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W/Cup Memories: Branco’s Brazil, bald English success and an Italian dream

What does the FIFA World Cup mean to you?

Photo: Former Holland legends Marco Van Basten (right) and Ruud Gullit attack in tandem.
Photo: Former Holland legends Marco Van Basten (right) and Ruud Gullit attack in tandem.

Wired868 asked some of our more illustrious football readers to share their memories of the greatest single sporting event on the planet. And we would like you to do the same.

There are three basic questions and, each week, we will take one answer from a different interviewee. So let’s kick off week seven:

My most vivid memory

The St Lucia-born Stuart Charles-Fevrier has, in tandem with owner David John Williams, made W Connection the most successful team in Trinidad and Tobago’s professional era. And, as a player, Fevrier was one of the most accomplished defenders to ever play in this country.

Photo: W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier.
Photo: W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier.

But were his free kicks any good?

Fevrier’s most vivid World Cup memory came in the 1994 World Cup when Brazil left back, Branco, prepared to make his traditional Curtly Ambrose-styled run up for a free kick:

My most memorable World Cup moment was in the 1994 quarter final match between Brazil and the Netherlands when Branco scored a free kick from 30 yards out. That goal gave Brazil a 3-2 win and they went defeat Sweden in the semi-final and then Italy via the penalty spot in the final.

In the quarter final, Brazil had led the game 2-0 and Netherlands fought back and equalised 2-2 from a corner kick in the 76th minute. The game was very tense at that point when Brazil was awarded a free kick in the 81st minute for a foul on Branco and Branco himself stepped up to take it. I remember he unleashed that shot with the outside of his left foot that bent just inside of the left post to put Brazil ahead 3-2; and I was elated. (View a clip of Branco’s free kick HERE)

Photo: Brazil legend Romario (centre) kisses the 1994 World Cup trophy while Branco (left) and captain Dunga look on. (Copyright AFP 2014/Timothy A Clary)
Photo: Brazil legend Romario (centre) kisses the 1994 World Cup trophy while Branco (left) and captain Dunga look on.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Timothy A Clary)

As an avid Brazilian fan, the tension I felt after Netherland’s equaliser… But then Branco took over. That goal will forever be etched in my memory as I think it was the goal that led Brazil to its first World Cup trophy in 24 years.

My favourite World Cup team

England-born Central FC marketing manager Kevin Harrison is in his third year as a Trinidad and Tobago Pro League administrator he seems to have put down roots on the two island republic.

When it comes to his favourite team, though, home is where the heart is:

I know I will be beaten senseless for saying this, but I grew up on the legend of 1966. Although I have no recollection of seeing most of the players actually play, us kids were fed an unending diet of reruns of the 66 final.

So, in my heart, I’ll always admire that England team. And there were decent players.

Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst (who was the second choice striker behind the great Jimmy Greaves), Bobby and Jackie Charlton, Nobby Stiles… I think that England team was the most follicular challenged team to win a world cup. In fact I often wondered if Zinedine Zidane was English!

Photo: England captain Bobby Moore (centre) and his teammates celebrate with the 1966 World Cup trophy. (Courtesy the FA)
Photo: England captain Bobby Moore (centre) and his teammates celebrate with the 1966 World Cup trophy.
(Courtesy the FA)

So my favourite World Cup team is the English 1966 World Cup winning team. I guess because it was a time when I grew up believing that England should be and could be the best in the world.

Sadly, those beliefs have been dashed on numerous football fields around the world in my lifetime; so I wistfully look back on those halcyon days of Wembley ‘66.

My all-time World Cup XI

Like Harrison, Stefano Monti is a Trinidad and Tobago resident with European birth papers. Monti is a DIRECTV W Connection employee and owns the Bacco Pizzeria Italian restaurant in San Fernando.

Photo: W Connection technical staff member Stefano Monti (right) and player Silvio Spann.
Photo: W Connection technical staff member Stefano Monti (right) and player Silvio Spann.

Coincidentally, his favourite World Cup XI all seemed to have been played in Italy at some point. And there was one notable omission:

Thomas N’Kono (Goalkeeper/Cameroon)

He was a very spectacular goalkeeper, sometimes maybe too much so. He was very skillful and was the first and probably the only keeper from Africa that really gave me an emotional jolt.

