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.
As we enter the final World Cup week of the summer, Bart Esposito, Sirplay CEO, takes to The World Cup’s Finest hot seat and discusses “Pele of the 30s,” a favourite team dilemma and the footballing spirit that united a nation in 1990.
First World Cup:
Jose Leandro Andrade. The first “Pelè” of the ’30s. He was an eclectic football player making news also outside the football field. There are few frames and a lot of urban legends about his character. They say he learned to dribble chasing hens, or all the many rumours on his bohemian life in Paris and his love story with the cabaret singer and dancer, Josephine Baker. Jose Leandro Andrade was a rock star before rock stars came, he was like Pelè and Maradona before Pelè and Maradona came, an innovator before the innovation.
Holland, 1974 & France, 1998. The first one with the best story of a defeat of all time, with the best titular member number 11, ever. The second one is the first Champion football team daughter of globalisation, led by an Algerian with icy eyes named Zinedine Zidane, who has changed the way we perceive football.
James Rodríguez (Colombia v Uruguay, 2014). It would be too easy to mention Maradona’s goal versus England here, but of that, I’ll talk in my favourite Football World Cup game. The goal of “El Dies” is so boyish that seems to come out of a fairytale. A harmless ball played by his teammates, he turns around and without even let the ball touch ground, pulls it in the intersection of the goalposts. There are many with technique and athletic prowess, but this one expresses fantasy, craziness and genius all in one movement.
Argentina v England, 1986. This is the story of a standard game becoming special thanks to the God of Football. In a single game, one man has accomplished to score two of the most important goals in the history of sports. He made it by hoaxing Peter Shilton with his hand before and dribbling past the whole England team in eleven touches, later. If this is not the greatest football game than great games don’t exist.
Mexico, 1978. I guess I don’t have “The” favourite kit. If I should think about my favourite historical one, I really loved the one of Mexico in 1978. It was the first to be signed by Levi’s for a World Cup, and it was really so fashionable for the times, it’s still cool also nowadays. Even if I have to say that this year, Japan and Nigeria had two beautiful kits really reflecting the identity of their teams.
First World Cup memory:
8 June – 8 July (World Cup, Italy). The first Football World Cup I assisted was in 1986, but the most vivid memory I have is from 1990. That year is still impressed in all Italians’ memory. It took place in Rome and it seemed like all Italy got united together in one soul to watch and truly feel the World Cup spirit. It was a massive event engaging every aspect in people’s life. I remember the emotion in only watching the games with friends, it was like all of us were playing and not just the 11 on the field. And of course, the fact Italy’s defeat broke all our hearts, I can still remember we were all almost crying. I think that is what the Football World Cup should be, a reason to unify nations.
The World Cup’s Finest is to be a regular feature during the Russia World Cup, profiling a different individual each week day, if you would like to be involved please email [email protected].