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The story of the 1970 World Cup

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Jonathan Stevenson | 17:32 UK time, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will be looking back at previous tournaments with the help of some of the key characters and the BBC's archive footage.

Mexico, May & June, 1970

Perhaps the most indelible image from any World Cup is that of the peerless Pele playing a perfectly weighted pass at the end of the 1970 final for a marauding Brazil captain Carlos Alberto to thump home.

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It was certainly the defining moment of that competition; the sublime individual skill that went into making a team goal that proved to be the perfect way for the world to remember arguably the most brilliant collection of footballers ever assembled.

And it was a fitting denouement to probably the finest World Cup tournament of all.

With armchair supporters able to watch their new heroes on colour television for the first time, the 16 competing nations produced a feast for the eyes never before and perhaps never since matched.

For holders England, the Mexican fiesta of football began in catastrophic fashion when captain Bobby Moore was arrested before the World Cup had even begun for allegedly stealing a bracelet from a jeweller's shop in Colombia. He was released on bail so he could play, with the charges quietly dropped later.

Not exactly the ideal preparation, but it was England's Group Three meeting with Brazil that set the World Cup alight, and ended with many experts predicting the two teams were destined to meet again in the final at the Azteca Stadium.

The game contained three moments that will forever be ingrained in England's footballing psyche: Bobby Moore executing a wonderful tackle to deny a rampaging Jairzinho, poor Jeff Astle dragging a left-foot shot horribly wide from 10 yards and Gordon Banks producing a seemingly impossible save to keep out Pele's bullet header.

"It's funny," said Banks in a recent interview, "but when I leave this planet, that save in 1970 is what I'll be known for rather than winning the cup in 1966. Pele was already shouting 'goal' because it looked for all the world to be going in. It's amazing how people still talk about it."

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Banks, Moore and the irrepressible Pele - who almost scored from inside his own half against Czechoslovakia - were proving their world-class quality once more, but a new breed of stars was also emerging.

Goal-hungry West Germany striker Gerd Muller scored hat-tricks in successive group games against Bulgaria and Peru, Jairzinho was busy scoring in every Brazil game, and the Peruvians and their midfield maestro Teofilo Cubillas were catching the eye with some entertaining football that saw 18 goals in their four matches.

Cubillas - who struck five times in the tournament - has plenty of reasons to remain proud of his country's finest World Cup performance, coming as it did so soon after the worst natural disaster in the history of Peru - an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale.

"We were well prepared for that cup," Cubillas told me. "In our first game, two days after the earthquake, we came from 3-2 down to beat Bulgaria and I scored the winner, a goal that brought joy back to our country after the catastrophe.

"I played in the 1978 and 1982 World Cups too, but I have to say I enjoyed 1970 the most because we functioned as a team - one for all and all for one. We had a good coach and we knew each other well on the field, I think that was why we were so successful."

It is humbling to discover just how much the World Cup still means to someone like Cubillas, who now runs a football academy in Florida with his two sons. "It was my dream to play in a World Cup and I achieved it at 20 years of age," he says. "It's a tremendous honour as in this lifetime you reap what you sow, and I feel privileged to have chosen soccer as my profession.

"The World Cup is the maximum expression in this sport of ours. A player that doesn't make it to the World Cup will always have that one piece missing, whereas if he does make it his mission is complete."

When the quarter-finals got under way, it signalled the start of a procession of games that would go down in the echelons of World Cup history. All four last-eight contests took place on Sunday 14 June, spread out across Mexico, and they did not disappoint.

Uruguay beat Soviet Union with a 116th-minute winner, Brazil won a six-goal thriller against Cubillas's like-minded Peruvians and Italy shrugged off a sluggish start to the tournament by hammering the hosts 4-1 in Toluca.

More than 200 miles away in Leon, England v West Germany turned into a classic to rival what had occurred four years previously. Missing Banks, who was laid low by a stomach upset, Sir Alf Ramsey's men went 2-0 up just after the break thanks to goals from Alan Mullery and Martin Peters, before disaster struck.

First Banks's replacement Peter Bonetti allowed a Franz Beckenbauer shot to slip under his body, then Uwe Seeler levelled. When it went to extra-time, the prolific Muller turned and fired in a winner.

The holders were out, but the breathless football showed no signs of slowing down. While Clodoaldo, Jairzinho and Rivelinho were helping Brazil dispatch Uruguay 3-1 in Guadalajara, one of the World Cup's classic contests was developing in Mexico City as West Germany and Italy fought for the right to meet the Brazilians in the final.

It is a game known as Partita del Secolo in Italian and Jahrhundertspiel in German - the 'Game of the Century' - yet for so long it seemed as though Roberto Boninsegna's eight-minute strike would earn a 1-0 win for the Italians. However, when Karl-Heinz Schnellinger - who played for AC Milan in Italy - equalised at the death, the most astonishing period of extra-time followed.

Muller put Germany ahead, only for Tarcisio Burgnich to level. Luigi Riva edged Italy in front, only for Muller to equalise. With the cameras still showing replays of the goal that made it 3-3, Boninsegna pulled the ball back and Gianni Rivera crashed in a winner.

A game that was 1-0 in the 89th minute finished 4-3. It remains the only World Cup contest in history that has seen five goals scored in extra-time.