(Italy’s current number one, Gianluigi Buffon, was a defensive midfielder until he saw N’Kono at the 1990 World Cup and was so moved that he decided to be a goalkeeper instead. Buffon named his first son Louis Thomas.)

Claudio Gentile (Right back/Italy)

He was the terror of strikers and had a fantastic career between Juventus and the Italy national team. He used to cancel from the field players like Diego Maradona and Zico.

Photo: Italian hardman Claudio Gentile (right) stays close to Argentina star Diego Maradona during the 1982 World Cup.
Photo: Italian hardman Claudio Gentile (right) stays close to Argentina star Diego Maradona during the 1982 World Cup.

Daniel Passarella (Defender/Argentina)

He was pure class; effective in defense and unstoppable when he was attacking. He was excellent at free kicks too.

Giorgio Chiellini (Defender/Italy)

He is probably not the most refined footballer in the world. But he is the best central defender for me.

Roberto Carlos (Left back/Brazil)

He had the speed, pace and technique of a monster.

Javier Zanetti (Midfield/Argentina)

He was one of the few players in the world that could play anywhere on the field.

Andrea Pirlo (Midfield/Italy)

Photo: Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo (left) battles with Spain star Xavi.
Photo: Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo (left) battles with Spain star Xavi.

He is the brain of the football, the master manipulator of the ball and his free kicks defy the force of gravity. (Click HERE for a brilliant highlight reel of Italian architect Andrea Pirlo)

Roberto Donadoni (Right midfield/Italy)

He was unbeatable in one-v-one situations.

Pavel Nedved (Left midfield/Czech Republic)

He was the best in an inside left midfield position and had a fantastic shot.

Diego Maradona (Forward/Argentina)

Photo: Argentina legend Diego Maradona (left) keeps the ball from Italy defender Guiseppe Bergomi during the 1990 World Cup. (Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)
Photo: Argentina legend Diego Maradona (left) keeps the ball from Italy defender Guiseppe Bergomi during the 1990 World Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)

Do I have to explain why? He is the football.

Marco Van Basten (Striker/Netherlands)

He was a big and unfortunate player; very skilful, a greater header of the ball and the scorer.

 

World Cup Quotes of the Day 

That is the fascinating thing about these players – they need a calm, patient feel to the game, or they can be completely overrun. The difference between the almost-great players of this mould (Carrick, Riccardo Montolivo, Néstor Ortigoza) and Xavi, Pirlo and Scholes is that the former are forced to accept it is not their type of game, while the latter can actively create that type of game. That is extremely difficult against sides wanting to be powerful, energetic and chaotic – it is easier to hijack a meditation session and turn it into a rave than vice versa.

That fits the image of these players off the pitch – not quite meditation fans, but quiet and extremely shy.

“I restrict myself to the dressing room and to the pitch, those are my boundaries – I’m not interested in anything else, I don’t like doing interviews, I don’t like going on TV programmes, I don’t have a Facebook page and I don’t talk on Twitter.”

It is Pirlo talking, in an interview for La Stampa, but it could so easily be Scholes. Xavi, on the other hand, is content to spend his spare time picking mushrooms.

UK Guardian writer Michael Cox on the deep lying midfielder

Photo: Spain playmaker Xavi (left) dances away from Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo. (Copyright AFP 2014/Patrick Hertzog)
Photo: Spain playmaker Xavi (left) dances away from Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Patrick Hertzog)

When I was director of football at Real Madrid I had to evaluate the players coming through the youth ranks. We had some who were very good footballers. They had technique, they had athleticism, they had drive, they were hungry.

But they lacked what I call knowing-how-to-play-football. They lacked decision-making. They lacked positioning. They didn’t have that subtle sensitivity of football: how a player should move within the collective.

You see, strength, passion, technique, athleticism, all of these are very important. But they are a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Arrigo Sacchi, former AC Milan and Italy coach

 

Editor’s Note: Scroll down and tell us your favourite football memories.

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One comment

  1. Lasana Liburd

    One of my favourite World Cup memories… Watching Colombia’s Carlos Valderrama stroll around the field in 1990 with his amazing, bright afro hairstyle. Plenty for me to envy, eh?
    His ability to find teammates and piece opposing defences with his passes amazed me at the time, particularly as opponents certainly could not lose sight of him. They just couldn’t stop him!