World Cup's Craziest Moments: Trail Blazers and Broken Teeth

Categories: World Cup 2014

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Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. Read the others here.

Cameroon Makes It to the Quarters, 1990

Teams outside the strongholds of South America and Europe had featured in the World Cup before. There had been upsets; North Korea beat Italy in '66, Algeria overcame West Germany in '82, and of course the United States' greatest World Cup moment came in 1950, when it famously beat England 1-0. However, Cameroon's run in 1990 is particularly memorable and has ushered in a new era where African sides are to be feared rather than humored.

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World Cup's Craziest Moments: Beauty and Brawls

Categories: World Cup 2014

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Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the sixth installment. Read the others here.

The Battle of Santiago, Chile versus Italy, First Round 1962

The so called "Battle of Santiago" in the '62 tournament was, according to one sports announcer at the time, "the most stupid, appalling, disgusting, and disgraceful exhibition of football possibly in the history of the game." Watching it now, it often resembles football of the gridiron kind, rather than the supposedly "beautiful" form the rest of the world enjoys. This was less a football match, more a diplomatic incident.

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World Cup's Craziest Moments: Gascoigne Blubs, England Hugs

Categories: World Cup 2014

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Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the fifth installment. Read the others here.

England versus West Germany, Semifinal 1990

Since winning the World Cup on home soil in 1966, there had been little for English fans to cheer about in international competition. To make matters worse, in the 1980s, the plague of hooliganism had gotten English clubs banned from all European competition. In 1990, barely 20,000 had turned up to see the team play its last home warm-up game against Czechoslovakia before the World Cup in Italy. The moronic tabloid press labeled the team "donkeys" and had been calling for the head of manager Bobby Robson since the team's first-round exit from the European Championships in 1988.

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World Cup's Craziest Moments: The Miracle of Bern

Categories: World Cup 2014

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Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the fourth installment. Read the others here.

West Germany versus Hungary, Final 1954

It is difficult to believe now, but in the 1950s, Hungary possessed one of the greatest teams the world had ever seen. The so-called "Magical Magyars" were undefeated for 30 games between 1950 and the start of the '54 World Cup, they won Olympic gold in '52 and had technically and tactically outclassed the inventors of the game, England, 6-3 and 7-1 in 1953. In Ferenc Puskas, they had perhaps the greatest European player of the era.

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World Cup's Craziest Moments: Italy and Netherlands Overcome

Categories: World Cup 2014

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Photo by El Gráfico via Wikipedia Commons
Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the third installment. Read the first one here and the second here.

Italy versus West Germany, Final, 1982

Italy is a team that seems to thrive on low expectations. Italians' hopes of the Azzurri achieving a third World Cup, their first since fascism ruled the country, were at a nadir as the 1982 World Cup began in Spain. They had managed only fourth place in the European Championships, held on home turf two years earlier. Moreover, a recent scandal in the Italian league had seen stars such as Paolo Rossi prosecuted and suspended for match fixing and illegal betting. That they just squeaked through the first round in '82 drew further criticism from the media, to whom the Italian players now refused to speak.

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World Cup's Craziest Moments: Brazil Crushes the Soviets

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Photo by Nationalencyklopedin via Wikipedia Commons
Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the second installment. Read the first one here.

On the eve of the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden, the Brazilian team's psychologist, Dr. Joao Carvalhaes advised the Brazilian head coach Vicente Feola that two players should not go. The 17 year old Pele, and the comparably seasoned Garrincha. For Dr. Carvalhaes, Pele was "too infantile", lacking the necessary fighting spirit. Garrincha, who had proved to be a loose cannon on and off the pitch in recent times, was not seen as responsible enough. Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano explains, "[Garrincha] was the one who would climb out of the training camp window because he heard from some far-off back alley call of a ball asking to be played with, music demanding to be danced to, a woman wanting to be kissed."

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World Cup Starts Today: A Brit Talks Hand of God

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Will the Hand of God Return?

Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the first installment.

Almost a century ago, during the first Christmas of the bloodbath that was World War I, war weary German and British soldiers climbed hesitantly out of their trenches and stumbled into no man's land. They shook hands, sang carols, lit each other's cigarettes, and, using helmets for goal posts and a bully beef can as a ball, they played a game of soccer. Briefly, the international language of the beautiful game trumped the violence of the battlefield. The next day they returned to their positions in the trenches, and resumed the mass slaughter of the Great War.

Starting today the world comes together to play soccer again, thankfully not on the battlefields of the Western Front, but in the spiritual home of football, Brazil. Yes, the greatest competition of the world's greatest sport is here - the World Cup.
203 nations attempted qualification; more countries than there are in the United Nations. Now, 32 from all corners of the globe converge to contest the finals, from the "Indomitable Lions" of Cameroon and the ""Samurai Blue"" of Japan, to the traditional power houses of Europe and South America.

See also: Ten Fútbol Songs to Get You Pumped for the 2014 FIFA World Cup


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