against Brazil would confirm its place in the semifinals.

Brazil was playing the most exhilarating football, and a first World Cup triumph in 12 years looked likely. The goals were abundant even though Brazil arguably didn't have a quality striker. Why would that matter, anyway, when the team was blessed with an array of attacking midfielders in Zico, Socrates, Falcao and Toninho Cerezo?

But in that match, the hitherto out-of-form Paulo Rossi exploded into life.

Rossi, who had just returned from a suspension for alleged match-fixing, hadn't scored in Italy's first four games and coach Enzo Bearzot was under intense pressure to drop him.

Bearzot's faith was rewarded after Rossi scored a hat trick that saw Italy beat Brazil 3-2 in one of the great World Cup encounters. No Brazil team since has ever matched the attacking intent of coach Tele Santana's side.

With another two goals in the semifinals against Poland, Rossi was on fire and a third World Cup triumph for the Azzurri was looming.

In the final against West Germany, Rossi put Italy ahead with his sixth goal in three matches. Midfielder Marco Tardelli soon doubled the lead, his celebration one of the most memorable in World Cup history. Alessandro Altobelli added a third to give Italy a surprisingly easy victory despite a late consolation goal from Paul Breitner. The 3-1 victory ensured Italy won the World Cup for the first time in 44 years.

1986: Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal

Diego Maradona scored one of the most underhanded
Photo Credit: AP / Carlo Fumagalli

Diego Maradona scored one of the most underhanded goals in World Cup history in 1986. It's known as the "Hand of God."

Argentina wasn't a one-man team at the tournament in Mexico, but Maradona made it look like it was. That was especially true in the quarterfinals against England, when he scored one of the game's greatest goals as well as one of the most controversial.

Standing at 5-foot-5 (1.65 meters), Maradona had a low center of gravity allied with exceptional strength, a combination that allowed him to wiggle free from opponents in a flash.

After his disappointment at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, where he was sent off in Argentina's final match against Brazil, Maradona turned up in Mexico with a heap of pressure on his back.

It was clear he was one of the most talented players in the history of the game, but to be bracketed alongside Pele as the best ever, he surely needed to win the World Cup.

Maradona handled the pressure.

Perhaps no player has ever dominated a World Cup as much as Maradona did in 1986. That was evident at Azteca Stadium where Argentina met England in their first match since the 1982 Falklands War.

This was the match that cemented Maradona's complex reputation.

Early in the second half, Maradona scored his first goal. England defender Steve Hodge intercepted a pass and flicked the ball back toward goalkeeper Peter Shilton. But Maradona, who had made his way into the penalty area after the previous attack fizzled, leapt up and got to the ball before Shilton. The ball somehow trickled into the net.

Replays showed Maradona used his left fist, not his head, to score. After the match, he explained the goal came "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."

Later in the match, as if intent on showcasing his incredible potential, Maradona picked up the ball around the halfway line and toyed with the English players. Through a myriad of dribbles, feints and sheer body strength, he scored what many consider the greatest individual goal of all time.

Despite a late fightback from England, Argentina held on to win 2-1 and make the semifinals, where Maradona scored another fantastic individual goal against Belgium.

In the final, West Germany contained him -- up to a point.

After coming back from 2-0 down, West Germany was looking strong. However, with minutes to go in regular time, Maradona threaded a pass through to Jorge Burruchaga, who calmly slotted it past goalkeeper Harald Schumacher to secure Argentina's second World Cup victory.

Maradona would have more highs -- and lows -- in his career, but his exploits in 1986 will forever seal his status as one of the greatest players of all time.

1990: Gazza’s tears help relaunch English soccer

Barring its sole triumph at home in 1966,
Photo Credit: AP / Roberto Pfeil

Barring its sole triumph at home in 1966, England hadn't done much at the World Cup. And by 1990, the national game was in deep trouble.

Hooliganism, falling attendances and ramshackle stadiums had brought English soccer to new lows.

Arguably, it was the team's performance at the World Cup in Italy -- and the tears of a 23-year-old midfielder from Newcastle in particular -- that reignited the country's love affair with the game.