By the time the Italians lined up to face Brazil in the final four days later, they were exhausted. Boninsegna cancelled out Pele's early opener just before the break, but in the second half Brazil turned on the style to tear Ferruccio Valcareggi's side apart.

Gerson's 20-yard rocket put them ahead again, Jairzinho bundled in and then with four minutes left, and the Italians a spent force, Carlos Alberto ended a move that comprised nine players to put the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake. It also ensured that, as he held the Jules Rimet aloft a few minutes later, the trophy would forever belong to the Brazilians, as they became the first country to win the World Cup three times.

Pele, who had wowed the world with his sparkling skills throughout the tournament, set an individual record that may never be broken with his third World Cup triumph, 12 years after arriving on the world stage as a precocious 17-year-old in Sweden.

The last word must go to Burgnich, tasked with marking 'The King' on his final appearance on the global stage: "I told myself before the game that he's made of skin and bone like everyone else. But I was wrong."

Watch England's quarter-final defeat to West Germany
Watch Italy's stunning semi-final against the West Germans
Watch the top 10 goals from the 1970 World Cup in Mexico

If you can remember 1970, do let me know your thoughts. If, like me, you can't, tell me what that tournament and that brilliant Brazil side mean to you.

On Monday, the series continues with a look at the 1974 finals as the World Cup went Oranje crazy, with memories from two of the central protagonists in West Germany.


  • Comment number 1.

    The 1970 World Cup Finals was the first one which I really paid attention to as I was a bit too young for the 1966 tournament in England.
    For me, the Mexico competition will always be the classic World Cup, as it featured an England side which many considered to be even better than the one which won the trophy four years earlier and quite possibly the finest team ever to play football - Brazil's magnificent squad. Add strong teams from Italy, West Germany and Uruguay and it's not hard to see why Mexico 1970 is so fondly remembered.
    We bought our first colour TV in honour of the event, although the pictures looked like they were coming from Mars, not Mexico.
    With just 16 teams participating, there was none of the two-week filler while the dross is eliminated that you get with the modern World Cups.
    Like all schoolboys across the country I was an avid collector of the Esso World Cup coins featuring the England squad players and the original Panini stickers and cards featuring most of the World Cup participants.
    For those of you of a certain age, here they all are for you to enjoy again...

  • Comment number 2.

    I wasn't in this world back in 1970 but from what i have seen from the footages and from what i have heard from the people , it looks like it was probably the best World Cup ever . The Brazilian side wouldv'e been sheer joy to watch . The goal by Carlos Alberto was great . I would put it among my top 5 goals of the World Cup history . Cambiasso's against Serbia in '06 was a similar one to that Alberto's . Amazing how England let a 2-0 lead slip . But Brazil worthy winners .

  • Comment number 3.

    Personally, by earliest contact with football was 1991 (I was 6 back then); I remember I was going to double up in excitement when one day a classmate told me he had a videotape of highlights from Italia 90, the last truly great World Cup. I still cherish this as one of my best footballing memories.

    All this preparation for the World Cup is well and good, but to me, the magic of the cup (the real one) has long since gone. I was not around in the 70s or the 80s, but these grainy clips have infinitely more character and charm than the meticulous hi-def crap we have been fed since 1994. I'm afraid it's never going to be the same again.

  • Comment number 4.

    For me to remember nearly every single Brazilian player shows how much that 1970 World Cup is etched in the memory like NO other World Cup.
    Alf Ramsey made a huge mistake in resting Bobby Charlton against West Germany when leading 2 - 0.
    Charlton was running midfield up to that point with his opposite number Beckenbauer for Germany not getting a look in.
    As soon as Charlton was subbed Beckenbauer took over midfield and stamped his authority on the game to help Germany win 3-2 !!
    The Brazil England game was one of the best for the Archives with Pele being man marked by Mullery and for 89 minutes did a good job but one minute of sheer brilliance form Pele led Brazil to a 1- 0 win.
    Peles header against Banks was probably the best header I have ever seen and yet Banks defied gravity to keep it out.
    Because of Peles heading and athletic ability would put Pele as the best player of all time. His vertical leap probably would have won the world high jump record!
    I have never to this day seen as much footballing talent as the 1970 world cup produced and all the rubbish about footballers getting better!!??

    Pele swapped shirts with Bobby Moore and later said that Moore was the best defender in the world.

  • Comment number 5.

    'Alf Ramsey made a huge mistake in resting Bobby Charlton against West Germany when leading 2 - 0.
    Charlton was running midfield up to that point with his opposite number Beckenbauer for Germany not getting a look in.
    As soon as Charlton was subbed Beckenbauer took over midfield and stamped his authority on the game to help Germany win 3-2 !!'

    I did not think it would be long before this out chestnut was trotted out. In reality Charlton was not having a particularly good tournament (possibly suffering more than others in that searing heat)and had previously been subbed in two of England's group games. The theory that him being subbed allowed Beckanbauer to suddenly roam free is not supported by the facts. Firstly Germany were 2-0 down, what else could they do but come forward? Also Beckanbauer scored when Charlton was still on the field. In a BBC documentary some years after the 1970 Charlton actually admitted that his substition did not affect the game. The real story is more prosaic-a typical German comeback with a nice slice of good fortune.

