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The story of the 1998 World Cup

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Chris Bevan | 19:41 UK time, Sunday, 30 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. Today we speak to two men involved in the match of the tournament, and recall when Les Bleus swept all before them.

France, June & July 1998

This was a World Cup that ended with the hosts' finest footballing hour and left everyone guessing about the mystery of Ronaldo's missing minutes - but there was far more to France '98 than just a one-sided final where the Brazilians failed to turn up.

The Dutch gave us more moments to savour but again fell short, while new-boys Croatia announced their arrival with a dazzling run to the semi-finals. England? They left early, but with a new hero offering hope for the future - and a villain to pin all the blame on for their exit.

For one man, however, the tournament was over before it even began. Paul Gascoigne had been the star of England's last World Cup, in Italy eight years earlier, but his lack of fitness and form - possibly down to a fondness for late-night kebabs - saw him fail to make manager Glenn Hoddle's squad. It was a decision that angered many, including Gazza himself, and - not for the first time - he did not exactly hide his emotions.

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Gascoigne was one of the casualties when a squad of 28 was trimmed to a final 22 at the end of a training camp at the La Manga resort in Spain, but Hoddle chose a unique way of letting his players know whether he would be needing them that summer.

Arsenal defender Martin Keown, who had just enjoyed the best season of his life and helped the Gallic-inspired Gunners win the Double, was one of the lucky ones to make the cut. "It was quite a surreal moment," Keown told me, describing a scene that sounds like Big Brother on eviction night. "We were all sat around the pool, waiting for our time to go to see the manager. If a player came back and collected their stuff, they were going to France. If they didn't, they were going home.

"I went into what was left of Hoddle's room after Gazza, as he had smashed the place up. When I was told I was going to my first World Cup I was looking round wondering what had caused the wreckage. We didn't know exactly what had happened at the time because Hoddle didn't tell us."

I had issues too. Watching the previous three World Cups while I grew up had only involved negotiating a later bed-time with mum and dad in 1986 (difficult but possible), wrestling the TV remote off my sister in 1990 (harder) or ignoring impending exams in 1994 (all too easy). This was the first time, as a supposedly mature adult, that I had the problem of work clashing with important games, and I'm afraid to say I handled it with the same sort of professionalism (or lack of it) that put Hoddle off Gazza.

I'd got my first job on a newspaper a few weeks before, and was despatched up to Darlington on the eve of the tournament to begin a six-month course on how to be a journalist (and yes, I know I clearly didn't learn very much!).

So far, so good - but, unfortunately, the conference where we were introduced to our company directors as the latest crop of eager, young (and cheap) trainee reporters overlapped with the opening game - Brazil versus Scotland.

I wasn't missing that for any corporate chin-wag so ducked out during the first biscuit break and got to the nearest pub just in time to see Cesar Sampaio's fourth-minute goal. Sadly, I was rumbled even before John Collins equalised from the spot and summoned back to my meeting, where I was treated like a naughty schoolboy for the remainder of the afternoon.

The day ended just as badly for Scotland, who - in my absence - looked set to hold on for a battling draw against the holders only to lose out to a late and desperately unlucky Tom Boyd own-goal, and a draw with Norway was as good as their World Cup got.

Yet again the Scots failed to get past the first round but England stumbled through to set up what would be the match of the tournament against Argentina in the last 16. This game packed a heck of a lot into 120 pulsating minutes of open play; including 18-year-old Michael Owen's wonder goal, a delightfully-worked Argentina free-kick and, of course, David Beckham's petulant kick at Diego Simeone that saw him sent off after half-time.

"Even before the red card was shown I remember feeling sorry for David because I knew what he had done wouid be the defining moment of the game," Keown, who was watching from the bench at St Etienne's compact Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium, told me ruefully. "Defeat then was always going to be seen as his fault."

That is exactly what happened but only after a penalty shoot-out that anyone who, like me, watched it on TV will recall not just for Carlos Roa's decisive save from David Batty but also Kevin Keegan's unfortunate commentary that preceded it.

England were out on penalties for the third time in eight years but was this more rotten luck or down to a lack of preparation? "We had practiced them, not that it did us much good," then-captain Alan Shearer explained when I met him last week. "The players we wanted to take them were not all still on the pitch.

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"Thankfully, I never missed in a shoot-out (he scored twice in Euro '96 and put away England's first penalty in 1998 too) but the pressure is much greater than taking one in a normal situation. I knew when I walked up against Argentina that there were 20m people watching at home and, believe me, my heart was beating a hell of a lot faster than normal."

Of the other big-guns, only Spain had failed to reach the second round, where France needed the World Cup's first extra-time golden goal to edge past Paraguay. Aime Jacquet's side were top-scorers in the group stages but by now it was becoming clear that, despite being a nation renowned for taking industrial action, the French were lacking a quality striker - and they needed penalties to get past a disappointing Italy side in the quarter-finals despite dominating the match.

Elsewhere, the goals were flying in - but none were better than Dennis Bergkamp's glorious last-gasp winner against Argentina which put the Dutch in the semi-finals. I nearly missed that one too, but in the end caught the very end of the game in what is now a dying breed but has been the last refuge of many a desperate fan down the years - my local high-street TV store. It actually provided the perfect setting: I found myself surrounded by dozens of screens showing seemingly endless replays of Bergkamp bringing down Frank de Boer's perfect 50-yard pass, stepping inside Roberto Ayala and effortlessly volleying past Roa.

Mind you, Rivaldo staked his own claim for goal of the tournament with a cracker for Brazil against Denmark to settle a ding-dong battle in their last-eight clash and Croatia's Davor Suker - who scored six goals in total to take home the Golden Boot - rounded off a shock rout of European champions Germany (who were, in fairness, down to 10 men) to win with a fine solo effort.

That meant the Croats met France in the last four, and they looked odds on to go even further in their first World Cup when Slaven Bilic contrived to get Laurent Blanc sent off before Suker fired them ahead. Enter defender Lilian Thuram, who played 142 times for France between 1994 and 2008 but only scored two goals, both of them in this match to send France through instead.

Brazil, who were at times outplayed by the Netherlands in their semi-final before progressing on penalties, were their opponents in a hotly-anticipated final but that turned out to be a game that saw more drama before it began than it did during the 90 minutes of action.

