As we approach the final countdown to 2018’s World Cup, we look at some of our favourite memories from the tournament over the years.
1. They think it’s all over – England v Germany, Final 1966
How could we not start with this one? 1966 saw England’s Geoff Hurst complete his hat-trick against West Germany in the final moments of the World Cup at Wembley to secure the win for England.
He made history as the first man to ever score a hat-trick in the World Cup final, and no one has done it since. His final goal prompted BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme to utter his famous line:
People are on the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is now!
From conga lines between pubs and hugging complete strangers on the street, the atmosphere was electric and it was 24 hours that we’ll never forget.
2. The ‘game of the century’ – Italy v West Germany, Semi-final 1970
Some games are simply admired for their sporting drama, and this was one of them.
The five goals scored in extra-time remains the World Cup record and the game was honoured by a plaque on the wall of the Estadio Azteca, thanking the two nations for their efforts and proclaiming it “The Game of the Century.”
3. The feet of God – England v Argentina, Quarter-final 1986
Though this game is remembered for Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, the goal that followed is still considered by a lot of people to be the greatest goal ever scored.
Picking the ball up in his own half, Maradona beat every player that stood in his way before slotting it past the helpless Peter Shilton. Simply brilliant.
4. Bobby Moore and Pele exchange shirts – England v Brazil, Group Stage 1970
The image that has gone down in history was not anything to do with the game (which itself was brilliant) but was the image of the handshake that followed the match.
Pele and Booby Moore, stripped to the waist in the 98° heat of Guadalajara, and exchanged shirts.
The photograph went into World Cup history, embodying the spirit of fair play and respect between two of the greatest players ever to grace the tournament.
5. The birth of ‘the beautiful game’ – Brazil v Italy, Final 1970
Few would dispute the fact that this Brazil team was the best set of players ever to grace a World Cup final.
The game, and the goal, that launched a thousand clichés.
If it hadn’t been for this game, perhaps we wouldn’t talk and read about “The Beautiful Game” and “Samba Football” and “Just like watching Brazil”.
For 40 years it was voted the most beautiful and perfect expression of football seen at the World Cup.
6. Gordon Banks’ ‘save of the century’ from Pelé – England v Brazil, Group Stage 1970
In the group stages of the 1970 World Cup, England played eventual winners Brazil in a match which saw keeper Gordon Banks pull off a save from Pelé.
The Brazilian legend’s downward header appeared destined for the back of the net until Banks, diving away to his right, produced a save of miraculous proportions.
No save has ever been as celebrated in England’s football history, and Banks’ dive is regularly referred to as the ‘save of the century’.
7. Lineker’s look – West Germany v England, Semi-final 1990
Gary Lineker is the only Englishman to win the Golden Boot, but he is asked most about the moment when Paul Gascoigne fouled Thomas Berthold and collected the booking that would have ruled him out of the 1990 World Cup final.
Lineker was famously captured on camera gesturing to Bobby Robson, saying: “Keep an eye on him.”