    As for the rest of the tournament, Brazil were magnificent though their goalkeeper and defence were poor. The front six were simply breathtaking.

  • Comment number 6.

    I look forward to reading about the two following world cups without the mention of doubt you will find a way, even though they didn't qualify.

  • Comment number 7.

    That wonderful Brazil team.... back in the day when football was truly "the beautiful game".

    ESPN Classic has recently broadcast full-length both the Brazil v England match, and the Brazil v Italy final. I am amazed how much better the football flowed in those days. Yes it was physical and highly tactical... players getting up and getting on with it after heavy challenges, none of the referee brandishing a plethora of yellow cards nonsense... less cynical times I guess.

    Abiding memories of 1970... watching in black and white, the high contrast on the pictures between sunlight and shade - you could barely see the action when the players were in the shadows .... great cackling satellite commentary from David Coleman and Hugh Johns - like they were broadcasting from the moon. England spluttering to group-phase single goal victories against Czechoslovakia and Romania. The "open goal" Jeff Astle miss against Brazil. The brilliance of England captain Bobby Moore. Me and my brother crying our eyes out at England's quarter-final extra-time demise against West Germany. The pandemonium on the pitch after the final whistle in the final ... fans invading the pitch tearing shirts of Brazilian player's backs (Pele, I believe had to get a new one to go up the steps for the trophy presentation)... oh yes and Pele, Carlos Alberto, Gerson, Jairzino, Tostao and Rivelino.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have never to this day seen as much footballing talent as the 1970 world cup produced and all the rubbish about footballers getting better!!??
    Talent and ability are two different things. Players now are better, they are fitter, stronger, more professional and more tactically aware. Pele's talent ensures would have been the best in any era but if he was playing now he would have been even better than in the 70's, though as the others around him would have been much closer to his ability level he may not stand out so obviously.

  • Comment number 9.

    #6, assume you must be Scottish. Be a paucity of mentions of your team in most World Cups. Apart from games with Iran, Costa Rica etc, good job the Faroes never qualify. Cubillas, what a player, remember some great goals against someone in 1978 WC.

  • Comment number 10.

    ESPN Classic has recently broadcast full-length both the Brazil v England match, and the Brazil v Italy final.


    Gutted I missed them! I hope they show them again before the World Cup kicks off.

  • Comment number 11.


    It's a shame that you regard Italia 90 as the last great World Cup... I regard it as a huge disappointment. Cynical, negative, the poor seemed to far outweigh the good. USA94, against the odds, was a far superior tournament.

    Funny how arguably the 2 best World Cups of all time have both been in Mexico...

  • Comment number 12.

    I certainly wasn't around then. I have seen many clips of the 1970 world cup but it isn't so special for me. From my standpoint, Italia 90, is the best. I was 14 yrs old and a certain Roger Milla was making all the headlines. No worldcup since has really been able to grab my attention as much. Cameroon beating Argentina and Colombia? that was pure football heaven.

  • Comment number 13.

    'It's a shame that you regard Italia 90 as the last great World Cup... I regard it as a huge disappointment. Cynical, negative, the poor seemed to far outweigh the good. '

    I agree. It seems 1990 has been viewed as a good World Cup, probably due to the fact that England reached the semi-finals (despite only winning one game out of seven in 90 minutes). I can recall low scoring and a desperate Argentina team that thankfully failed to win the equally desperate final in which Germany had just enough left in the tank to claim the prize.

    For details of previous World Cups (they all had varying degrees of controvesy and entertainment) I would recommend 'Complete Book of the World Cup 2006' by Cris Freddi. An excellent history (no 2010 version planned).

  • Comment number 14.

    Italia 90 was my first real football memory, kevin sheedy getting the equaliser againist england, Ireland - holland not playing with 10 mins to go as they knew they would both go through, boring tournament for the neutral, with the worst final ever, i think i fell asleep.
    Wasnt around for the 1970, but watching the old clips, see that save from banks, and with only 16 teams in it, it was the best of the best.

    Nice blog.
    Save QOTW & ROTW

  • Comment number 15.

    How about the absolute classic BBC commentary of the closing minute of the Brazil v Uruguay 1970 semi-final.
    "!!RIVELINO 3!! And Uruguay have paid the penalty of trying to get the equaliser - right on the final whistle!..... and PELE RACING INTO SPACE, AND HE'S GONNA GET A 4TH, OH WHAT, WHAT GENIUS!!"
    Also, the Brazil v Hungary 1966 commentary is absolute timeless - "Albert, number 9, oh look at this player he's a charmer"
    For brilliant World Cup action I highly recommend BBC's 'The Boys From Brazil', narrated by John Motson, which I bought on VHS prior to Italia'90. It gets raked out prior to the World Cup every 4 years. Think it's available on DVD now.
    Does the BBC have any plans to re-release this with updates after 1986?

  • Comment number 16.

    The introduction of Colour TV around that time truly cemented the 1970 World Cup's iconic status. Everthing, from the classic adidas 'Telstar' spotted ball to the vivid yellow Brazil shirts just shone all that much brighter.

