Viva Football: The Greatest Moments in World Cup History
One of the greatest events in the world of sports is the FIFA World Cup, which takes place every four years and celebrates the greatest athletes playing soccer today.
This year, the 21st FIFA World Cup, which is being hosted by Russia, has not been without controversial moments, most of which stem from the fact that host country Russia has a dubious human rights record, as well as a history of doping in national sports. Many people were upset when Russia was announced as the host country in 2014, and several other nations set up corruption investigations to make sure that there was no foul play involved.
Although this bureaucratic tussling has taken up a lot of newspaper ink, it pales in comparison to the powerful moments that have happened on the pitch during the tournament in the past. Here are some of the greatest moments in World Cup history.
Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal – 1986
Even if you’re not a football fan, chances are you’ve heard of this famous goal since it was probably the most famous event in football history. It occurred during a quarter-final game between Argentina and England, who were already locked into an intense rivalry because of the recent Falklands War between the two countries.
During the early second half of the game, Diego Maradona, Argentina’s star player, caught up to the ball just as goalkeeper Peter Shilton was about to punch it clear, and Maradona used his hand to knock the ball into the net. The referee didn’t see Maradona use his hand, so he allowed the goal. Maradona protested his innocence later, saying the goal was “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”
The goal of the century – 1986
In that same game, Maradona cemented his status as one of the legends of professional football when he scored what is now referred to as the “goal of the century.”
Just four minutes after his “Hand of God” goal, he found himself with the ball 60 yards away from the English net and managed to outrun and outmaneuver four English players before feinting to drive goalkeeper Shilton down to the ground, allowing him a clear shot which he took to make it 2-1 Argentina. Although the goal is spectacular on its own, the passionate and emotional commentary of Uruguayan journalist Victor Hugo Morales makes it even better.
Pele’s first hat trick – 1958
Brazil is full of legendary players, but Pelé, who was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is widely considered the greatest player of all time.
He started playing for the Brazilian national team when he was only 16 years old and played in his first World Cup in 1958 when he was just 17. Even though he had a knee injury, his teammates insisted that he play, and in a semi-final game against France, he scored an unbelievable three goals in a row. He passed out on the field as soon as the whistle blew, and woke to the news that they had won, leading to a flood of tears.