ShortList sits down with a squad of legends to recall their part in the greatest show on Earth and find out…
Sir Bobby Charlton
Scored England’s first goal (and two in the semi) on the way to lifting the trophy
“When I was a little boy, never in my wildest dreams did I think I might even play for my country, so to then play for England against competition of the highest quality and come out on the winning team – it was magic.
I did my duty. Everyone on the team knew who they were supposed to mark and was given a little more freedom than we would’ve given them, maybe. But we were a team, that was the main thing. No one ever forgot that message – we were a team.
Between games we’d do nothing else but talk about it. But the team knew that they were good, we had a good coach and we were just right for it. It was the highlight of my football career, winning the World Cup, and I think about it every day. I’m so pleased that we won it, but I do wish sometimes that someone would take the burden off us. It hasn’t happened yet, but who knows – maybe one day.”
Sir Bobby Charlton is a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, supporting the work of the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation; laureus.com
Striker-turned-coach who led a hyped Scotland side that came up short
“Going into ’78 there was a little bit of the unknown. Many of the squad played their football in England, so we didn’t know about what was going on back in Scotland. It filtered through that the manager said we had a great chance of winning this, and the hype eventually hit us. It was a bit optimistic, to say the least.
But just like ’74, we failed to qualify for the knockout stages on goal difference, and we got kicked in the backside by losing the first game. Really, you want to at least get off to a point in your first game at a World Cup.
Archie Gemmill’s goal against the Netherlands was marvellous and I had a very good view of it, but my thoughts of the game were a wee bit deeper than that. We had to beat them by three clear goals, and though we won the game and could’ve won by three, Johnny Rep hit one from 30 yards and killed it. Even though we beat a team that’d appeared in two World Cup finals, it wasn’t quite enough.”
Jordan is first-team coach at Queens Park Rangers; qpr.co.uk
Senior Northern Ireland keeper who halted a Spanish Armada
“I joined the Northern Ireland team in 1964. By 1982 I was starting to think that playing in a World Cup was never going to happen, but somehow we managed to qualify. Nobody fancied us, I think we were 150-1 outsiders to get out of the group. My one regret for George Best was that he never made a World Cup. Even if he had come on for 45 minutes I think he could’ve done a job for us, but I guess we’ll never know.
Going into the final group game, we didn’t think we had any chance against Spain. I think we even had our bags packed ready to go home, but we won 1-0. It was the greatest night I’d ever had in international football, and one of those nights where none of us wanted to leave the pitch. Being down to 10 men, coming out and beating the host nation, we were making the most of it. Losing against France in the second group stage cost us a place in the semis, but just the fact we’d got so far was absolutely fantastic.”
Jennings is an ambassador of the Willow Foundation, established by Bob Wilson; willowfoundation.org.uk
Scotland’s midfielder scored two and won a famous fan
“I’ll always remember the moment Zico walked over to me as the final whistle blew at the end of our group game against Brazil. We’d annoyed them by scoring first and they had beaten us 4-1, but with the game over, everyone wanted his shirt. Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness, even Kenny Dalglish tried to swap with him but he pushed them away and started walking towards me.
I honestly thought there must have been someone else behind me. But Zico held his shirt out and said, ‘Swap?’
‘You can have whatever you want,’ I said. Just to see Hansen and Dalglish’s faces in the dressing room afterwards, well, I’ll never forget that.”
Young Italian defender who thwarted Maradona and Milla
“When things are difficult we find an inner strength. If, as happened to us and also to Lippi’s 2006 team, you have a coach on your side it is all easier. Enzo Bearzot wasn’t only a great manager, but also a brilliant man. You could talk to him about anything: politics, culture, current affairs. Lots of people say the victory against Brazil was the turning point, but the key was Argentina. Beating Maradona and all that he represented gave us the awareness we could beat anyone. It’s incredible to say but the toughest opponent was Roger Milla of Cameroon, then 30. He was clever, strong and cunning.
I can still see President Sandro Pertini in the stand making the ‘three’ symbol with his hand. People still stop me in the street to thank me and sometimes young people who couldn’t have been around at that time do too, because they have seen us on TV or on the internet. Every time it makes me proud because I represented my country and brought honour and joy in a difficult moment.”