Paul Gascoigne, widely known as Gazza, had made a late run into England's starting line-up for the World Cup but he ended up playing a central role in the team's advancement to the semifinals. Following lackluster performances in the group stage, England beat Belgium in the round of 16 and then saw off the thrilling challenge of Cameroon in the quarterfinals to set up an encounter against long-time rival West Germany.

It's an epochal match in English soccer history that confirmed that the game's popularity did not just reside among the ranks of the working class. It even spawned a popular stage play called "An Evening with Gary Lineker."

England outplayed the West Germans for large stretches of the match, but unluckily fell behind when Andreas Brehme's free kick deflected off defender Paul Parker and looped over goalkeeper Peter Shilton. England eventually equalized with 10 minutes to go when Lineker took advantage of some lax German defending.

It was during extra time that Gascoigne was reduced to tears after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament for a reckless tackle on Thomas Berthold. That caution would mean that he would miss the World Cup final if England was to go through. Realizing the consequences, Gascoigne's lip wobbled and the tears started to flow.

Though England lost the ensuing penalty shootout, the watching public back home felt for Gascoigne.

Those with a more commercial bent took note at the scale of interest in that match. Soon English soccer would be awash with cash, money that was spent on modernizing the stadiums and buying some of the best players from around the world.

1990: Beckenbauer wins World Cup as player and coach

In 1990, months after the Berlin Wall came
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In 1990, months after the Berlin Wall came crashing down, West Germany won its third World Cup and Franz Beckenbauer became the first person to win as captain and coach.

Beckenbauer, who many credit with revolutionizing the role of the defender into a more offensive and elegant position, had been part of the World Cup fabric as far back as 1966 when, at the tender age of 20, he played a pivotal role in West Germany's advancement to the World Cup final.

Beckenbauer came back four years later in 1970 and was again prominent when West Germany avenged that defeat to beat England 3-2 in the quarterfinals, having been two goals down.

In his third World Cup at home in 1974, Beckenbauer finally came out on top when West Germany -- the team has a habit of doing this -- came from behind to beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the final in Munich.

Beckenbauer became the first captain to lift aloft the new World Cup trophy (shown above) -- Brazil had been given the previous Jules Rimet Trophy on a permanent basis after its third World Cup triumph four years earlier.

Beckenbauer was appointed coach of the West German team in 1984 and surprisingly took a team few thought capable of winning to the 1986 World Cup final against a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Though losing 3-2, Beckenbauer had clearly crafted a team that showcased many of the hallmarks that marked his time as a player -- creativity allied to courage and purpose.

In 1990 in Italy, Beckenbauer's team avenged that defeat, deservedly winning a dour final with an 85th-minute penalty from Andreas Brehme. Argentina may have had Maradona but the team was very different to the one that vivaciously triumphed four years earlier, evidenced by the fact that Pedro Monzon became the first player to be sent off in a final. Teammate Gustavo Dezotti became the second.

Whatever depths Argentina fell to in that final, West Germany had joined Brazil in becoming a three-time World Cup winner.

1994: Escobar murdered after Colombia’s exit

Days after returning home from the 1994 World
Photo Credit: AP / Eric Draper

Days after returning home from the 1994 World Cup in the United States, Colombia defender Andres Escobar was shot dead in his hometown of Medellin.

The murder ranks as one of the most shocking moments in World Cup history and cast a shadow over the rest of the tournament.

It appeared to be directly linked to the inadvertent own-goal he scored that gave the host country the lead in their group match at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles on June 22. Colombia eventually lost the game 2-1, and with it any chance of progressing further in the tournament.

The team, which included talents such as captain Carlos Valderrama and striker Faustino Asprilla, faced widespread criticism at home for failing to get out of a relatively easy group that also included Romania and Switzerland.

On July 2, with the World Cup in full swing, the 27-year-old Escobar was out at a bar in Medellin, a city then teeming with drug traffickers. Escobar was harangued about the own-goal, and was then shot repeatedly.

The motive for the murder has never been clearly established but many still link it to the fury of Colombian drug lords at losing a gambling fortune because of the country's surprisingly early World Cup exit.

Humberto Munoz Castro, who had connections to a powerful Colombian cartel, was arrested and confessed to the killing. He refused to implicate his bosses. Found guilty, Munoz was initially handed a 43-year jail term. He served only 11 years.