    Legendary moments including "The Bobby Moore Tackle" on Jairzinho, Gordon Banks's "Greatest Save Of All Time" from Pele... became trademark England moments, even though the World Champions did eventually lose that game and exited with a bit of a wimper to the Germans.

    Brazil's 1970 team is chief reason in my opinion why the 'Samba Kings' still have that 'magical aura' surrounding them to this day even when often ot isn't merited. Pele's dummy attempt against Uruguay and his outrageous attempt to lob Czechoslovakia's goalkeeper from inside his own half - pure fantasy football.

  • Comment number 17.

    comment 3

    if you think Italia 90 was great then sadly sir you know little or nothing at all about football. Probably the worst world cup ever with Argentina the WORST side ever to reach a final. in the 6 group games in Englands group for instance 5 of em were draws-and mostly boring ones at that

  • Comment number 18.

    The best WC ever. Ive no doubt about it.England were actually a far better side than in 66. Pity that Brazil were too! as for that 'der Bomber' i.e Gerd Muller!We so missed Banks v the Germans. With him we would have won as i always see it.

    Look at the types we indulge as internationals now. Its saddening. Ramsey would nt have indulged pariahs like Terry and Ferdinand and the likes of Rooney and Cole would be on thin ice.Changing times (for the worse)

  • Comment number 19.

    What the football historians forget is that Italy had played a grueling 120 minute semi final against West Germany 4 days earlier in the heat of a Mexican afternoon while Brazil had a relative stroll against Uruguay.

    The conditions played a massive part in this world cup. I maintain Italy would've beaten Brazil had it been played in the evening and had they had another day or two to recover from that semi final, just look at the players they had.

  • Comment number 20.

    I have not witnessed a World Cup as glorious as USA '94. Before I came to live in England many years ago (shortly before the 2002 World Cup), there was a consensus amongst many people I knew that after 1970 this was the best World Cup of the modern times, but English people do not seem to agree. Perhaps because it was held in the USA?

    The first time 32 teams ever participated, the total attendance at the final game remains the highest ever and who can forget those exotic american stadia? Foxboro? Pontiac Silverdome? Cotton Bowl? Soldier Field? Rose Bowl!!

    This World cup had the scintllating Colombians who ended up disappointing.

    The North Koreans who drew with Spain and Bolivia and threatened to come from 3 goals down against the Germans - the match eventually fininshing 3-2

    The plucky Nigerians who defeated Bulgaria 3 -0 and topped their Group (which included Argentina!)in their first ever World Cup game. These same Bulgarians then went on to beat Argentina, Greece, Mexico and Germany before succumbing to Italy in the semi-finals!

    Russia beating Cameroun 6 -1 with Oleg Salenko (remember him?) scoring 5! Yet Roger Milla producing that superlative dance when Cameroun scored on the stroke of halftime

    Italy/Norway/Mexico/Ireland Group! all teams finished on the same points and goals difference!!!!

    One Saeed Al-Owairan of Saudi Arabia dribbling past 5 players from the half way line to score a superb goal against Belgium in a 1-0 victory

    Italy beating Nigeria in the second round after Nigeria had led 1-0 until the 88th minute!

    That Georgie Hagi goal as Romania beat Argentina in the second round

    That superb Netherland Vs Brazil game in the quarter final which ended 2-3 after Holand had twice come from behind to level matters!!

    Sweden taking Brazil to the wire in the semi-final before succumbing to a superb Romario effort in the 80th minute

    And who can forget that Brazil - Italy final, with Roberto Baggio missing the decisive penalty!

    England was not at that World Cup!!! Now I know why they don't rate it...

  • Comment number 21.

    It wasn't Bobby Charlton's absence from the team that cost England so dear.

    The blame can be squarely laid at the door of he who was thenceforth called 'The Mexico Fumbler'.

  • Comment number 22.

    "A game that was 1-0 in the 89th minute finished 4-3. It remains the only World Cup contest in history that has seen five goals scored in extra-time."

    Or six I presume.

  • Comment number 23.

    "22. At 2:33pm on 13 May 2010, you wrote:
    "A game that was 1-0 in the 89th minute finished 4-3. It remains the only World Cup contest in history that has seen five goals scored in extra-time."

    Or six I presume.


  • Comment number 24.

    I was all of ten years old for the 1970 World Cup, but I do remember the quality of football, albeit through a 19 inch black and white TV. My clearest memory is watching Brazil play at what was our breakfast time. Enthralled, I just couldn't turn the TV off and get to school, so I decided to do the crime and do the time. Anyway, with some trepidation I hopped off the Edinburgh transport bus in front of my school at about 9.45, only to see boys streaming in from all directions who had done the same thing. Just the sheer number of transgressors made strapping us all impossible, so incredibly we got away with it. A perfect day.

  • Comment number 25.

    "A game that was 1-0 in the 89th minute finished 4-3. It remains the only World Cup contest in history that has seen five goals scored in extra-time."

    Or six I presume.

    Yes it was 1-0 in the 89th minute, Obviously an equaliser was scored make it go to extra-time in the first place. So it was just 5 goals that were scored in extra-time

  • Comment number 26.