England’s most capped player lost out to an Argentine fist
“In Mexico, I think the one thing we didn’t expect was the stadium for the first couple of games [Estadio Tecnológico in Monterrey]. It only had three sides, the dressing rooms were behind one of the goals and you had to come out and walk down some steps on to the pitch.
I think that was one of the reasons we started the tournament very slowly – we were beaten by Portugal and then we drew with Morocco. We’d prepared so well, then hit the stadium and thought, ‘Is this the World Cup?’
Against Argentina we weren’t playing what we thought to be great side, but we were aware that Diego Maradona was someone that needed to be watched.
The ‘Hand Of God’ goal was just really unexpected. I think he knew he wasn’t getting the ball and that’s why he punched it in. But, of course, he flicked his head the same time as he punched it – quite quick thinking on his part, which I think was typical of him. I looked up and was waiting for the referee to give the free-kick, but for some reason the officials didn’t see it and we were 1-0 down.
I went over to Abu Dhabi a few years ago to do some TV, and they were keen for me to shake hands with Maradona. You can never say never, but it’s got to be done the right way. It was such a big incident around the world, it’s got to be a proper apology and it needs to be publicised.
Do I expect an apology to be forthcoming any time soon? I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
Shilton is working with Jumbo Games to launch Wasgij Original 21: Football Fever; wasgij.com
Scotland striker who drank with the Danes
“Jock Stein’s death [at Ninian Park, following a qualifying match against Wales] was a very dramatic thing for all the players, but we knew he was an aging man. It was just sad that he never got to another World Cup.
But when it turned out that Alex Ferguson was taking charge, with Walter Smith as his number two, I think everybody was quite calm.
There were a lot of people who didn’t know Fergie, especially the England-based players such as Graeme Souness who weren’t quite sure and thought it might be a confrontational relationship.
But he threw himself completely and utterly at it, and it was a happy camp very quickly. The Aberdeen boys who worked under Fergie could not believe how easy he was on the other players – they were used to the hairdryer treatment and all of a sudden they were getting this.
I had a blow because I got a bad injury in the first game, but it was never meant to be for us. One of my best memories is after playing Denmark. We were staying in a hotel and the Danish players came in as we were leaving, and we ended up having a good night with quite a few of them. Jesper Olsen, Soren Lerby, the guy who injured me – all these guys.
We’d just competed and yet later that night we were sharing a few beers with them. It was a taste of the World Cup that made you realise it’s special.”
Keep up to date with all the latest news and analysis throughout the World Cup on Sky Sports News
Former Dutch captain whose return from injury led to disappointment
“I didn’t play particularly well in 1990. I was coming back from an injury, so I think the goal I scored against Ireland has to be the highlight for me. As the reigning European champions we were among the favourites, but sometimes things click and sometimes they don’t. We are very proud in the way we play our game – for a small nation such as ours to be one of the major countries in the world is something to be proud of. We have been in the final three times, so we must be doing something well. It’s a regret that I only played in one World Cup. But I had a lot of other highlights, so I don’t have too much regret.”
Gullit was speaking at the Laureus All Stars Unity Cup; laureus.com
‘‘Let’s put a rap in!’’
John Barnes on the making of World In Motion
“It was done on a whim, a drunken whim, because the rap wasn’t supposed to be a part of the song. But after a few glasses of wine it was like, ‘Let’s put a rap in!’
This was a bona fide pop group who made good songs. So while it was a World Cup song, it’s understandable that people liked it, because New Order were a great group.
We didn’t have The X Factor back then so there was no audition, it was just a case of, ‘Who can do it?’ I love rap music so it was a given that I was going to do it.
I need to up my street cred. World In Motion and Anfield Rap was a little bit like popcorn rap, I need some gangsta, hardcore rap. I need to speak to Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg – Snoop Lion, whatever he calls himself nowadays – get them involved.”
Barnes is lending his support to YO! Sushi’s #TEAMTWO campaign, asking the nation to get behind Japan as their second team to be in for a chance to win £1m if they win
One of the best penalty-takers in English football. Except that one time…
“What do I remember most about Italia ’90? The nerves. It was my first tournament, I think I had 20 caps before I went and yet nothing prepared me for that feeling ahead of the first game.