1998: Peace reigns as US faces Iran

In one of the biggest geopolitical clashes at
Photo Credit: AP / Michel Euler

In one of the biggest geopolitical clashes at a World Cup, the United States played Iran in a group match at the 1998 tournament in France.

Relations between the two countries had been hostile since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, which ousted the pro-American Shah and eventually led to a drawn-out hostage crisis that severely blighted President Jimmy Carter's re-election bid the following year.

When the teams met in 1998, French riot police were on site at the stadium in Lyon. They weren't needed. The teams did their best to reduce tensions by posing together in a group photo. Iran's players even brought white roses for their opponents.

A spirited match that was low on malice saw Iran end up winning 2-1, its last victory in the World Cup. Neither team managed to progress beyond the group stage.

Relations between the countries are particularly strained again after President Donald Trump announced he will withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal brokered with Iran, but there's no likelihood of the teams competing at this year's World Cup. While Iran will face Spain, Portugal and Morocco in Group B, the United States will be watching on television after failing to qualify for the first time since 1986.

1998: France defender Blanc scores 1st ‘golden goal’

Sudden death is used in an array of
Photo Credit: AP / Luca Bruno

Sudden death is used in an array of sports to determine the outcome of a match when the score is tied.

Soccer decided to embrace the concept in the mid-1990s, and FIFA sanctioned its use in the World Cup for the first time in France in 1998.

The hope was that the "golden goal" -- the linguistically more positive term used in soccer -- would promote attacking play and reduce the likelihood of a penalty shootout, which many in the game considered to be an unfair way of deciding matches.

The reality, many believe, more often than not proved to be the opposite. Faced with the prospect of instant elimination during the 30 minutes of extra time, teams grew cagey.

That was certainly the case in a round of 16 match in Lens between host France and Paraguay. The French, without the suspended Zinedine Zidane, struggled to break down the stubborn Paraguay defense and the prospect of a penalty shootout loomed.

But with only six minutes left in extra time, France defender Laurent Blanc shot past Paraguay goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert to secure victory. All of France breathed a sigh of relief that its national team had avoided an early exit from a tournament it would go on to win.

France's experience with sudden death was positive. Two years later, Les Bleus won the European Championship with a "golden goal" from David Trezeguet.

After again using it in 2002 at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan, FIFA reverted back to the traditional 30-minute period of extra time in Germany in 2006, followed by penalties if the scores were level.

The evidence never truly supported the notion that the "golden goal" promoted attacking play.

1998: France wins, but what happened to Ronaldo?

Despite playing a central role in the establishment
Photo Credit: AP / Michel Euler

Despite playing a central role in the establishment of the World Cup, France had always fallen short at the tournament. That changed on one glorious night in Paris in 1998.

After a strong start to the tournament it was hosting for the second time, France struggled in the knockout stages. It only managed to make the final after defender Lilian Thuram scored the only two goals of his 142-match international career to give France a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Croatia.

The prevailing view was that beating defending champion Brazil would prove to be beyond Les Bleus. After all, Brazil had Ronaldo, the undoubted player of the tournament.

But France strolled to its maiden title , two first-half headers from the great Zinedine Zidane easing the nerves in the Stade de France. A third goal from Emmanuel Petit in injury time was the cue for wild celebrations across the country, with the team hailed for its multi-ethnic heritage.

In scenes reminiscent of Paris' liberation from Nazi occupation in 1944, more than 1 million people stormed the Champs-Elysees to celebrate.

For Brazil, the final remains a mystery.

The team just never got going, its underperformance blamed on the health of Ronaldo. To the shock of just about everyone, coach Mario Zagallo left his main striker out of his starting line-up, apparently for health reasons.

However, just before the match, another team sheet was submitted, this time with Ronaldo's name on it. Whatever happened, Ronaldo was a very different player that night and Brazil was a very different team.

Ronaldo would get another chance four years later to put the ghosts of Paris behind him.

He did just that.

2002: Ronaldo puts Paris agony behind him

The path to glory can be a painful
Photo Credit: AP / Dusan Vranic

The path to glory can be a painful one. Ronaldo, one of Brazil's greatest strikers, can attest to that.

