Soccer’s Most Memorable World Cup Moments (Photos)

November 16, 2022

The Hand of God. Zidane’s headbutt. Gazza’s tears.

Many of soccer’s most iconic moments have taken place at the World Cup, the latest edition of which starts in Qatar on Sunday.

The Associated Press has covered the tournament through the years and followed the world’s greatest players, none more so than Diego Maradona and Pelé.

Maradona, the Argentina superstar who died in 2020, was a figure of controversy — look at the way he punched the ball in the goal for his team’s opener against England in the quarterfinals in 1986 — but also a magician with the ball at his feet.

FILE – Brazil’s Pele, center, is hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates after Brazil won the World Cup soccer final against Italy, 4-1, in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, Mexico. (AP Photo, file)
FILE – An aerial view of the Centenario stadium in Montevideo, Uruguay, July 30, 1930 during the World Cup final soccer match in which Uruguay defeated Argentina 4-2. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – Uruguay’s first goal in the World Cup final soccer match against Argentina, in Montevideo, Uruguay on July 30, 1930. (AP Photo/File)

Like his snaking run through England’s midfield and defense and then past goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the same game for perhaps the best World Cup goal.

Pelé won the World Cup with Brazil for the first time as a lithe 17-year-old in 1958 and was 29 when he achieved the feat for a record third time in 1970. Fans lifted a grinning Pele onto their shoulders inside the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

FILE – The Italian soccer team perform the fascist salute in Colombes Stadium, Paris, before the start of the World Cup final soccer match against Hungary on June 19, 1938. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – U.S. center forward Joe Gaetjens is carried off by cheering fans after his team beat England 1-0 in a World Cup soccer match in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on June 28, 1950. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – Brazil’s 17-year-old Pele, left, weeps on the shoulder of goalkeeper Gilmar Dos Santos Neves, after Brazil’s 5-2 victory over Sweden in the World Cup final soccer match, in Stockholm, Sweden on June 29, 1958. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – Italian forward Giorgio Ferrini, centre, is sent off by British referee Ken Aston after an incident during the first half of the World Cup soccer match against Chile in Santiago on June 2, 1962. Ferrini refused to leave the field and was removed by police officers. The match has been labelled the ‘Battle of Santiago’. (AP Photo/File)

How about those other much-talked about moments, like Zinedine Zidane, France’s graceful playmaker, headbutting Italy defender Marco Materazzi in the chest in the 2006 final. Or Geoff Hurst’s shot that bounced down off the underside of the crossbar and over the line — or was it? — in the 1966 final as England beat West Germany for its only World Cup title. Or Paul Gascoigne welling up after collecting a yellow card in the 1990 semifinals that would have ruled him out of the title match, had England reached it.

Then there are those famous goals in the final, by Germany’s Mario Götze in 2014, Spain’s Andres Iniesta in 2010, Brazil’s Ronaldo in 2002 and, much further back, Argentina’s Mario Kempes in 1978.

It’s all about getting your hands on the World Cup trophy. Just look at the joy on the faces of Maradona in 1986, Zidane in 1998 and Germany captain Franz Beckenbauer in 1974.

FILE – Detective Chief Inspector William Little, left, holds the World Cup, as Senior Commander John Lawlor, centre, and Chief Superintendent William Gilbert, admire the cup after its safe return to the police at Cannon Row Police Station, (Scotland Yard), London on March 28, 1966. (AP Photo/Rider-Rider, File)
FILE – The North Korean soccer team line-up before their match against Portugal, at Goodison Park, Liverpool, England, on July 23, 1966. Portugal defeated North Korea 5-3. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – West Germany captain, Franz Beckenbauer holds up the World Cup trophy after his team defeated the Netherlands 2-1, in the World Cup final soccer match at Munich’s Olympic stadium, in West Germany on July 7, 1974. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – Italy’s Paolo Rossi celebrates, after scoring the second goal for his team during their World Cup match second round soccer match against Brazil, in Barcelona, Spain on July 5, 1982. Italy, who beat Brazil 3-2 in a classic match, went on to win the tournament with Rossi scoring six goals. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – Italy’s Marco Tardelli, right, hits the ball past West German defender Bernd Forster, to score his team’s second goal, during the World Cup Final in the Santiago Bernabau Stadium, Madrid,on July 11, 1982. Italy defeated West Germany 3-1. (AP Photo, File)
FILE – Argentina’s Diego Maradona, left, beats England goalkeeper Peter Shilton to a high ball and scores his first of two goals in a World Cup quarterfinal soccer match, in Mexico City on June 22, 1986. (El Grafico, Buenos Aires via AP/File)
FILE – Roberto Baggio of Italy looks disappointed after Brazilian goalkeeper Taffarel saved his penalty shot, during the World Cup Final, in Pasadena, Ca., USA, on July 17, 1994. Brazil defeated Italy 3-2 on penalties in the final to win the World Cup. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
FILE – Uruguay’s Luis Suarez holds his teeth after colliding with Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil on June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan, File)
FILE – From left to right, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic stand under the pouring rain during the awards ceremony after final match between France and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, July 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)



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