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.
For the final entry in our summer series we have looked internally, with our Managing Director Andrew McCarron the final entrant in The World Cup’s Finest, read on to hear about a star spangled kit, an Argentine maestro and which home nation caught the eye in 1986.
First World Cup memory
11 June 1986 (England v Poland). While I was aware of the World Cup through marketing efforts (toys of the mascot Pique in Kinder Eggs & sticker albums) the first match I recall was the group stage game between England and Poland – which I think was a must win match for England. It was a big deal because the Welsh caravan park we were staying at pulled down the big screen so everyone could watch. I just have this image of Gary Lineker latching onto a cross, scoring and reeling away with his bandaged wrist up in the air. It was also the first time I encountered the phrase hat-trick.
Favourite World Cup:
Diego Maradona (1982, 1986,1990, 1994). I guess I’m talking about the 1986 version of Diego, who powered Argentina to the trophy with such mesmerising dribbling skill. I’ll also never comprehend how he managed to out jump Peter Shilton for the second goal against England, even if he did use his hands. Shilton was seven inches taller.
He also provided us with one of the enduring images of the 1994 World Cup when he screamed into the camera after scoring against Greece. It wasn’t a huge shock after that when he got sent home for failing a drugs test.
Robin van Persie (Holland v Spain). Just a whole host to choose from here; Platt’s last minute over the shoulder volley in 1990, Zidane’s 2006 final Panneka penalty, Boyd’s OG against Brazil in 1998. But van Persie’s header changed the course of the match and arguably the tournament as Holland beat the holders 5-1.
Northern Ireland, 1986. 1986 was my first sticker album and also the first time I became aware of Northern Ireland – I just assumed they were usually at the World Cup. It helped that they had Man United’s Norman Whiteside playing for them. They unsurprisingly failed to get out of a group containing Spain and Brazil. But that shiny Northern Ireland badge sticker still lingers in my mind.
Italy v France, 2006. While it ended on penalties, this was a multi-layered match containing all number of plot points. Zidane, in his last game before retirement, showing that he could keep his head in the most tense of situations with a panenka penalty, before showing the exact opposite with his weird attack on Marco Matterazzi. Even the violence had a strange Zidane signature which is instantly recognisable over a decade later.
USA, 1994. I am rather partial to Scotland’s 1998 kit but the home nation’s shirt in 1994 was so out there yet so American. It caught the start of the trend when football kits were starting to become both mainstream and a bit more experimental. Eric Wynalda scored a cracking free kick in it in the opening match too.