The big question at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan centered on Ronaldo and whether he could exorcise the ghosts of four years earlier.

In the 1998 final in Paris, Ronaldo turned in a subdued performance against host France and Brazil lost 3-0. Brazil's underperformance was blamed on the health of Ronaldo. To the shock of just about everyone, Brazil coach Mario Zagallo left his main striker out of his starting lineup, apparently for health reasons. Years later, Ronaldo said he had a seizure earlier in the day.

Whatever happened that night, Ronaldo endured a series of injuries thereafter and was lucky to make the trip to Asia.

Armed with a curious haircut involving a triangular wedge on the front of his head, Ronaldo was the main attraction. But few thought he could recapture the sort of form that made him the world's most feared striker in the run-up to the 1998 World Cup.

He proved all the skeptics wrong.

With eight goals during the 2002 World Cup, including his two precise finishes in the final that finished off Germany, Ronaldo scored more times in a tournament than anyone since West Germany forward Gerd Muller in 1970.

His goals helped Brazil reclaim the crown it lost on that curious night at Stade de France. Brazil, led by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, won an unprecedented fifth World Cup.

Ronaldo was back in the Brazil team that went to Germany in 2006, a World Cup many expected it to win -- not least because the striker was partnered up front by Rivaldo and Kaka. That didn't quite pan out with France winning 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

With another three goals in 2006, he became the World Cup's all-time leading scorer with 15 -- a record since overtaken by Germany striker Miroslav Klose.

No matter, though, because Ronaldo had been well and truly redeemed.

2006: Zinedine Zidane ends his career with a headbutt

There has never been a final act in

There has never been a final act in soccer quite like Zinedine Zidane's headbutt.

The France great had been coaxed out of international retirement by coach Raymond Domenech to help his country's flagging campaign to make it to the 2006 tournament in Germany.

He did exactly that.

Few observers, though, gave the team a chance in the actual competition, especially after a labored group stage. But Les Bleus rediscovered the form that made it the world's best at the turn of the millennium.

After dispatching Spain in the round of 16, France faced Brazil, the team it overwhelmed in the 1998 final. Even so, Brazil was the favorite with its potent attack of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka.

However, France dominated and Thierry Henry's goal following a free kick from Zidane saw France make it to the semifinals, where a penalty from "Zizou" was enough to beat Portugal.

In both matches, Zidane was like a conductor, dazzling with his flicks and vision. He was back to his best at the age of 34 and it looked like he would end his career lifting the World Cup.

But there was always an edge to Zidane, a chance he could self-combust.

The final against Italy started well enough for France, with Zidane putting his team ahead early with a chipped penalty kick that bounced down off the crossbar. But the sheer audacity of that spot kick was perhaps a sign that not everything was right with him.

After defender Marco Materazzi headed the Azzurri level in the 19th minute, the match failed to ignite and was seemingly heading for penalties. With minutes of extra time left, the two scorers were at the center of one of the most unforgettable episodes in World Cup history.

Television cameras missed the incident at first, but then suddenly showed Materazzi lying on the ground. Then, replays showed Zidane racing toward the defender following an exchange of words and felled him with his head -- his last act as a professional player . France held on until the shootout, which Italy won after scoring all five spot kicks.

But it will always be remembered for Zidane's headbutt.

2010: Spain finally ditches its underachiever tag

Spain's reputation as the great underachiever in world
Photo Credit: AP / Martin Meissner

Spain's reputation as the great underachiever in world football was a characteristic it desperately wanted to ditch.

Adopting quick-passing tiki-taka tactics, Spain won the 2008 European Championship. That went a long way to ridding the team of its unwanted tag, but the country really came through two years later at the World Cup in South Africa.

True to historic form, however, Spain lost its first group match against Switzerland. That raised the prospect that a team blessed with some of the world's best players, including goalkeeper Iker Casillas and midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, would not even make it to the knockout stages of a tournament it had entered as a favorite.

Spain then ground out victories over Honduras and Chile to end up winning the group, but the team was hardly sparkling.