We were fortunate enough to have Gazza in the squad, so we had our own clown among us to keep us amused. I remember a [horse] race night where Peter Shilton was running the book and the players looked at the video to see the outcome of one of the races. So on the last race they all lumped money on and took absolutely thousands off Shilts, and he didn’t realise it was a set up.
In all honesty, we were probably less nervous against West Germany than in any of the other games. The longer the tournament went on, the more you felt you were in credit, as silly as it sounds.
I knew I was one of the best penalty-takers in the squad, certainly in the best five, so there was never a consideration not to take a penalty. I remember thinking to just make good contact with the ball and not change my mind. I decided to smash it down the middle, but as it went it wasn’t high enough. It was a crushing disappointment, and at that point you’re just hell bent on hoping one of your teammates will bail you out or the opposition miss, but that just wasn’t the case.
Had we not gone out, do I think we would’ve won the final? Yes, I do.”
Pearce is backed by Prostate Cancer UK – Men United; prostatecanceruk.org
America’s first ‘soccer’ icon, who brought rock star hair and flair
“Two weeks before the World Cup started I remember sitting down in my middle seat – it wasn’t like we were flying first class – and talking to a wonderful old lady. She asked me what I did for a living, and I said I play soccer. She said, ‘But what do you do for money?’ She couldn’t fathom that it could be something you did for a job, and two weeks later there I am being watched by one billion people.
I did it completely backwards. I had all the international experience but had never played professionally.
I get the question about Andrés Escobar [who was murdered 10 days after conceding an own goal against USA] more than any other, but I don’t think it should diminish the pride that we felt in that moment – running around with US flags recognising we had achieved our goal of getting to the next round. If any of us thought that by losing or doing something differently we could have changed the horrible events that came later, we’d have done that in a second.
I’ve lived the power of what a World Cup can do to an individual and I milked it for all its worth.”
Lalas is ESPN’s leading studio analyst. Download the official ESPN World Cup app at espnfc.com
One of Jack Charlton’s most capable ‘grandchildren of Ireland’
“It was special for us in ’94 as an Ireland team, because obviously there was no England there, and that propelled us centre stage a wee bit more than normal.
The opening game against Italy at Giants Stadium lives long in the memory; it was an amazing day for Irish football. It was funny, because as we were getting on the coach a lot of people were saying that there’s so many Italians in New York, it’s going to be 70/30 [support] in favour of the Italians. As we were driving through New Jersey on the way in, all we were seeing was Irish fans, so we thought, 60/40? Maybe 50/50? By the time we got to the stadium the place was completely consumed with Irish supporters. Of course there were Italians there as well, but we didn’t see many. Funnily enough, when we walked out on to the pitch for the warm up, [Ireland manager] Jack Charlton turned to Tony Cascarino and said, ‘Cas, you’re the only Italian here!’
It was a great day, a fantastic win and we celebrated in true style afterwards – we went into the car park and had a barbecue with a load of Irish fans.”
Catch live World Cup games throughout the tournament on ITV and ITV Player
One of the great Brazilian World Cup players
“I had played for my country aged just 16, but was still surprised to be named in the Brazil squad for the 1994 World Cup, aged just 17.
What I remember is travelling to the US, where the tournament was being held, and being very afraid. The thing is, it was a vital time for me. I always say that that summer was my university, the time I learned the most about football.
There I was with the some of the greatest players on the planet, training with them and watching them take on the world. To be among that at such a young age was an incredible opportunity and one that helped shape my own career.
When I scored the winning goals eight years later in the 2002 World Cup final in Tokyo, I thought back to that summer in the US where I had watched Romario and Bebeto score the goals to win my country the trophy and I had sat on the bench hoping that one day I might do the same. I never expected to go so far, though. I was ambitious and had dreams, but some people don’t achieve all their dreams, do they?”
French midfielder who understood the home advantage
“My best memory of 1998 was being at home. We’d had a good European Championship in ’96, we were building our base defensively but also offensively, and, obviously, when the time came we performed well.
Of course, [France manager] Mr Jacquet knew the team already, and we gained confidence knowing that before the World Cup we’d been out to prepare ourselves properly. The fans were also confident, which boosted us to show ourselves, our game, and when the victory came against Brazil we were able to bring it all together.