    Wasn't even born in 1970 but have become a student of that tournament.Seemed to have watched every single match and ESPN Classic has refreshed my memories.Carlos Alberto scored a stunner but the sight of Clodoaldo dribbling his way past 4 Italian players in midfield is even more a highlight for me than Pele nonchalantly easy blind pass.Back then the Brazilian names(Pele,Tostao,Rivelino,Jair)seemed to roll of the tongue.
    The tournament i most identified with was Espana 82.In that brilliant Tele Santana helmed side featuring Zico,Junior,Socrates and Falcao this then 8 year old was strangely struck by the number 11 Eder.That was a great tournament,Italy starting slow,Brazil scoring great goals but with most of their intricate moves dying at the feet of the lumbering Serginho Chulapa,Poland with Boniek and Lato,Schumacher almost decapitating Batiston and the final at the Bernabeu with Tardelli going potty after scoring!
    Mexico 86 was another great one while Italia 90 is the reason i hate penalty shoot out although the rule that keepers couldn't handle backpasses was one positive from this negative competition.
    USA 94 gave that brilliant Romanian team and lots of great matches of course ruined by the first pen shoot out final...its been all down hill since then!

  • Comment number 27.

    I'll never forget that World Cup with Pele's huge dummy and then later his shot from the halfway line. As a Dubliner and an Everton fan, I was fascinated by the England team as they said it was better than the 1966 team and it had a lot of the Everton championship winners in it. One of whom, was Henry Newton who did something in the quarter finals which I'd never seen before. When losing 3-2 late in extra time, as he a full back, he launched himself forward and struck a beautiful dipping shot. I'd never seen anyone make a ball dip like that and although he didn't scored I admired his bravery, hunger and skills.

    I remember Bobby Moore & Pele embracing each other and Pele saying later he was my friend. Years later I wrote about that moment in a book of short strories on sportsmanship and put Moore and Pele on the cover.

    How we worried for Bobby Charlton in the heat and hgh altitude. When they took him (and was it Peters) off they were 2-0 up and then they lost 3-2. Still wonder today - should they have changed a winning team albeit a knackered' team?

    Lastly, Jairzinho's joy - always kneeling and praying after scoring. Hope we'll see unbridled joy in this World Cup and less anger in celebrations which is a question I've raised elsewhere and welcome any answers I hear years later that a marketing guy called David Mayby got him to always run to the Mothercare sign and pray in front of it (he also claimed he got West Indies cricketers to aim at the Mothercare signs!). Trollop, I'm sure but here's hoping for a celebration of great football in Africa.

  • Comment number 28.

    The 1970 WC was the first I can remember. My dad would wake me early to get up and watch the games over breakfast before school (and in a couple of cases when i should have been at school!)
    Great WC, great memories. Pele at his greatest. Can't remember who Brazil were playing against (Uruguay?) but there was that superb dummy Pele flummoxed the keeper with - his subsequent shot from a tight angle just went wide. Always thought that if he'd scored, that would have been one of if not his best goal ever.

  • Comment number 29.


    The quality of that 94 World Cup was dire.

    PS Yes, the razzamataz that only America would give it was tiresome too, though not as bad as most of the football.

  • Comment number 30.

    LOL @ 23

    hoisted by your own petard!

    I agree that Mexico 70 is the most memorable World Cup even though I was too young to remember. Also, who can forget Maradona walking past defenders with such an ease in Mexico 86. I can hardly remember the rest tournaments.

  • Comment number 31.

    @29 you can bet your last $

    "The quality of that 94 World Cup would not have been dire and the razzamataz that only America would give it would not have been tiresome "

    had England participated and won that edition.

  • Comment number 32.

    USA 94 was a terrible WC (I'm not English)

    It was defensive and unimaginative.

    The final was a dire stalemate with neither team wanting to lose rather than either team playing to win.

    It was instantly forgotten the moment Baggio missed that penalty.

  • Comment number 33.

    USA 94 was dire?Humbly disagree mate!Was in Uni and had to get up at 2 am to watch most of the matches but we had some great matches in the States.Holland v Brazil,Argentina v Romania,Romania v Sweden were all high scoring entertaining matches.Bulgaria getting thumped 3 nil in their opening match and 4 nil in their final match but ended up 4th is still kinda funny.The tournament was high in quality but the Yanks seemed to be only interested in the developing O.J Simpson case.Their loss!

  • Comment number 34.

    "The final was a dire stalemate with neither team wanting to lose rather than either team playing to win."

    Great descision by FIFA to play the game in the middle of a summer afternoon in California.

  • Comment number 35.

    #20 I agree the world cup of 1994 was a good world cup however your memory seems a little rusty.

    USA 1994 only had 24 countries competing. The first to have 32 teams was actually France 98.

    The North Korean team that you mention was Korea Republic (aka South Korea).

    In the Holland Brazil match Holland only came back once...from 2 nil down to level at 2-2. They then lost 3-2

  • Comment number 36.

    #32 Whilst the final at the 94 world cup did not live up to expectations the rest of the tournament was certainly not defensive.

  • Comment number 37.

    I can't say with certainty which World Cup was the best. In my lifetime I would say Mexico 86 or USA 94; but I can tell you that the worst Mundial was Japan/Korea 2002. Spain, Portugal, France, Argentina crashed out early. England soon followed, and Holland didn't even qualify! Had events been marginally different in the semi-final, Turkey and South Korea might have been in the final!