Ronaldo, Brazil's talisman and top scorer, was left out by coach Mario Zagallo when he issued his first team-sheet 72 minutes ahead of kick-off, but was back in the starting line-up half-an-hour later. There were reports he had been in hospital earlier after having a fit, and rumours - later denied - that he was ill or injured and only reinstated following pressure from the team's sponsors.

Whatever the truth - and only he really knows it - Ronaldo had a stinker of a game, as did his team-mates, and Les Bleus, for whom Zinedine Zidane was majestic, ended up runaway winners.

"It just didn't sink in at the time," Zidane said recently. "At the final whistle I said to myself 'Wow. World champion? When I saw the World Cup, I knew I had fulfilled my dream to hold it in my hands one day - it was mine. It was a magnificent feeling."

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The victory, for a French team that reflected the multi-racial mix of their country, united a nation that was far from football-mad and sparked weeks of celebration across the land.

As manager Aime Jacquet would later say: "There was that great feeling of a shared moment spreading through the public and not just among football fans - the whole of France took to the streets."

Watch Bergkamp's stunner for the Dutch against Argentina (UK only)
Watch Sunday Oliseh's screamer that sunk Spain (UK only)
Watch France fight back against Croatia to reach 1998 final (UK only)

Let me know your memories of 1998 - I hope trying to watch it didn't land you in trouble too. On Wednesday - with the help of some England players who took part in another brave failure - we look back at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, when Beckham-mania was at its peak and Ronaldo took glorious retribution for his failure in France.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    2 points:

    - when you mention Keegan's commentary re Batty's penalty miss, the link takes you to a page for the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, with no mention of that game or the commentary.

    - the links to World Cup highlights proclaims - Watch Croatia upset France to reach 1998 final. That's just sloppy.

  • Comment number 2.

    Having 32 teams qualify for the World Cup Finals for the first time meant that there were plenty of meaningless matches in the first stage as the minnows were weeded-out.

    England had a very strong squad indeed for France 1998 but let themselves down badly with poor discipline on the pitch.

    Brazil looked odds-on to win the Final against France but gave a very mediocre performance to allow the French, who were not without talent themselves, to coast to the win.

    Croatia did very well indeed to finish third and Davor Šuker was the tournament's top goalscorer with 6 goals.

    Full match details and statistics from France 1998 available here:

    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/FIFAWorldCupFinals1998France.html

  • Comment number 3.

    ya_bass_heid

    Sorry, I've just changed both those links... for the former, it was an ITV game so I can't direct you to a clip of the Keegan commentary itself I'm afraid.

    But it went as follows, starting around about the same time as Batty (who Keegan had signed for Newcastle a couple of years earlier) started his run-up:

    Brian Moore: Now, you know him better than anybody Kevin. Do you back him to score - quickly, yes or no?
    KK: Yes.

    You know the rest... but I don't think Brian actually did KK many favours there by putting him on the spot (sorry) like that!

  • Comment number 4.

    i remember being a football mad 6 year old going absolutely mental when John Collins scored against the Brazilian superstars, pity thats my only memory of my country in a World Cup haha

  • Comment number 5.

    That story from Martin Keown is ace - I can just picture the scene!!

    http://the-fa-premier-league.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 6.

    Kinda sad that we don't have a player of Owen's goal scoring ability, technique and pace nowadays, instead we have mid table strikers alongside Rooney.

    Imagine if Rooney was injured, how Crouch Defoe Bent and Heskey sound up front. Petrifying.

  • Comment number 7.

    Chris, you mentioned that "every child gets a World Cup". France 98 was mine. I had all the wall charts, the posters, the books, the memorabilia, etc. I got up in the ridiculous hours of the morning (as I currently live in Sydney) for every single game, glued to the TV.

    I remember bawling my eyes out when England crashed out but that wasn't the only occasion I shed a tear during the competition. I still remember the final, the TV broke down and my brother and I couldn't watch it. I remember my old man frantically attempting to fix it, managing only to get the VCR working, meaning we were only able to tape it. We then faced an agonising wait for the serviceman, who could only repair the TV that afternoon.

    Being dragged along by my folks to the shops up the road, my brother and I walked through the centre with our eyes shut and fingers in our ears. No radios were allowed to be switched on. The phone was taken off the hook. No contact was made with the outside world until we were able to watch that tape.

    I still remember high-fiving each other as the TV came on late that afternoon; we'd gone the whole day without hearing the result. It's so predictable what came on almost straight away while the tape was being re-wound. News flash; France win the World Cup Final 3-0.

    Cue the tears. Thank you, National Nine bloody News.

    Anyway. What a great competition. Beat the pants off Italia 90 and that garbage played in the US 4 years prior in my opinion. That game against Argentina consisted of my favourite football memory of all time (Owen's goal), followed by my most hated (Beckham's moment of madness, although to say that red card was harsh would be a ridiculous understatement). I often say that a good World Cup has to include some sort of controversy and unfortunately for England, along with the mystery involving Ronaldo in the final (I heard everything from he contracted the flu to he took some sort of tranquiliser and swallowed his tongue), the Beckham incident provided it.

    The fact that France then went on to win the European Championship two years later proved that they were rightful World Champions.

    The only thing that would have topped off this Cup would have been if Australia had managed to overcome Iran in qualifying.

  • Comment number 8.

    At 11:10pm on 30 May 2010, Rorb wrote:
    Imagine if Rooney was injured, how Crouch Defoe Bent and Heskey sound up front. Petrifying.


    It might come as a great shock to you (and probably a great many other people too), but Peter Crouch has actually got a far better strike-rate for England than Wayne Rooney.

    Crouch has scored 21 goals in 38 matches for England, giving him a strike-rate of a goal for every 1.81 games played.

    Rooney has 25 goals in 60 matches, which gives him a strike-rate of a goal for every 2.4 games played.

    What's even more remarkable is the fact that many of Crouch's England appearances have been as a used sub, while almost all of Rooney's have been as a starter playing the entire 90 minutes.

    Peter Crouch's 21 England goals have come from 2,094 minutes on the pitch. This gives him an average of a goal scored for every 100 minutes played.

    Wayne Rooney's 25 England goals have come from 4,247 minutes on the pitch. This gives him an average of a goal scored for every 170 minutes played.

    During England's two recent matches against Mexico & Japan, Crouch managed a goal and an assist in the 45 minutes playing time he was alloted by Capello, while Rooney came-up empty from the full 180 minutes on the pitch.