Like I say, being at home was marvellous because after a victory we were just as one – all of the communities were together and we were proud to be French. All my family were in the stadium – there were at least 50 there at the time.
I remember when I was a child I would try to watch the World Cup on TV. Of course, a television was a luxury. We didn’t have one – one TV was for the whole village – so we would run to be first in front of the TV. This was a key part of my childhood, so I remember thinking about that during the tournament.
Winning the World Cup is a great memory, but at the time I felt it wasn’t true; I thought I was still in my dreams. But by looking around the stadium, I realised – no, I am in Stade de France, this is the World Cup Final. OK!”
Karembeu was speaking at the Laureus All Stars Unity Cup; laureus.com
Ronald De Boer
Attacking half of football’s greatest twins and no fan of shootouts
“After the problems in ’96 [a mass fallout in the Dutch camp], there was a great mood. We knew one thing – we had to do it together. We played a lot of cards and had great fun.
We had the players to go all the way but we lost on penalties in the semi-final against Brazil, and I missed one of the penalties.
It’s always a sad moment – it’s a long walk from the middle of the pitch to the penalty box, and then there’s a lot that goes through your mind. You’re tired, because of the 120 minutes you’ve played. Then you think which way to shoot, should you do it hard or straight down the middle, and then you decide. But I took it too soft; it was just a bad penalty.”
De Boer was speaking at the Laureus All Stars Unity Cup; laureus.com
2002 (japan & s korea)
Spanish midfielder who felt the pain of controversy
“We were unlucky against South Korea in the quarters, and the referee’s decisions were very controversial. The round before we were watching Italy lose to South Korea and saw the decisions, so we were already a bit worried. In
a way, I have happy memories of the World Cup, but it’s bittersweet because of the decisions, as I remember thinking we could reach the final.
I didn’t take a penalty in that game. I would’ve taken the fifth but it was the fourth that we missed. The ones the manager considered the best penalty-takers are normally the first and fifth. But I did score [the decisive penalty] against Ireland. You have to remember it’s just you and the ball, and have it clear in your mind how you’re going to take it. Obviously I have my style, and it goes through your head not to miss, but that’s with any penalty, and in the World Cup it’s the same.”
Mendieta was speaking at the Laureus All Stars Unity Cup; laureus.com
2002 (japan & s korea)
Brazilian midfielder who puts success down to cartoon hair
“Before going out to play we would chant: ‘One, two, three, Brazil!’ We were like soldiers going to war, representing our country. Before the quarter-final against England, Luiz Felipe Scolari told us his selection and made everyone meet in a huge Jacuzzi and spent almost an hour lecturing and trying to give an explanation about his team choices. We soaked there in a hot tub and when we came out everyone felt like they had been cooked.
Ronaldo‘ s tuft of hair cleverly deceived the media, because he was suffering pain in his thigh. His haircut made him look like a cartoon character.
Lifting the trophy was a surreal moment. But it did not really hit home until we arrived back in Brazil. It was then we realised what we had achieved by winning Brazil’s fifth World Cup. We did not sleep on the flight from Tokyo to Brasilia, where the streets were crowded. It was madness, from children aged three to elderly gentlemen – on buildings, up trees, all showing their gratitude to us. It was incredible.”
Defender who brought humour to Germany
“What was my best memory of Rio’s World Cup Wind-Ups? Seeing Becks get out of a car in Moss Side and run down the street with fear in his eyes. Seeing Wazza try to resuscitate a dog was quite funny, as well.
We had the belief we could win it, I think we bought into [the ‘Golden Generation’]. With all the media attention and where fans were expecting us to go out there, blitz teams and win the World Cup, you kind of get sucked into that.
The Portugal game was one we felt capable of winning. I didn’t see Ronaldo’s wink. Ronaldo came up to me straight after the game and said, ‘Rio I didn’t try to get him sent off,’ and was quite apologetic. Straight after he got changed he came to the changing room and asked me to get Wazza. He said, ‘Are we all right? I didn’t want to get you sent off or anything like that. I wasn’t winking that I got you sent off.’
Their relationship never suffered, not at all.”
Ferdinand is a BBC pundit
Scored Italy’s first on their way to their first World Cup triumph in 24 years
“When Marcello Lippi, the Italy coach, came up to me at the end of normal time [in the final], bells started to toll in my head.