    Most of the stars tipped to shine in the tournament flopped - Owen, Beckham, Veron, Rui Costa, Figo, Totti, Henry, Zidane, Trezeguet, Crespo. What a crass tournament! The officiating was terrible, with some decisions really affecting qualification for the next stages: Totti's wromgful sending off against Korea, and Moriente's disallowed goal against Korea.

    The final was a drab affair, with 2 Ronaldo goals, following mistakes by Khan. Even all the African teams flopped, with Cameroun flattering to deceive, before being dumped out by Germany. England never got started, and the general poor goalkeeping was typified by Ronaldinho's lob of Seaman.

  • Comment number 38.

    @ No.23 - Paul: My memory may be failing me, but wasn't his name Keith Newton?
    The 'back from the dead' loss to W. Germany grates to this day. Perhaps because it is so rare to see an English team so on top of a German one, and an excellent German one at that. Most people cite the untimely substitutions that broke our fluidity, but don't forget the decisive German one, bringing on tricky winger Grabowsky. And why does nobody remember Roger Hunt, at 2-0 up, allowing the ball to pass between him and the German goalpost when he only had to stick his foot out? That, added to his spreading his arms and turning his back - when he could've easily ended all doubts about 1966's controversial 'goal-line goal' by putting the bouncing ball in the back of the net - mean my international memories of the great Liverpool striker are unfortunately very negative ones.
    England had a team in 1970 that ought to have reached the final and given the Brazilian 'gods' a run for their money (we were the only team they feared, apparently), but we didn't. Nevertheless, there are enough great footballing memories of that tournament to please any true fan of the beautiful game.

  • Comment number 39.

    Correction, that was No.27 - Paul. Short-term memory problem, but the long-term one's still good, I hope :o)

  • Comment number 40.

    Good blog but I can't watch the videos as I am not in the UK. I think that Banks save will be remembered long after the man is gone.

  • Comment number 41.

    @37 Yeah I agree! 2002 was definitely the worst
    @35 Corrections accepted
    @32 wow! you sure are impossible to please. good luck
    @36 I definitely believe a final should be tough and tense often ending in pens. I'm not one for a 4-0 final or high scoring game...makes nonsense of the tournament...all of that should have happened between the group games and quater finals

    For those who love a proper duel, that final between Italy and Brazil was a properly fought out tactical battle. It is foolish after putting in all that effort to get to a final to then play expansively (like Arsenal did against Barca) unless you are looking to get thrashed and trust me you will get a proper spanking!

  • Comment number 42.

    Who remembers all those colombian players in '94...though they came bottom of their group they still played with a style and verve that was unforgettable. You have to say their experience typifies the importance on not letting in cheap goals early on as this affects your confidence
    Andres ESCOBAR , Carlos VALDERRAMA, Freddy RINCON, Faustino ASPRILLA, Alexis MENDOZA

  • Comment number 43.

    Nice article, Jonathan. Can you tell me if the BBC will be broadcasting the match highlights here on the BBC Red Button before the World Cup?

    On the subject of best and worst World Cups, I've watched every one since 1982 and would rank as follows:

    1. 1986
    2. 1982
    3. 2006
    4. 1994
    5. 2002
    6. 1998
    7. 1990

    The 1970 World Cup was obviously a great competition. I imagine the 1974 event would safely make my top three as well, and the 1978 wouldn't be too far behind.


  • Comment number 44.

    That's the first time I've watched these highlights in forty years. What memories from my first world cup. So many names came flooding back, even remarks from commentators. How well too I recall the pain as an eight year old seeing England throw away a 2-0 lead.
    The following year I got a diary with an article on the 4-3 semi final humdinger and oddly I remember crying reading it.
    Ever since 1970 I have been under the impression that all world cups should really be held in Mexico.

  • Comment number 45.

    1970 was the first world cup I remember. England had a great squad, but really scraped the qualifiers. England were 2-0 up against W Germany. This was on a Sunday evening. I know that cos my parents took me to church at 2-0 up and I came back and they'd lost. Went off religion from that point.

    Apart from 1970, don't know what year, but the year Italy won against all the odds, with Paulo Rossi scoring a hatful. Not even sure England were there ! The Brazilian side was just sublime. Falcao, Zico, Eder, Socrates, Junior to name but a few. Were walking it until Rossi turned up. The qualifier between Italy and Brazil was unbelievable. The 1970 Brazil were unbelievable. This bunch weren't far off, if not better.

  • Comment number 46.

    I have wondered what you look like for so long Stevo and I am pleasantly surprised!

  • Comment number 47.

    On the players were better then arguement:

    4 Years earlier and you've all seen it a million times, but watch the german defending for the hurst goal, centre half just strolls back while the forward tanks it into into the box

    can you really imagine a world class centre back doing that now, or any ecntre back really??

    Not saying the forward players werent equally, if not more talented but defenders did seem to leave more space, and also dive into challanges alot more, which i know from my own experience makes it alot easier to sidestep them.

    Just wanted to throw my tuppence worth into the debate, but to argue the other way, id say no-one now or since at all can place a freekick like zico could, poetry in motion!

  • Comment number 48.

  • Comment number 49.

