What does the FIFA World Cup mean to you?
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 eight:
My most vivid memory
Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart is reshaping the future of “Soca Warriors” as we speak and he got off to quite a start with a quarterfinal finish at the CONCACAF 2013 Gold Cup.
When it comes to World Cup football, Hart has a long memory though. Over 40 years long to be exact:
The Brazil 1970 team was, hands down, one of the most balanced teams, playing beautiful fluent football with a variety of goal scorers.
So many vivid memories come to mind from that team; most of them from individual performances.
Seeing Pelé for the first time in colour and he was magnificent. He was so good, he made a missed goal one of the most famous of all time.
Against Uruguay, a through ball was played to him and he ran on to it with the keeper advancing; instead of taking a touch he ran over the ball and completely eliminated and rounded the keeper. He then picked up the ball and angled it far post; but he missed. It was amazing invention and quick thinking. (Click HERE to view the footage yourself).
The other memory that stands out for me was the fourth goal versus Italy in the final.
I can’t remember how many passes, but in the build-up Clodoaldo beat about three players with the last beat pure embarrassment. He then played the ball down the left and it was transferred to Pelé who calmly turned and rolled it into the path of an overlapping Carlos Alberto and the right back finished with the outside of the foot. (Click HERE to see Carlos Alberto’s brilliant goal).
What a punctuation mark on a final and a fitting finale.
My favourite World Cup team
Dexter Skeene also has a huge responsibility to the local game as the Pro League CEO. But that might be where the similarities end with the national coach as Skeene is not quite as fond of samba.
The former “Strike Squad” forward likes his football with more tactical cunning and he has a special fondness for the team that made purists cry with a shock win over Brazil en route to the 1982 World Cup crown:
My favourite world cup team is Italy’s 1982 winning squad of Dino Zoff, Gaetano Scirea, Claudio Gentile, Fulvio Collovati, Antonio Cabrini, Giancarlo Antognoni, Gabriele Oriali, Marco Tardelli, Bruno Conti, Francesco Graziani and the great Paolo Rossi.
To me, the showdown with Brazil was a battle of wits. The Italian coach, Enzo Bearzot, the master tactician, revealed the flaws of Tele Santana’s mesmerizing Brazilians while showcasing the balance of tactical genius, discipline and creativity of the Italians.
The following paragraph written in the UK Guardian after the match explains why this is my favourite World Cup team:
Brazilian great Zico was quoted as saying that the day Italy beat Brazil was the day that football died.
To me, the British reporter put it succinctly: “It was a game, moreover, that lay on a fault-line of history. It may not have been the day that football died, but it was the day that a certain naivety in football died; it was the day after which it was no longer possible simply to pick the best players and allow them to get on with it; it was the day that the system won.
“There was still a place for great individual attacking talents, but they had to be incorporated into something knowing, had to be protected and covered for. In truth, that had already been apparent; even the free-flowing style of 1970 might not have worked anywhere other than Mexico, where the heat and the altitude made hard pressing impossible.”
Zico’s words haven’t gone down too well with some members of the Azzurri squad, starting with Collovati.
“Italy-Brazil was an extraordinary game and we also had a good Giancarlo Antognoni goal disallowed,” said Collovati. “Zico’s words are out of place and Gentile’s man-marking on him was in line with the rules at the time. Brazil lost because they faced us with presumption.”
My all-time World Cup XI
Trinidad and Tobago international goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams took time off from his Pro League title chase with Central FC to select his favourite World Cup players off all time.
So did he satisfy his national coach or Pro League boss?
One gets the feeling that Williams did not even try. There is more than a touch of the unconventional in the top XI of one of CONCACAF’s best goalkeepers:
Shaka Hislop (Goalkeeper/Trinidad and Tobago)
Not because he is a Trinbagonian. But because his display against Sweden and England in the 2006 World Cup is the best goalkeeping display I’ve seen bar none!
A true professional who was once asked to represent England if I’m not mistaken.
Phillip Lahm (Right back/Germany)
A good athlete who can play both left and right back. He can defend, which is most important in this position, and has great ability going forward.
Franco Baresi (Centre back/Italy)
The general! Calm, composed but ruthless when necessary. Another Italian legend.
Lucio (Centre back/Brazil)
Has shown the world the true meaning of passion. He always played from his heart. A tough tackler who had the priceless ability to make dangerous attacking runs from the centre back position.
Paolo Maldini (Left back/Italy)
Can play any position in defence. He was highly consistent and a great leader. The world’s best in my humble opinion
Genarro Gattuso (Midfield/Italy)
A beast. A warlord. The pitbull! He wasn’t great at going forward but could single handedly break up any attack. He was the best ball winner the World Cup has seen. His passion for the game was his strength but at times his weakness as well.
David Beckham (Right midfield/England)
A great professional. He was a hard worker and a perfect example of a traditional right midfielder. The best, I think, at crossing the ball.
Zinedine Zidane (Midfield/France)
I am yet to see anyone control the middle of a football field like him. Just as I am yet to see someone not mention him in any world’s greatest player conversation.
Ronaldinho (Left midfield/Brazil)
For me, he is the best player I’ve seen to this day. He knows how to make the game beautiful with a unique blend of skill, flair and efficiency; all with a smile on his face.
Diego Forlan (Forward/Uruguay)
The Golden Ball winner at World Cup 2010 and his heroics helped his team to the semifinal. He has a fierce shot with both feet and the belief that he could score from anywhere. That’s what makes him so dangerous.
Roberto Baggio (Forward/Italy)
Sigh! “El Ponytale” may have been a household name if he had scored that penalty versus Brazil in the 1994 World Cup final. But… that’s life. The former World and European Player of the Year was almost unstoppable in his time. Only a troublesome hamstring and a few inches could manage to do that. (And, as a special treat, click HERE for special footage of Roberto Baggio that even Jan-Michael Williams might have missed)!
World Cup Quotes of the Day
1960 Boys’ Book of Soccer:
Every great footballer is both born and made. A man may be born a genius but he still will not be a good footballer unless his game is developed. On the other hand, all the training in the world will not make a wizard out of a man who has not got it in him.
Jamie Carragher, former England and Liverpool defender:
People forget where you’ve had to come from to get there. A lot of players who were as good as us have fallen by the wayside and are playing in the lower leagues. People always say lower league players want it more than us, but it’s the exact opposite.
A lot of those players are down there because they didn’t make the sacrifices we made when we were 17 or 18, maybe not going out, seeing girls, putting in work on the training pitch. I wish people could see it from that point of view.
Editor’s Note: So what do you think of this week’s trip down Memory Lane? Scroll down and leave your thoughts and read the opinions of other local football stand-outs in our World Cup section.