    Full details & statistics of the England provisional World Cup 2010 squad of 30 available here:

    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/England_World_Cup_2010_Squad.html

  • Comment number 9.

    To #7 - carefreecoors

    How can you start off stating that France 98 was your first world
    cup, but then go on and say:
    "Anyway. What a great competition. Beat the pants off Italia 90 and that garbage played in the US 4 years prior in my opinion"

    Watching a world cup's highlights a few years after the event can never allow
    you to compare it to a tournament you've actually watched in realtime. A world
    cup is about more than just the goals, it's about the atmosphere and the anticipation
    that only occurs durig the tournament itself.

    My memory of this game is going to watch the England - Argenina
    match at my
    best mates house when I was 16/17. It was a game which had such drama, with owen'
    amazing goal, he beckham
    red card, the desperate attempt to cling on with 10 men into extra time and penalties. I lost my voice cheering at the tv during that game and despite the eventual outcome, it is one of the most exciting England world
    cup games I've seen. Up there with the England Germany match in 1990.

  • Comment number 10.

    @carefreecoors
    Wasn't the final an evening match meaning that the nine o clock news would not have even been on because of the beebs coverage of the game?

  • Comment number 11.

    Owen's wonder goal? Strangely came just after he'd dived to win a penalty and the Argies were too scared to go near him for fear he'd do it again.

    Still, justice done in the end...again.

    It's amazing the difference in quality for England from 96 & 98 to today. They had 4 or 5 top quality strikers and class throughout their team. Look at the squad today. Just watch - they'll go and win it now.

    Worked before - dropped Greaves for donkey Hurst.

    If only it were all over.

  • Comment number 12.

    To #8 - if you are so keen on statistics, check out who Crouch has scored his goals against. Case closed.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why did I let myself do it? This was the only and only time (I quickly learnt) that I actually thought that England could go all the way. The squad was possibly the strongest that it had been in my lifetime and despite the defeat to Romania, for some strange reason I still thought we could do it. Then came Argentina and a barbecue that I will never forget as lager was spilt many times throughout an intense two hours or so.
    Paul Scholes, Paul Scholes...that was the moment for me - how many times for Man Utd have you put those chances away. No blame to the penalty takers - at that point the result was inevitable - and I am desperately trying not to mention that little flick.

  • Comment number 14.

    The Argentina game for me really stands out only for it only to be spoiled by an awful referee who was only interested in making a name for himself. The Owen goal was something special, the Beckham sending off a joke and then having a Sol Campbell goal disallowed for nothing really left a bitter taste in the mouth.

  • Comment number 15.

    Plenty of bitter sweet memories on this one (for an England fan) - THAT night in Rome (Ince with blood on his head), joy of Becks first international goal against Colombia (what a stunning free kick, already his trade mark for United by then), the dilemma of Hoddle to field either Becks or Darren Anderton - who both scored when he played them both vs. Colombia, poor defending in the 2 Romanian goals, Owen's Romania super-sub goal, and then THAT solo goal vs. Argentina, Becks silly flick, Campbell's brilliant disallowed header, penalties (again, after Italia 90 and Euro 96).

    Zidane's redemption in the final after his earlier around red card vs. Saudi. Bergkamp's goal of the tournament vs. Argentina (you can almost hear the screams of England fans around the world!). Kluivert's brilliant header equalier vs. Brazil in the semis. Crotia's surprise passage to the semi's. Laurent Blanc's golden goal in second round (first ever in World Cup history, I believe).

    One of the few World Cups where the best team did win the tournament.

  • Comment number 16.

    @10 exiled spur. He meant National Nine news which is a news program in Australia.

    This wasnt my first world cup but was my first world cup that was watched mainly from the pub. Although i am not an England fan i remember the atmosphere in my home town in England (and many others I am sure) was superb and I embraced it and loved every minute of it. I was eventually disappointed with the way England went out especially after Campbell's disallowed goal. Was this the last England team to play good attractive football?

    I also had backed Holland to win it and was gutted with their exit too.

    Great memories from a great world cup

  • Comment number 17.

    Nº 12 Artshade - Peter Crouch has scored all his goals against the teams we have played against. It would be impossible for him to do otherwise.

  • Comment number 18.

    I had to work during the Eng-Arg game but came home to watch the recording, not knowing the result. I asked my dad if it was safe to come in and he said -its extra time, come in.I did and found my dad lying on the floor, flapping a leg around limply and shouting "how the ·$%&%$ can you %&/&%% get sent off for that! %&/$%%& stupid referee!". Didn't have any idea what he was on about. Coming from a good family it was a surprise to hear my dad swearing so articulately.

  • Comment number 19.

    It's so wierd to hear Keegan talking about Owen as an 18 year old going 'what a player he could be when he grows up'. Never really fufilled his full potential because of injuries the poor kid.

  • Comment number 20.

    France 98 was going so well after a few days because of the most unlikely thing imaginable at a World Cup: the referees all applied common sense.

    Then Blatter opened his big trap to complain that they weren't strict enough, a rash of red cards followed and the tournament was ruined.

  • Comment number 21.

    With Sweden having failed to better Scotland and Austria in the qualifiers, my enduring memories of WC98 are of the exploits of our Scandinavian brother countries. With Morocco winning against Scotland, Norway needed to beat Brazil, which hadn't lost a group-stage game since 1966, to go through. Unfortunately, Brazil took the lead with 10 minutes left, but the Norwegians equalised through Tore Andre Flo. Then, this [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] happened... Just listen to the commentators.

    And then Denmark, of course, who crushed fancied Nigeria 4-1 in the second round game, before narrowly losing the quarterfinal to Brazil 3-2 in one of the games of the tournament.

  • Comment number 22.

    #12 - Artshade, a goal is a goal. Crouch has a better strike-rate than rooney, period.infact, it is 98% likely that in all games that crouch has scored, rooney has played but the reverse may not be true......the rule of sub-sets

  • Comment number 23.

    I still believe that this was the strongest England squad in my lifetime (inc. 1990), just look through that team and compare it to 2010. Not saying we have a bad team now but 1998 could have been a bit special.

    Other highlights - Des Lynam at his absolute peak, Bergkamp's genius, and as I am just too young to remember 82 in any detail the most exciting Brazil team I have seen.

    I would rate 98 very high on my list of World cups.

