Host of Thank Friday It’s Football and Life’s a Pitch on BFM89.9
Being from the slightly “older” age group, my World Cup memories go back as far as Argentina 1978. That was my first “proper” memory of an entire tournament culminating in Mario Kempes scoring against Holland in the final. There have been many memories and I won’t bore you with them all.
Undoubtedly, my most memorable World Cup moment was Germany 2006. I was sent there by my employers to spend the month taking in the matches and phoning back daily reports for Malaysian radio. I managed to take in around eight matches in total, including the final in Berlin. I was in Munich for Germany 2 Sweden 0. That was quite a match. The fans were all so friendly.
However, for me the game of the 2006 World Cup was the QF in Dortmund, when Germany lost to Italy after extra time. Having traveled around Germany and marveled at the stadiums, I can, with my hand on heart, tell you that there was nothing to rival the atmosphere in the Westfallen Stadion in Dortmund. It was definitely the loudest and most colourful of all the stadiums. Even the showpiece Berlin final didn’t come close to Dortmund’s atmosphere.
Unfortunately, I won’t be going to Brazil, but I won’t miss a second of action from the World’s Greatest Show!
National Women’s Football Team (2005) and National Women’s Futsal Team (2009).
For me it would have to be the 1994 Fifa World Cup Final where Brazil and Italy met. At that time both teams had won the World Cup three times and this would have placed one team ahead of the other. The winner of that final would also make either team the first to win it four times.
Whilst I was only nine years old and perhaps knew little of the games leading up to it, I remember creeping out of bed and watching the match through the crack of my bedroom door, which coincidentally faced the TV.
I remember, at the wee hours of the morning, when Roberto Baggio,stepped up to take that all important penalty (my favourite player, during a time when Italy played some decent attacking football) – and then his miss!
And what a miss it was. A miss that cost Italy the World Cup and would go down as the worst moment of his career. I guess in the end what I remember the most about that game was learning what an emotional roller coaster the game of football can be.
My most memorable World Cup moment was Dennis Bergkamp’s goal vs Argentina – 1998.
I was never good at sports. Any sport. The coordination required to play sports was something that completely eluded me. Nowhere was this more apparent than playing football during Physical Education at school. Simple skills such as passing, trapping the ball and shooting might as well have been rocket science. I was that bad.
I remember a lesson where the teacher was trying to teach everyone how to kill a lobbed ball’s movement with your first touch. I couldn’t do it. The entire lesson just involved me chasing after the ball around the field, miscontrolling it over and over again.
Which makes me appreciate the beauty of Dennis Bergkamp’s goal even more. The way he controls the ball with his first touch is unbelievable. He makes it look so effortless! Like it was the easiest thing in the world!
But I can picture the years of sweat, practice and graft that it took to get to the point of being that good. Without the practice, he would be just like I was in PE, chasing miskicked balls around the field.
Author of the Inspector Singh series
1986 World Cup – Brazil v. France
I’ve pictured myself on the pitch for hundreds of games. I’m a brilliant player in my head. Usually, I’m Zico, the best football player in the world – ever!
It seems so real, imagining myself out there in the sunshine with the Brazilians. It is this dark living room, the cane furniture, the whirring fan and being all alone in the middle of the night watching the World Cup on television that seems like a dream. I can’t believe what’s just happened. I pinch myself really hard. Ouch! I’m awake alright. Zico has missed a penalty and now my arm hurts where I pinched it.
I cannot believe it. My hero, Zico, has missed a penalty in a World Cup quarterﬁnal match. A penalty that would have put Brazil in the lead. Probably into the semiﬁnals for a match against the Germans who are rubbish this year.
Zico’s face is up close on the ﬂickering screen. He looks bewildered – maybe he’s wondering if he’s dreaming too. Probably he wishes he was in a living room somewhere watching the game on television. He looks fatter than in the poster I have of him in my bedroom. In my poster he is ﬁt and slim, wearing his socks around his ankles – the ‘I’m too tough for shinpads’ look.
I make excuses for my hero – He’d just come on. He wasn’t warmed up yet. They shouldn’t have let him take the kick. I make excuses for my hero – but I know that Brazil is in deep trouble.
This is a modified excerpt from Shamini‘s book Ten about growing up and football.
Host of That Effing Show
One of my most memorable World Cup moments would probably be Italia 1990. It was my first World Cup; at least one in which I could actually remember. I was about to turn seven years old and even then, people were still talking about that brilliant solo run against England.
The controversial Hand of God goal notwithstanding, Maradona had left his mark on world football in Mexico four years earlier. At a time when you couldn’t refer to replays on 24-hour sports channels, I was reliant on anecdotes, descriptions and retellings by my uncles and relatives. By the time they were done, the myth became bigger than the man himself.
The San Siro was the perfect stage for the start of Argentina’s World Cup campaign. I was ready to be spellbound by some of that magic dust. The time difference from Milan and PJ meant it was past my bedtime, but the parents made an exception. The previous generation had seen glimpses of Pelé; this was my turn to see a footballing genius in action.
The whistle blew and right from kick off, the game was exceptionally poor, boring and dull. And after 90 minutes, the result didn’t quite turn out quite as expected either. Defending champions Argentina was subjected to a shock 1-0 defeat by Cameroon.
Maradona was nowhere to be found. He was invisible, unimaginative and mediocre; more human and less of a god. Terms like ‘the underdog’ and ‘sporting upset’ would immediately become part of my vocabulary. I would forever appreciate and understand that once in a while, there in fact is an off position to the genius switch.