    Amazing how your blogs are not getting the attention they deserve . No offense to Robbo but seriously your doign a better job imo Jon . Keep it up . Loving every inch of it .

  • Comment number 50.

    What a great Blog! I am approaching 30 so my first memories of the world cup were Italia 90. Which was bloomin awful mostly. I only remember a few games- England v eire(tedious), italy v austria(1 way traffic), Argentina v cameroon(what a shock),cameroon v England(brilliant game), England v germany(a minor classic) and the final(zzzzz). But overall the drama was out-done by the negativity. USA 94 was a fresh contrast with lots of goals and some great players at their peak( Brolin, Baggio, Hagi, Romario, Stoichkov, Bebeto) and the progress of the bulgarians and sweden was great to watch. Shame that the final was a dead-lock mainly due to fatigue and injury.
    1998 i think overall is the best iv`e seen, lots of great players and the knock-out stages were actually eventful and full of fine games (Argentina v England, Nigeria v denmark, Brazil v denmark, Holland v argentina, brazil v holland) and the class of players like Ronaldo, roberto carlos, rivaldo, half the dutch side, zidane, djorkaeff, thuram, lizarazu. The emergence of Owen and beckham. The croat adventure and then the dramatic Ronaldo in or out saga. My favourite world cup.

    2002- This was great also but for differing reasons. Ronaldo`s comeback. There was maybe only 4/5 really good games (brazil v costa rica, brazil v turkey twice, argentina v england, and the final). Awful referees, the big names (zidane,totti,figo et all) all flopping and some unadventurous games in the knock-outs meant for some frustrating games.

    2006-Bit of a disappointment. Again the knock-out phase failed to live up to expected standards and the goal average was down and maybe only italy v germany and mexico v argentina were considered great games. More about the moments this time really. The 26 pass move by argentina v serbia, ronaldo breaking the record, zidanes resurgance and then fall from grace.

    This is how i`d rank them , first being favourite.


  • Comment number 51.

    I have watched World cup since 1982, and my opinion is the 1982 Brailian team may be the closest match to 1970 (though not even close).

    It is always joyful to watch the footage of 1970 world cup. The dazzling skill of Brazilians, Carlos Roberto's perfect goal, the tough defence of England, the amazing contest between italy and west germany, superb save from Banks, numerous brilliant and finest footballers from Europe and South America etc. It is a tournament with countless memorable moments and that still keeps me admiring of players and matches from this tournament though I wasn't even borned!

    Sadly, the standard of world cup has been declining since 1982 (my first world cup as a young child) and hopefully 2010 will make a difference, just like Euro 2008 - another great European championship since 1984.

    Can't think of any so-called world class players like Ronaldo, Messi, Kaka, Robben, Ribery nowsday can match those players in 1970 like Pele, Jairzinho, Moore, Franz Beckenbaur, Muller, Banks, Sepp Mair, Mazzola, etc. These so-called stars are overrated and rip off true soccer fan with monster TV bill nowsday. Hope they play quality football with all their heart to please worldwide soccer fan.

  • Comment number 52.

    50. At 08:44am on 14 May 2010, beautifulbarrettboy wrote:


    This is how i`d rank them , first being favourite.



    Agree with barretboys rankings and the reasons he gave too

    I'm slightly older LOL.... so I would rank 82 and 86 as my number 1 and 2.

    82 Brazil team was an outstanding side. my country, Northern Irelands run at the finals, topping the group, beating the hosts. The France/West Germany semi-final which was a classic.

    86 Maradona at his peak, the France/Brazil game.. The way the Danes performed in the group stages. Great stuff

    90 was dire, dull negative, cynical football with only the England/Germany semi standing out as a truly great game.

    94 saw a more attacking style of football re-emerge (apart from the final). Brazil/Holland and Bulgaria/Germany both great games... i watched this while on holiday in Ibiza.. perhaps has enhanced my perception of it ;)

    98 had some classic games in the knockout stages as mentioned above... the Nigeria/Spain group game also worthy of a mention.

    2002 memorable for in a novelty factor sort of way and 2006 was a great event but a poor tournament (ie football was mainly forgettable)

    I think the earlier tournaments were more memorable as there was a certain amount of fantasy about the teams. The South Americans largely played in South America etc so you weren't used to seeing them on TV week in week out... It was something to look forward too, a touch of the unexpected to an extent.

    Nowadays everyone knows what to expect from whom, what tactics the teams are liable to use etc... its lost a bit of wonder and fantasy for me

  • Comment number 53.

    In my living memory, 86 is the best WC ever... 82 was slightly before my time, however Zico's turn and pass to The Doctor to score... Serginho missing from point blank range... Maradona losing the plot... Cerezo's bonkers pass..TARDELLI!... great highlights.

  • Comment number 54.

    Incidentally, folk who like to reminisce might like this 'little' blog excerpt on some great footballing memories. Scroll down for an 'edited' version :o)

  • Comment number 55.

    Amazing that Jairzinho scored in every match of that 1970 world cup that brazil played and you don't mention that in the blog . it's a record that he scored in every single match of that tournament . in all 3 matches of the group stage against england,Czechoslovakia,romania , then in the quarter final against Peru . Against Uruguay in the semi and against Italy in the final, he scored a total of 7 goals , was 2nd to Muller for the golden boot who scored 10 ... To me, he was the star of that tournament ..