In South Africa, Spain failed to deliver the kind of attacking play that had marked its ascent to the top of the world rankings. Grinding out 1-0 victories over Portugal, Paraguay and Germany, Spain was finally in the World Cup final. They would face the Netherlands, which also had a point to prove after losing its previous two finals back in the 1970s.

After a match that was riven with cautions, Spain became the eighth country to win the World Cup -- and they did it with another 1-0 victory. The disappointing final appeared to be headed for a penalty shootout until a goal from Iniesta four minutes from the end of extra time.

In victory , Spain became the first European team to triumph outside its continent. It would go on to defend the European Championship two years later in Poland and Ukraine with a far more attacking approach and turned up in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup expected by many to triumph again. But that proved to be one tournament too many for one of the great teams in history, which incredibly lost 5-1 to the Netherlands in its opening group match.

They couldn't win another title that year, but they were underachievers no more.

2014: Suarez sinks teeth into Italy defender Chiellini

The image of Luis Suarez sitting on the
Photo Credit: AP / Ricardo Mazalan

The image of Luis Suarez sitting on the ground holding his teeth remains one of the most abiding moments of the World Cup in Brazil.

Fresh from scoring two goals to help his team beat England 2-1 in a group match Uruguay needed to win, Suarez was expected to play a prominent role against Italy to spearhead his team's advancement to the round of 16.

He did play a leading role -- only not in the way most had anticipated.

Toward the end of the match, Suarez inexplicably bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder following a tussle in the penalty area. The referee didn't see the incident, which proved costly for the Azzurri because Uruguay soon scored the only goal of the match.

Suarez faced severe retrospective action, however. He was suspended from all football-related activity for four months, slapped with a nine-match international ban and given a big fine.

Suarez wasn't new to biting. This was his third offense on the field following previous incidents for Ajax and Liverpool. Suarez's bad habit didn't put off Barcelona, who weeks later bought the striker from Liverpool for about $130 million.

It was Suarez's second controversial World Cup moment. In the last minute of extra time in a hard-fought 2010 quarterfinal match against Ghana, Suarez was sent off after he used his hands to keep out Dominic Adiyiah's goal-bound header. Asamoah Gyan hit the bar on the ensuing penalty, and Suarez was shown celebrating on the sideline.

Ghana went on to lose the penalty shootout, thereby failing to become Africa's first semifinalist as the continent staged its first World Cup.

2014: Brazil humiliated by Germany at home

Getting what you wish for doesn't always work
Photo Credit: AP / Martin Meissner

Getting what you wish for doesn't always work out well.

Brazil had partly wanted to host the 2014 World Cup to exorcise the ghosts of the past -- specifically, its traumatic 1-0 loss to Uruguay in the final match of the 1950 tournament at home in Rio de Janeiro.

Watched, it is said, by about 200,000 at the Maracana Stadium, that match left an indelible mark on Brazil's psyche, so much so that the team changed the color of its shirt from white to the now-famous yellow. It's been termed The Maracanazo -- roughly speaking, the Maracana Blow.

And despite winning five World Cups after that, the shock of losing that match remained as Brazil readied to host the tournament again in 2014.

To be fair, there was a bit of concern in Brazil that its team was not particularly strong, the attacking prowess of Neymar notwithstanding.

Brazil won its group and scored seven goals in its three group matches. But its performances were unconvincing. Still, Brazil hoped that a wave of emotion could help shore up the team as it went further into the tournament.

The home support helped Brazil overcome Chile in a penalty shootout in the round of 16 and in the narrow 2-1 victory over Colombia in the quarterfinals. That set up a semifinal match against Germany.

It was bad timing for the hosts because Germany really came into form. It was bad luck for Brazil, too, that it was without its best player, Neymar, after he had injured his back in the match against Colombia. Brazil was also without its captain, Thiago Silva, who was suspended.

But no one could have predicted exactly what would happen at the encounter in Belo Horizonte.

When Thomas Mueller put Germany ahead in the 11th minute, there wasn't too much concern -- after all, Germany was widely expected to win. But then two, three, four and five -- 5-0 down within half an hour. The World Cup's greatest champions were being humiliated at home.

It ended 7-1, and one ghost had been replaced by another.

At least Brazil didn't change the color of its shirt this time.


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