  • Comment number 24.

    Why is there no story of the 1990 world cup? or am I missing the link?

  • Comment number 25.

    France 98 was the World Cup i really enjoyed although i was in high school.USA 94 was being shown at wee hours of the morning which made it difficult for me. France 98 was shown in the evening, just as we are taking supper, till bed time. i used to watch all games including delayed matches.thats also the last time i said goodbye to betting after i lost a bet in the Nigeria-Denmark game...well all of u can guess where my bet was. The Oranje was a great team...marvelous.Kluivert, Bergkamp, Overmars et al at their best.

  • Comment number 26.

    A good tournament. The old pro Simeone getting Beckham sent off, I think he went up to him to put him off just before he buried the penalty in the 2002 match. Holland and Croatia were good to watch. I went to Paris for the weekend of the 3rd and 4th place play-offs. Coudn't get / afford tickets for either. The final was on the Sunday, the champs elysees was a sea of blue / yellow and blue colours, great atmosphere. Watched the final in a bar nearby, the place just went off when at the end, fire engines and police cars driving around with sirens and lights on, waving flags, if anyone needed the emergency services they were in trouble!

  • Comment number 27.

    A memorable tournament in all sorts of ways.

    1. As an England fan, the excitement in the build-up was huge. We'd waited 8 years since Italia 90 and had performed really well at Euro 96. There was a real sense that we could go far.

    2. Goals - Owen against Argentina, Bergkamp against Argentina. Two of the best goals ever at the World Cup finals.

    3. Incidents - Beckham's sending off, the mystery surrounding Ronaldo before and during the final, first ever World Cup Golden Goal.

    4. Shocks - Croatia beating Germany in the quarter-finals, Nigeria beating Spain in the group stage, Romania beating England.

    http://twoyellowcards.co.uk/

  • Comment number 28.

    My 8th World cup and one I was really looking forward too after USA 94' as at that tournament some new faces appeared to challenge the dreary procession of Italy, Germany etc's' cynical progress to the later stages, and usually the final. Interestingly, all three of the new challengers in those two World cups came from former Eastern Bloc countries........

    Not to mention England had pretty good side that looked capable of playing football AND progressing. Sadly, it was not to be............

    The tournament started off well, with some great football, some hard but fair games, and was really shaping up to be something special - but then Platini and Blatter stepped in.

    Platini complained about the 'weak refereeing' and too many 'fierce tackles going in unpunished' then Blatter, instead of allowing refs to get on with their job, issued his infamous decree stating that refs needed to crack down. Cue a flurry of cards, and the World Cup becoming the, by now, all to familiar drudge in the knock out stages, blighted by histrionics and diving.

    The final though, was the most bizarre ever. The controversy over Ronaldo kept us all on the edge of our seats, and the game itself will go down as the one finally overshadowed by corporate greed - if the rumours are correct. Meanwhile, on the pitch, France finally threw off the weight of expectation and tore a confused looking Brazil apart.

    Finally, as we never seem to escape England issues, the reason why Peter Crouch causes so much controversy is simple - he doesn't have a 'great' (like Heskey who causes similar concerns) scoring record in domestic football. Added to that, his scoring record against 'ranked sides' (FIFA all time ranking) is dismal. He has, to date, NEVER scored against any of the top ranked sides, has scored only twice against sides that are 'second tier' and as such the vast majority of those goals have come against teams that England once upon a time rarely met, and when they did the scores were pretty hefty in England's favour. If you doubt, then go and look his record up, it's easily done.

    So, well done to him for scoring against the likes of Azerbaijan, but we aren't going to be meeting the likes of Azerbaijan in the World Cup, and certainly not in the later stages.

    That's why people (outside the media) are wary of taking Crouchs record on face value.

    However, I would still take him, as he gives England another option, and in his defence, too often England don't score goals against the 'lesser' light's, and if that's what he excels at, give the guy a game.

    For me, more important than anything else, is England's inability to play passing football. A fact highlighted in recent games, and brought into sharp focus by a World cup in which England did that, and did it well.

  • Comment number 29.

    Spain against Nigeria was a cracking game. Even better was Bora Milutinovic's (Nigerian coach) press conference later on in the group stages. Both Spain and Bulgaria had lost to Nigeria and drawn with Paraguay. Going into the last game Spain and Bulagria had to beat each other to have any hope, but a Paraguay victory would put Paraguay through regardless. In response to Spanish journalists when asked if Nigeria would try to beat Paraguay, Milutinovic replied that the players had a great debt to Bulgarian football. They would give their all for the football team of Bulgaria (this is the gist of it, can't remember the exact words).

    Spain beat Bulgaria 6-1 but a second string Nigeria lost 3-1 to Paraguay.

  • Comment number 30.

    How is the BBC commentary along the lines of...
    "Is he going to join Messrs Waddle, Pearce and Southgate.....Yes, he is!"
    ...any less "unfortunate" than what Keegan said on ITV?


  • Comment number 31.

    The 94 final was the only memory i had of a WC, my interest in football didnt come until i was around 6. I was 9 when USA94 was on. Then the 1998 WC came along, ive obviously got three main memories of that cup... Sco v Bra, Eng v Arg and Fra v Bra.

    I dont know why the scotland game is there in my head, but for some reason it just sticks as i remember hendry scoring against brazil. England and Aregentina, well i think we all know that one is yet another horrible memory of a England World cup story. That game led me to anger and disgust towards the Argentines, i disliked them for so long but once again apreciate their football (I grew up basically) after batty missed the pen i went crazy, i hit the floor, punched it to be honest, and broke three knuckles lol, What a memory!

    The final, well just like everyone else i was in shock with how bad brazil were. I grew up with people around me saying how amazing the brazilians were, at that point in my life, i thought meh, their nothing special.

    All in all, a awesome WC i remember well, the WC that opened my eyes and got me so hooked on internatial football, ive taken two weeks off work unpaid for this WC.

  • Comment number 32.

    6. At 11:10pm on 30 May 2010, Rorb wrote:

    Kinda sad that we don't have a player of Owen's goal scoring ability, technique and pace nowadays, instead we have mid table strikers alongside Rooney.

    Imagine if Rooney was injured, how Crouch Defoe Bent and Heskey sound up front. Petrifying.