  • Comment number 56.

    Well i know its difficult to mention everything that happened in the World Cup in a single blog . But after doing my research about the 1970 World Cup , i feel that you have missed some very important things about that World Cup that needed to be mentioned in my opinion . They are :

    1. substitutes were allowed for the first time

    2. red and yellow cards were introduced .

    These were the innovations in that World Cup which has changed the game forever .

  • Comment number 57.

    What makes 1970 stand out is so many exceptional things and players that stick in the memory.
    Pele Chesting the ball from a 40 yard pass and volleying it home!
    Pele nearly scoring from 10 yards in his own half.
    Pele dummying the keeper.
    Peles great header saved by Banks.
    Charltons great goal against Portugal.
    Moore never puttting a foot wrong Brazil.
    And the list goes on.

  • Comment number 58.

    '2. red and yellow cards were introduced .'

    I think you are mistaken. They have been around a lot longer. Remember Rattin being sent off in 1966 against England?

    'Charltons great goal against Portugal.'

    That was 1966, cracking shot.

  • Comment number 59.

    1. Wasn't born in 1970 but I'll save my comments on later tournaments for later blogs.

    2. They complain about penalty shootouts nowadays yet they used to toss a coin to decide matches after extra time? That is a joke!

    3. England vs West Germany must have been gutting.

    4. Italy vs West Germany...well I can see why they call it the Game of the Century.

    5. Of course this blog's going to mention England's performances. England is part of Britain which the BBC serves and the memories of any tournament are affected by your team's participation and performance.

    I expect Scotland to get a reasonable amount of attention in the next two blogs for a team that failed to get out of the group stages(and yes I expect England's non-qualification to get a brief mention as well). Bias is part of sport.

  • Comment number 60.

    Thanks for this Jonathan. Great stuff. As is the 1978 piece. Both brought back vivid memories of staying up late and watching the scratchy satellite images beamed back from south America. I can still hear the BBC theme music for Argentina 78.
    Hope you'll forgive a blatant plug, but anyone who wants to learn more about the 1970 World Cup might like to read my book, The Beautiful Team: In Search of Pele and the 1970 Brazilians. (Still on sale at amazon after more than a decade, I'm pleased to say.) Way back in 1997 I travelled around Brazil interviewing almost all the members of that side, Felix, Rivellino, Piazza, Tostao, Carlos Alberto, Gerson, Clodoaldo - and of course the man himself Pele. (Although he was Minister of Sport in Brazil at the time and proved a somewhat elusive prey!) They were all fascinating guys, but what struck me most was how - beneath that seemingly improvised, almost jazz-like football - lay a very organised and rigorous gameplan, most of which revolved around Gerson and his amazing left foot.
    Enjoy this World Cup. Wouldn't surprise me at all if Brazil were to win again. Dunga is a disciplinarian - and a born winner.

  • Comment number 61.

    In the very first World Cups, I guess drawn games were replayed.

    I can see that that is not really feasible, especially nowadays but the penalty shootout is a lottery. For the final game, Championship game, I'd accept co-champions, I really would but the problem is up until that game, you have other shootouts and draws. There really is no way around the problem of deciding the winner.

  • Comment number 62.

    "In my living memory, 86 is the best WC ever... 82 was slightly before my time, however Zico's turn and pass to The Doctor to score... Serginho missing from point blank range... Maradona losing the plot... Cerezo's bonkers pass..TARDELLI!... great highlights."

    '86 in the group stage was a drawers cup and I think subsequent rule changes took effect come 1994 as 1990 is often looked as having a lot of lacklustre play. I think '94 is probably the best quality World Cup. '82 was marred by West Germany's alleged collusion to draw with Austria to eliminate Algeria and the Schumacher tackle on the French attacker Battiston. Unfortunately, I think that is another totally tainted tournament and West Germany at least did not belong in the final. No way is that the "game of the century".

    All that said, 1986 probably is the most memorable tournament for excitement, hand of god, France eliminating Brazil in a shootout in the knockout rounds, the Argentina/West Germany game is really fantastic especially since the Germans fought back from what? A two goal deficit, getting at least one header off of a corner kick and coming close to tying the whole thing up until Diego, Canniglia salted the victory away. Argentina too had great goalkeepers in the past, Burruchaga being one. '86 may have the Denmark TNT team I think they are called. Belgium too being good, all round, yes, that is probably the best.

  • Comment number 63.

    1970 wc was the first I watched I was 10 years old and totally captivated by the greatest team of all time Brazil led by the incomparable Pele the football they played was just magicial rubbish in defence but irresisible going forward. The final was billed as the best defence in Europe against the best attack in the World and Brazil torn them apart simply fantastic I have supported Brazil ever since. The tournament itself was also the best I've ever seen many great matches der bomber proved himself one the best finishers ever Peru were a very entertaining attacking side even England had their best ever team but it was to be the last tournament for those who won it in 66 wc that is.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think that England did pretty well considering the mayhem inflicted on their players during the first game with Romania, whose disgraceful tackling all but crippled several opponents. Belgian referee Loraux was far too indulgent. With today's referees in charge half of them would have been sent off.


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