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’s bumper issue comes courtesy of Joe Lovelace, Head of PR at Marathonbet, who goes very left-field when addressing a favourite World Cup player, discusses standout tournaments in the form of France ‘98 and South Africa 2010 and brushes over English disappointment when faced with Brazilian opposition.
First World Cup Memory:
10 June – 12 July 1998 (World Cup, France). My first searing World Cup memory has to be watching the Brazilian Ronaldo take the world by storm at the age of 21 in the 1998 World Cup in France. As a six-year-old at the time, an exciting and vibrant Brazil side seemed to stick out for me with their famous yellow strip, while spearheaded by the best player in the world at the time. Despite losing to France in the final, Ronaldo and that Brazilian team will always be my first World Cup moment of note. They encapsulated everything that was thrilling about football at that time.
Favourite World Cup:
South Africa, 2010. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was a personal favourite. Despite most people hating the constant buzz of vuvuzelas over the commentary and the standard of football not setting the world alight, I was living in South Africa at the time and got to experience first-hand what it feels like to see a country gripped by World Cup fever – the country came alive from start to finish.
Carlos Valderrama. A real left-field choice for this one. Again, going back to my first World Cup experience I was old enough to remember properly was France 1998. England played Colombia in the group stages and their captain, number 10 and midfielder was someone you couldn’t forget even if you tried – Carlos Valderrama. The Colombian man laid claim to a trademark blonde afro along with a distinguishable moustache. Valderrama was the type of character that you’d only need to see once and never forget.
Michael Owen (England v Argentina, 1998). Most England fans will have the same answer for this one and it’s hard to disagree – Michael Owen against Argentina in the Quarter Finals of France 1998. A teenage Owen picked the ball up just inside his own half, skipped pass numerous Argentine defenders before putting England ahead 2-1. Sending my entire family into raptures at the time!
Brazil, 2002. It’s not a World Cup without Brazil in their famous yellow strip. The team of 2002 sticks out, a vibrant and exciting attacking line of Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho set the world alight, and disappointingly knocked out England after a David Seaman mistake in the second half. They then went on to win the tournament.
Uruguay v Ghana, 2010. Watching Uruguay v Ghana live at Soccer City in the Quarter Final of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was my favourite and most memorable game to date. The Black Stars were bidding to be the first African country to make to the last four of a World Cup. Despite having an entire nation roaring them on a last minute Luis Suarez handball, blocking Asamoah Gyan’s shot that was destined for the back for the net in the process, dented their chances of making history as they crashed out on dreaded penalties.
Netherlands, 2002. It has to be the trademark orange kit of Holland and more specifically their kit in the 2002 Korea and Japan World Cup. Not many colours do you usually automatically associate to a football nation but two nation’s sit outside of this in Brazil’s case with yellow and the Netherlands with orange.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.