    I'm sorry mid table strikers? crouch and Defoe? I'll give you bent and heskey, but was it me or did spurs finish above Liverpool, who arguably have the best striker at this coming world cup? that's right they did. Oh and they finished 4th wasn't it? with Defoe and crouch scoring some of the goals to get them there.

    I'm sorry but in my humble opinion, Rooney has effectively neutered any other striker plans we have. It's always, always who works well with rooney. But, what will happen if god forbid, he gets stretcherd off against USA? back up plans fabio? oh that's right, you haven't tried any.
    stick Defoe and Crouch together and goals will come, not always from them, but from their work together. Remember 66 was won without the help of the best english striker of his day. Greavsie... But we will have to just sit back and watch, as fabio is the one getting the big bucks, not me

  • Comment number 33.

    A far better tournament than 90 or 94. A bit like 1982 in that Brazil should have won the competition but didn't. Ronaldo looked incredible in the early rounds.

    Croatia were excellent, particularly against Germany. Scotland looked to be in with a shout of going through, but it all fell apart against Morocco.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 34.

    About the Crouch/Rooney debate...

    I'm sorry but statistics can be very misleading. I always think that people who find it difficult to judge a player fall back upon statistics because they rely on that to rate players.

    I think Malcolm MacDonald once scored 5 goals against Cyprus in an international. 5 goals from 1 cap, a better strike rate than Pele. Maybe he is better than Pele. See what I mean?

    I think anyone who watches football properly knows that Peter Crouch is nowhere near as talented a player as Rooney. Comparing their strike rates is absurd. It's not a very good point to make. Now if you want to compare Crouch to Darren Bent or Heskey and make a note of how he has made the most of his opportunities with England, even from sub appearances...

    It's a shame that Beckham got sent off at France 98 because I would argue that between 1997 and 2003 Beckham was at the peak of his powers. If we'd beaten Argentina in that very difficult 2nd round game England might have gone on to do something. It was also a pity that Keegan was our manager in Euro 2000 (beckham was our best player, made our 2 goals against Portugal and Shearer's winner against Germany) and then Beckham got that metatarsal injury in 2002. Beckham really had no luck when it came to England, did he? After 2003 Beckham went into a slow gradual physical decline, still a fine player up to today but no longer at the same level as an individual match winner.

  • Comment number 35.

    Also about France 98:

    Zidane was not as 'majestic' in this World Cup as people imagine he was. He got sent off for stamping early on in the tournament, I remember. He wasn't really brilliant for France until the final. They scraped past Paraguay with a goal from Blanc, and relied on Thuram's two goals to beat Croatia.

    France 98 belonged to Ronaldo & Rivaldo for Brazil (until the final), Dennis Bergkamp and Davor Suker. They were the individual stars of this tournament.

    Euro 2000 was Zidane's tournament. He was absolutely magnificent in that one, at the peak of his powers.

  • Comment number 36.

    11,

    I am glad you pointed it out. That Owen goal is overrated. It is obvious that Ayala, who was a heavily overrated defender, was too scared to go near him. Chamot, the first defender, hardly made an effort either.

  • Comment number 37.

    The Owen goal is not overrated, it's an excellent run and finish. Ayala and Chamot were worried about Owen's pace, of course. Roberto Ayala was an excellent defender too, with Valencia and the Argies. People keep spouting off about things that are 'overrated' but it depends what you're comparing something to. It doesn't invalidate the quality of Owen's goal or make Ayala rubbish.

  • Comment number 38.

    I remember at the age of 16 being front row of a pub in town with my best mate draped in all of our England flags and watching the England v Argentina match. Electic atmosphere and a real introduction to World Cup football after the debacle of 94 qualifying and being too young to remember Italia90.

    Owen's goal will undoubtedly be forevered remebered but the enduring memory for me will be Campbells dissallowed goal. The pub was in a frenzy of hysterics and jubilation with only me and my best mate at the front seeming to be the only ones who acknowledge that the goal had been dissalowed and that the Argies were mounting a counter.

    The current team is, in my opinion, the best collection of players we have had for many years in all areas apart from strikers. What would you give to have Shearer, Sheringham, Owen and Sir Les in their pomp.

  • Comment number 39.

    You knew England were going to lose that penalty shoot-out simply because of the lack of decent penalty takers they had left on the pitch. Beckham was sent-off, Scholes, Le Saux and Anderton already subbed - I mean...David Batty to take the all important 5th kick!? Not much better choice than Gareth Southgate in Euro'96 was it?

    What's amazing is to think of Beck's incredible 'media rehabilitation' post '98 especially after suffering such headlines as the classic 'Ten Brave Lions, One Stupid Boy'...and how much he was pilloried throughout the entire country. There's nobody as fickle as footie fans I suppose.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'll always remember the 98 for Bergkamps goal, absolute genius

  • Comment number 41.

    Being 10 years old at the time, too young for 1994, this 1998 was MY World Cup and i'll never forget any minute of it, I still think of the 90s as my decade, when I fell in love with and consequently ate, slept and drunk football and i'll never forget seeing some of the era's greatest and most exciting players (Valderrama, Stoitchkov, Bergkamp) strutting their stuff alongside players who I would grow up with and would go on to dominate the next decade and subsequent World Cups emerge (Beckham, Owen, Raul, Henry etc). And every World Cup needs a bunch of plucky underdogs and who better than the Reggae Boyz Jamaica with one Robbie Earle leading the way. Fantastic World Cup in every way!

  • Comment number 42.

    I remember I was 10 in 1998 & it was my first world cup.Back then I had two favorite footballers playing in it,ROBERTO BAGGIO & BATISTUTA.My homeland BANGLADESH never played a world cup but I had the pics of Argentinian football team & Batistuta all over my living room.The whole world cup was so amazing & breathtaking.I remember the exciting group matches, ITALY vs CHILE(2-2), NIGERIA VS SPAIN(3-2), NETHERLANDS VS MEXICO(2-2)..& ZIZOU's Red card against SAUDIA ARABIA....In that world cup,even group matches were so exciting & full of attacking style of football which continued throughout the finals..In such excitement I even injured my right ankle while playing a bit of indoor football in my room..But,the last two world cups actually disappointed me,those were just shocking..I hope this one will be better if not as good as that of 1998.

  • Comment number 43.

    At 39. It's not fans. No one is as fickle as the media. Most people react to what the media say and so, sadly few people think for themselves. People always jump on board the media bandwagon like sheep. The headlines in the tabloid newspapers usually help form opinion.