We both knew what he meant by that: first to take a penalty. Being first on the spot, kicking off that torture in the biggest, most incredible game that a player can play or imagine… that’s not necessarily good news. It means they think you’re the best, but it also means that if you miss, you’re first on the list of dickheads.
The two teams gather in the centre circle and the next player up has to make his way from there to the penalty spot. It’s an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s barely 50 metres, but it’s a truly terrible journey, right through the heart of your fear. The comparison with the dead man walking, pulling himself along the green mile, is exaggerated and not the most appropriate, but it does get across the idea.
I got up to head to the spot. It was my turn and I acted on instinct.
‘I’ll hit it straight down the middle, put a bit of height on it. Barthez will definitely dive and there’s no way he’s getting to it, even with his feet.’
Caressing the ball was something I had to do. I then lifted my eyes to the heavens and asked for help because if God exists, there’s no way he’s French.
My penalty went in… that lukewarm shiver a second before I struck the ball in the net is the most vivid sensation I’ve ever felt.”
I Think Therefore I Play by Andrea Pirlo, published by BackPage Press, is out now; backpagepress.co.uk
Stepped in as French captain for the suspended Zidane
“Going to the World Cup and having the captain’s responsibility was fantastic, but I’ll tell you something, I was really proud Zinedine Zidane decided to come back [as captain]. I think Zidane is the best player of the past 20 years and I was really pleased he came back with Makelele and Thuram. With these three players we were stronger, and that’s one of the reasons we reached the final.
It didn’t go our way, and it was frustrating because I think on the day we were the better team. We lost on penalties but we were happy in the way we conducted ourselves and I think we made the nation proud. I did not see [Zidane’s headbutt]. I’m sure he isn’t proud of it, but let’s not take away how well he did for the French national team. My best memory was that after every game we had our moment together, just the players. After the games, the manager would give us a few hours and we would have a barbecue.”
Catch live World Cup games throughout the tournament on ITV and ITV Player
2010 (south africa)
South Africa’s star midfielder who set up the host nation’s first tournament goal
“The atmosphere [for the first World Cup held in Africa] was incredible. I remember when we left the hotel to go to the first game, everywhere on the street people were waving the national team jersey. Everyone was behind the team, it was emotional and so exciting to be part of it.
We were used to the sound, but I think the vuvuzela was louder than ever before at the World Cup, because everyone had one. We could barely hear each other, but it’s the way we support football in South Africa, the fans cheer with a vuvuzela – it’s our culture and important for atmosphere.
[Manager] Carlos Alberto Parreira was obviously incredible. He had experienced winning a World Cup with Brazil in 1994, so it was great having him as a manager. He was always inspiring, telling us the experiences he’d had with the Brazilian team and motivating us.
I remember the first goal of the tournament, I gave the pass to Shabalala. After he scored the goal everyone went crazy. In that moment I just wished the game would end at that time, because we wanted so badly to win it.
After we were eliminated I stayed and watched a couple of big games. To be honest, I was supporting Spain, not England. The best team won, I think they deserved it.”
Last year Kagisho started the Kagisho Dikgacoi Foundation, which provides opportunities for children and young people in South Africa to participate in quality life experiences through sports
2010 (south africa)
Scored the winner in the 116th minute of the final… then got booked for his celebration
“Scoring the winning goal in the 2010 final was the best thing that’s happened to me on a personal level and for the international team. To be able to contribute the goal that won the World Cup for Spain for the first time was absolutely spectacular.
It’s a different day to any other. As the day goes on your nerves go up and down but before the game your nerves go up dramatically. Once the game begins there are no more nerves. At the moment you score the goal you’re absolutely overjoyed. But what was in my mind was that there wasn’t a lot of time left in the game and I just really wanted the ref to blow the whistle. Spain has had a few things go our way and sometimes they haven’t. All kids dream of becoming footballers and lifting a World Cup. I’ve seen other captains do it and to have the privilege to do it myself was incredible. Just the greatest thing.”
Iniesta was speaking at an event for Powerade, the official sports drink of the 2014 Fifa World Cup. See exclusive videos at youtube.com/powerade
(Images: Rex, PA, Getty, ACTION)