In The World Cup’s Finest we ask various individuals to delve into their own personal history of football’s quadrennial showpiece extravaganza, selecting a number of favourites as well as revealing what is their very first World Cup memory.
Today Anthony Gray, Head of Football at Redzonesports.bet, tells us about priding his own abilities on Walter Zenga and a duo of Brazilian highlights, as well as recalling when a young Michael Owen unveiled his talents on the world stage.
Favourite World Cup:
Walter Zenga. By the time of the 1990 World Cup I fancied myself as a goalkeeper (incredibly I still do) and Walter Zenga was unbeaten in Italy’s first five games of the tournament. It was an enormous anti-climax when Zenga conceded in the semi-final, I was starting to consider him unbeatable.
Michael Owen (England v Argentina, 1998). I was working in a pet food factory in Wigan during the game and heard the goal on the radio rather than saw it, but Micheal Owen’s goal v Argentina immediately came to mind when I saw this question. It was exciting because England had taken the lead against a formidable opposition and looked well set to go deep into the tournament with a talented team, it’s also a simply fantastic goal.
France v Brazil, 1986 (quarter-final). This game was so good that it was shown re-live on TV (in the days of 4 terrestrial channels) the following Christmas. This game was generally considered the game of the tournament plus it gave me one of my first experiences of a penalty shoot-out.
England, 1990. In 1990 England went to extra-time three times which was important to a school-kid with the threat of bedtime after football hanging over him. At that point I was free from doubt, regret and opinion as an England fan, so was able to enjoy the performances of the players that I assumed were the best men for the job.
Bulgaria, 1994. It lent itself nicely to the Adidas template of the time, which I was a big fan of. The same company were responsible for my favourite goalkeeping kit, the 1990 Black and Pink squared top, worn by Rene Higuita amongst others.
First World Cup memory
1 June 1986 (Brazil v Spain). The first game I remember watching in the World Cup was Brazil 1 Spain 0 early in the 1986 tournament, with Socrates scoring the only goal. From memory it was a controversial winner, I’d have been eager for Brazil to live up to their reputation, so wouldn’t have cared one bit.
The World Cup’s Finest is to be a regular feature during the Russia World Cup, profiling a different individual each week day.