  • Comment number 44.

    #34 - subterranean, no one is comparing Rooney to Crouch but sometimes, stats dont lie.if rooney plays against a bogus team and doesnt score but when crouch comes in as a sub he scores, you got to give credit where due.may be to put it better, rooney's goalscoring for club is excellent and crouch's goalscoring for country is excellent.its also good for you to note that in world cups and indeed all cup competitions, matches are won by goal poachers rather than wonderful players....correct me if am wrong.example, an italy team with gilardinho as key striker won the 2006 world cup even though he's bogus.does italy really possess a striker?

  • Comment number 45.

    Have to agree with number 35, it was actually vomit inducing that Zidane was considered the best player in that tournament, as usual the media going off on adulations of one good performance. That tournament belonged to the Brazilians, Croats and Dutch. All 3 played some magnificent football, it's a shame that the best striker I have ever seen will be remembered for his is he playing is he not playing moment rather than the majestic tournament he had then and 4 years later.

  • Comment number 46.

    Crazy Romanians all bleaching their hair....

  • Comment number 47.

    As others have said a great goal by Bergkamp in a good game with Argentina. Liked Zidane but loved Davor Suker.

    Even as a Scotland fan I have to say that I felt very sorry for David Batty and his penalty miss. Not the most skilful of players to put it mildly but always an good honest professional and you felt sorry for the guy. Well I did! I remember the Keegan comment and it was an unfortunate 'kiss of death'.

    As for the prima ballerina, the 'never ever one of the greats' that was and is Dvvid Beckham, laughed my socks off when he was ordered off.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 43 Subterranean

    Brilliant mate, spot on.

    Too many "headline readers"

  • Comment number 49.

    Subterranean wrote: It's not fans. No one is as fickle as the media

    Fair point - most of the media do change their opinion like the wind - take the over-reaction to yesterday's friendly..England are either World beaters or total chumps, but I do remember those pictures of Beckham 'guys' being strung up on street lamp posts by irate supporters back in '98. You are right though - Becks' image being so media friendly plus Fergie's backing at the time no doubt saved his career - wouldn't imagine the likes of Batty coming back from anything similar, not that his talent was equatable.

    As for Rooney even without his goals, which hopefully will come - he does so much else for the team and seems pretty much to be the only one who cares as much as the fans - he's worth including on that factor alone.

  • Comment number 50.

    This is my favourite World Cup so far (from 1990 forward, don't remember much of 86) for many reasons:

    1. Finally, a new winner to add to Brazil, Italy, Germany etc...

    2. Best. Goal. Ever. Bergkamp against the Argies, no other even comes close.

    3. Great games, great individual moments (Owen against Argentina, Suker, Thuram's goals of fate)

    4. Great final - the Brazilians deserved to lose three times before this one (especially against the Dutch - Kluivert missed three sitters) but didn't so justice was done.

    5. The first look at the real Zidane on the world stage, skillful, great game reader, petulant - one of (if not the) best in the world.

    Loved it. One year later I moved to France, ended up staying almost 8 years (Euro 2000 great, 2002 no so much).

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm a referee so I don't normally whinge about decisions but the Beckham sending off and Sol Campbell's disallowed goal were really, really harsh. I've disliked Shearer ever since because his unecessary raised arm gave the ref the flimsiest excuse to disallow it.

  • Comment number 52.

    Only being 4 in 1990, '98 was the first (and sadly only) World Cup where I was lucky enough to see Scotland compete. I can remember the euphoria when Collins converted his penalty, and my Dad warning that scoring would only made them mad! Had it not been for a Tom Boyd OG, Scotland would have held the world Champions in the opening game of the World Cup. Stuff that dreams are made of!

    Sadly it was not to be. Despite drawing with a very decent Norwegian team, we collapse in true Scottish style against the much unfancied Morocco. I sat and watched the TV screen, dejected, not quite old enough to realise that this would be my lot in life as a member of the Tartan Army.

    However, there is always an abundance of joy on offer in the World Cup. Most of you won't appreciate it, but highlights include Romania beating England, and Argentina putting England out. (Sorry guys, but I was 12, and if Scotland can't win, then the next best thing is seeing England lose!) The Reggae Boyz were a breath of fresh air as well, and nothing to do with football, but how good was the song 'Carnival De Paris'?

  • Comment number 53.

    @ 12. At 08:15am on 31 May 2010, artshade wrote:

    To #8 - if you are so keen on statistics, check out who Crouch has scored his goals against. Case closed.

    .....

    And who exactly has Wayne Rooney scored against, apart from maybe Russia and Argentina, not exactly great teams. It's all relative, Crouch will get you goals when you need them, Rooney will be the centre point of the attack.

    Mark my words... Crouch will be a hero this summer!

  • Comment number 54.

    52: Rendez-vous 98 was even better though! :)

    OK...'98. By this point I was in Year 10 at a secondary school in the London burbs. Euro 96 had provided some very good memories and even though we'd ditched Terry Venables in favour of Glenn Hoddle, we'd qualified at the first time of asking despite being in the same group as Italy. Scotland also made it, everything was good in the footballing world.

    This was my first World Cup as an England fan. Pre tournament I felt that we'd win all three of our group game, follow that up with either Croatia or Jamaica in the 2nd round and then have to deal with Germany in the quarter. Wasn't going to take anything for granted there. Brazil were surely the team to beat.

    Opening game. Scotland vs Brazil. Very impressed with the Scotland side - Jim Leighton had stepped out of the football history books to be part of a great performance. That was followed by a decent display vs a solid Norway side...and just when I thought we'd see a Scotland team in the knockout stages...the less said about the Morrocco game the better.

    On to the Three Lions. My first jaw dropper was when I checked the fixture schedule and found that our opening match against Tunisia was early afternoon on a schoolday! Even now I don't know which FIFA moron came up with putting a match on between a European and African side in Europe at that time of day. Well my best mate came up with a petition to get the final period of school cancelled that day. We got a fair number of signitures...but the headmaster had other ideas.

    Anyway on the day itself I taped the match only to find out that morning that the first half would be screened during the lunch hour. Munching lunch very fast I enter five mins or so into the match. Just as it comes up to half time with only a couple of minutes left in the lunch hour..."SHEARER! SHEARER! SHEARER!". I then have to bolt for a science test, catch the second half on tape when I get home and of course a few guys bunked that day.

