10 Most Memorable World Cup Final Moments

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2014

10 Most Memorable World Cup Final Moments

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    The World Cup final tends to produce moments that live long in the memory.

    It's not just goals. These games are so significant that even brief passages of action can become iconic and immortal.

    In this year's competition, German and Argentine players will compete to make history. A flash of brilliance could see a player transform from a hero to an immortal.

    The past is full of such examples. The World Cup final can create a legendary hero or villain in just a second. Join us as we count down the 10 most memorable World Cup final moments in history.

10. Marco Tardelli's Scream

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    Sometimes a celebration becomes more iconic than the goal which prompted it.

    In 1982, Italy's Marco Tardelli marked his country's second goal by charging toward the touchline and unleashing a primal scream. The image has become synonymous with the tournament.

    Italy subsequently went on to win 3-1 against West Germany and secure their third World Cup.

9. Andres Iniesta's Magical Moment

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    World Cup finals are where great players can become legends. Andres Iniesta achieved precisely that feat when he scored the goal to win Spain the 2010 competition.

    The moment was made all the more touching by Iniesta's T-shirt sporting a message in memory of Spanish footballer Daniel Jarque, who had tragically died just a year earlier.

8. France (and Arsenal) Seal the World Cup Win

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    Beating Brazil in a World Cup final is a remarkable achievement. For France to reach that pinnacle in their own country, as they did in 1998, was all the more special.

    It wasn't just the French who celebrated that victory. In London, Arsenal fans rejoiced too: Their players had contributed enormously, with Patrick Vieira assisting Emmanuel Petit for the wonderful third goal.

    "Arsenal win the World Cup," proclaimed the Daily Mirror. While that might be something of an exaggeration, this match cemented the link between the Gunners and France and announced the French as a global football superpower.

7. Geoff Hurst's Controversial Goal

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    During the 1966 final, England forward Geoff Hurst fired a shot off the underside of the West German crossbar. It was not immediately clear whether it had crossed the line.

    Referee Gottfried Dienst crossed to consult his linesman Tofik Bakhramov. After a short delay, Bakhramov ruled it had indeed been a goal.

    The England team went on to lift the cup at Wembley to secure the greatest triumph in the nation's football history.

6. The Ronaldo Mystery

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    Shortly before the 1998 final between Brazil and France, rumours began to circulate that the Brazilian's star striker Ronaldo had been left out of the starting XI.

    Indeed, when the teamsheet was initially issued 72 minutes before kick-off, Ronaldo was entirely absent.

    Within half an hour, he had been reintroduced to the team. The BBC explains:

    It was initially reported that Ronaldo had been struggling with an ankle injury, then that he had an upset stomach. There was even talk of poison and whispers about his turbulent love life. Finally team doctor Lidio Toledo revealed the striker had been rushed to hospital after suffering a convulsion in his sleep but cleared to play after neurological and cardiac tests.

    The uncertainty over Ronaldo overshadowed the entire occasion, and the striker ended up underperforming as France ran out comfortable winners. 

5. Helmut Rahn's Late Winner in the Miracle of Bern

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    The 1954 World Cup final provided one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history.

    In a thrilling match played in treacherously wet conditions, the much-fancied Hungarian team were beaten 3-2 by the West Germans. The vital goal was contributed by Helmut Rahn just six minutes from time.

    The result was made all the more shocking by the fact that Hungary had trounced Germany 8-3 in the group stages.

    The surprise scoreline saw the match christened "The Miracle of Bern," and the full-time whistle sent shock waves around the football world.

4. Roberto Baggio's Penalty Nightmare

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    The World Cup final is just as capable of producing anguish as well as elation. Sometimes it's bad memories that linger longest.

    The 1994 final in USA should have been Roberto Baggio's stage. The Italian was arguably the world's best player at the time and seemed destined to lead Italy to triumph.

    However, in a moment that would haunt him and his nation for years, Baggio missed his crucial penalty in the shootout with Brazil.

3. Zinedine Zidane Headbutts Marco Materazzi

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    Zinedine Zidane's glorious career ended in the most controversial of circumstances.

    During the 2006 World Cup final, Zidane was dismissed for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi.

    Referee Horacio Elizondo initially missed the incident but after a brief delay sent Zidane off on the advice of the fourth official.

2. Alcides Ghiggia Breaks Brazilian Hearts

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    Brazil's humiliation against Germany in this year's World Cup might be the most painful World Cup defeat in their history, but it's not the most costly.

    Back in 1950, they were also hosting the tournament. On that occasion, they got to the final to face Uruguay at the Maracana in front of 200,000 expectant fans.

    However, Brazil conspired to lose the game 2-1. The game was won by Alcides Ghiggia, just 11 minutes from time. At the final whistle, the Maracana descended into a stunned and mournful silence.

1. The Stunning Carlos Alberto Goal

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    It is somewhat extraordinary that arguably the greatest team goal in World Cup history was scored during a final.

    In the 1970 final, Brazil demolished Italy 4-1. The last of those four goals was scored by Brazilian captain Carlos Alberto, rounding off a stunning move with a thumping finish into the far corner.

    It was a moment that summed up everything that is good about Brazilian football—and everything that's intoxicating about the World Cup.

    What's your favourite World Cup final moment? Let us know below.


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