    The other two group games were evening matches that I both watched at home...how we lost that Romania game can only be explained by the fact that Hoddle didn't make use of Owen soon enough. Everyone at that point had seen him in action for Liverpool and knew how good he was. Led to some tension for the Columbia game(watched with first glass of beer) but that proved to be pretty smooth.

    However at that point even I knew that we'd shot ourselves in the foot with the Romania defeat. That left us having to deal with the Argies in the 2nd round and while part of me knew that we were too good to go out at that stage in theory. The fact was that I never really fancied our chances against what was a damn good Argie.

    In the end we did very well though even as a United fan I felt annoyed at Becks doing what he did. When Batty missed that pen...well I've rarely felt more gutted as a football fan. It was such a tense match.

    What annoyed me more was Hoddle's rambling excuses post-match though. The fact is, the squad that we had should have done better than it did and the fact that it didn't is largely down to the fact that we wound up having to replace Venables with Hoddle after Euro 96 who was definately a step down. We had the players(that was proven at Euro 96 and that's forgetting about the young Becks and Owen) but Hoddle didn't know how to use them.

    In the meantime, other memories from that tournament.

    Holland taking the mick out of South Korea in the group stages.

    Watching a zzz fest in the group stages between Spain and Bulgaria who were already out of the group stages by that point.

    A very classy Chille side. Their 2nd round match vs Brazil was class.

    Watching Denmark hammer Nigeria in the 2nd round and wanting to wait till the match was finished before I double checked homework with Mum. Later on my Dad asks what the score was. I say "4-0 Denmark - this game's pretty much over". "Then go upstairs and look over homework with Mum".

    Watching Holland vs Argentina at my sister's place in Bristol and my then-two year old niece seemingly clapping Bergkamp's goal!

    Having decided not to bother with Germany vs Croatia as I thought it would be a one-sided German win, turning on the TV to find Croatia 3-0 up.

    Completely underestimating France. They had enough familiar faces but I was surprised to see them in the semis. Wasn't surprised to see them beat Croatia to make the final after that but then...

    ...the great Ronaldo mystery. He was undoubtedly the best individual player in the world at that time but Brazil fielded a zome clone of him in that match and it blatently affected the rest of the team. Credit to Zidane and co for taking advantage though. Looking back, the French team of that era was serious quality.

    Des Lynam quoting Rudyard Kipling when it was all over.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hello everyone!

    I would really like to point you all to the way of Alan Shearer´s ´Scouting for England´column where Alan in all his wisdom has picked his 23 man squad for the World Cup.

    At the top of the article Alan decides to take all 5 strikers to the World Cup. It could be argued that this is stupidity in itself but for him to conclude his ´piece by saying he would go with a 4-5-1 formation confirms him to be what some would term a clown. ONE STRIKER PLAYING, 4 on the bench, more midfielders, less back up for midfield. WOW Alan!

    Turning down medals at Manchester United and becoming manager at the Newcastle circus along with this basic mathematical error shows why you comments on football aren´t valid let alone worth of a piece on a sports website.

    Apologies for commenting below this article but the BBC wisely did not allow any comment below Alan genius.

    Rant over

  • Comment number 56.

    Besided what everyone else already said I remember this World Cup for the extraordinary skills displayed by Jay-Jay Okocha. He was head and shoulders above anyone else regarding dribbling and technique. Shame that Nigeria imploded vs Denmark after a good group phase.

    Another player who impressed was Jose Luis Chilavert who kept a clean sheet all the way, only to concede with minutes to play in extra time vs France.

  • Comment number 57.

    Can people stop going on about Crouch. Who has Rooney scored against? Lampard? Gerrard? Any English player? Who's scored against Brazil? Who's scored against Italy? Argentina? Germany? Spain? Somehow I doubt many of our players are prolific against the best nations.

    And finally, how many times has Crouch played against a top nation? Case closed.

    And on another note, when you dive against Argentina, frankly, it's not even cheating!

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    98 world cup was great watching scotland. john collins scoring against brazil 1-0 up then went downhill just the usual rollercoster.Zidane was ace

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 60.

    @57. This is the same Crouch that's played against Brazil, Argentina, Germany (twice), Spain (twice), Portugal and France amongst others, and failed to score against any of them? Bearing in mind that no, we did lose all of those games, and yes, others did score?

    As before, he cannot score against teams a bit of star quality in defence.

    As for some people claiming Rooney cannot score against the best........... *rolls eyes*

  • Comment number 61.

    'As for some people claiming Rooney cannot score against the best........... *rolls eyes*'

    Yeh go on on then, who?

    One against Argentina in a friendly - other than that I can't think who. Plus he didn't score at the last World Cup when we played Paraguay, Sweden, Trinidad and Ecuador did he? Whereas Crouch did. It's no good scoring against just the good teams and not prolifically anyway. Quantity is important at international level - and in that area Crouch is much better. I'm not saying Crouch is as good a player as Rooney because of course he isn't, but to knock him for scoring against who he is played against is pathetic. How many of the other players perform against the big nations anyway? Since we won the World Cup 44 years ago we have very rarely beaten the big nations and at the World Cup we have only beaten France in 82 and Argentina (with a penalty) in 2002. So are you blaming Crouch for this?

    And if he was given decent service he would score. Crouch isn't going to dribble round the whole team - so it's the midfielder's job to give him something to feed on. Fact is though we are not good at getting crosses in and consistently play poorly against the top teams. And what other strikers have we got who will do/have done much better?

    And to pick further at your stats - Argentina he defo came on as a sub and I very much doubt he started against those teams you mention.

  • Comment number 62.

    Some people really need to think before they comment.

    9. At 07:31am on 31 May 2010, Duncan wrote:
    To #7 - carefreecoors

    "How can you start off stating that France 98 was your first world
    cup, but then go on and say:
    "Anyway. What a great competition. Beat the pants off Italia 90 and that garbage played in the US 4 years prior in my opinion"

    Watching a world cup's highlights a few years after the event can never allow you to compare it to a tournament you've actually watched in realtime. A world cup is about more than just the goals, it's about the atmosphere and the anticipation that only occurs durig the tournament itself."


    Can you point out exactly where in my post I called France 98 my first World Cup? I said it was "mine", big difference to my first. Being born in 86, I witnessed Italia 90 and USA 94 but never really got caught up in the atmosphere until 1998. Please read a post thoroughly before attempting to point out errors.

    10. At 08:13am on 31 May 2010, exiledspur wrote:
    @carefreecoors
    "Wasn't the final an evening match meaning that the nine o clock news would not have even been on because of the beebs coverage of the game?"

    Perhaps this was the case in the UK. I clearly said I resided in Sydney. Again, try actually reading what I wrote; thanks.

    Nonetheless, I am really enjoying these blogs Chris and I can’t wait for the Korea / Japan 2002 instalment.

  • Comment number 63.

    I watched this World Cup as a 23-year old backpacker travelling around Australia and Asia.

    I remember watching the England-Argentina match at 5am, on Magnetic Island, off the coast of Queensland, in a little wooden pub, called Geoff's Place, on a grainy TV, with possums running about on the roof, with a crowd of about 20 other England fans.

    In fact, I've been in the "wrong" time zone for viewing comfort for the last 4 World Cups!!

    I had missed the England-Romania group game, as Airlee Beach didn't have the channel SBS and so we went on a cruise of the Whitsundays instead. I heard the result on beautiful Whitehaven Beach.

    My other favourite game was Nigeria 3 Spain 2.

    The final was watched in a backpacker hostel in Cairns, with Martin Tyler commentating exclusively for SBS. We always get his voice, here in Australia, where I now live, as Sky was never able to show the World Cup.

    __________________________________________________________

  • Comment number 64.

    sol Campbells disallowed goal against argentina is easily the worst moment in my football life. how? why? what might have been :-(?!

    I know we always say it , but this time around really could be our year.

    we couldnt have asked for a better group really, and our passage to the semis isnt overly difficult.

    I dare to dream....

  • Comment number 65.

    Ok England fans - it's the world cup final. The team sheet has been posted. Would you rather see Crouch on it or Rooney? Honestly now...

    Exactly. All the stats in the world (by the way, Rastafairy, Crouch has scored against teams England played against, but he didnt score against every team England played against) would not make anyone who knows anything about anything (not just football) would want Rooney ahead of "not bad touch for a big man".

    And let's face it - you'd rather have James McFadden than either.

    Actually, England would probably be crying out for Fletcher right about now - how is Carrick in the frame for this world cup?

    Everything points to an England win. Argggghhhh.

  • Comment number 66.

  • Comment number 67.

    Decent article, although not as good as the 90 and 94 ones in terms of overall assessments of the tournament, but some good individual stories again.
    "the French were lacking a quality striker - and they needed penalties to get past a disappointing Italy side in the quarter-finals despite dominating the match."
    I have to disagree with the above though. I'd say Italy shaded the match but there wasn't much in it.

    Subterranean wrote:
    "It's a shame that Beckham got sent off at France 98 because I would argue that between 1997 and 2003 Beckham was at the peak of his powers"
    Beckham was a fringe player in 98 and was right to be, his peak was 99 to 2001 which is unfortunate given that the world cups were in 98 and 02. ..Euro 2000 was by far his best tournament when he stood out as clearly our best player
    "Euro 2000 was Zidane's tournament. He was absolutely magnificent in that one, at the peak of his powers."
    Yes, I couldn't agree more. No one in WC France 98 played to the standard of Zidane in 2000.

  • Comment number 68.

    My team of the Tournament:
    GK: Chilavert Defence: De Boer, Blanc, Campbell, Thuram
    Midfield: Deschamps, Okocha, De Boer, Rivaldo. Attack: Suker, Vieri.

    I haven't picked the same player twice by the way, I think the De Boers were brothers Frank and Ronald.

    Argentina-England game was the match of the tournament, much discussed already, although no-one yet mentioned the blatant handball by the Argentinians in sudden death extra time - Alan Shearer, who was standing a yard away and would have taken the penalty and probably scored it, is not likely to forget. The other thing worth a mention is the immense performance of Campbell and Adams at the back in that game.

    Our 98 team was potentially very good. If we had managed to get out of that Romania game with a draw we could have won the group and gone into a much easier part of the draw (Croatia in the last 16, a weak Germany in the QF) rather than heading into the Argentina-Holland-Brazil route.

    My abiding memories of the tournament: France celebrations, starting during the match with the last goal and spilling out onto the street, classy Brazil and Holland sides, and a very solid tournament overall, neither amongst the best nor the worst.

  • Comment number 69.

    Chilavert picking up the Paraguay players after the goalden (see what i did there?) goal was incredibly moving - he was a class outfit. I seem to remember him ending up in jail for trying to free hostages or something - that was after the world cup though.

  • Comment number 70.

    As passionate fans of the conspiracy theory, hardly anybody in Brazil believes the story the CBF came out with about Ronaldo having a fit and almost swallowing his tongue. Although starting him in the game, if that were the case, would lend credence to the 'sponsorship' theory. I think people have accepted that FIFA wanted to compensate France for so many 'near misses' in previous cups, and the precedent with Argentina/Peru in '78 had already been established. And the story was concocted to try and explain how a team that had shown such skill and determination up to the final could have 'failed to turn up' in the last game. Anyway, one wonders....

  • Comment number 71.

    I remember this WC for the outstanding Brazil - Denmark QF, and Zenden's belter against Croatia in the 3/4 playoff....Great Stuff!

  • Comment number 72.

    I went to Englands game against Tunisia. I've gotta reccomend going to a World Cup match to everyone. It wasn't the greatest game i've ever been to but it just seemed as huge as it was. A great feeling

  • Comment number 73.

    1998 was a momentous world cup for me. I was 18, it was the summer of finishing college and starting to work full-time. Although some pointless A-level exams interrupted my viewing of a few first round games i barely missed a match. This was supposed to be Ronaldo`s world cup and to an extent it was. Far and away the best player, scoring 4 and assisting 3 he displayed immense skills and invention in most matches (except v norway and the final). Other memories include;

    Best games:Spain v nigeria, Denmark v nigeria, England v Argentina, Holland v Argentina, Brazil v Denmark, Brazil v Holland.

    Best players:Ronaldo, Rivaldo, bERGKAMP, Suker, Desailly, thuram, Owen.

    This was the last truly great world cup in my view. Some really atmospheric stadiums, and the knock-out games actually had goals and there were some surprises, some ding-dong games and some emerging talent! Ronaldo would have to wait 4 years to finally grab that cup but for 4/5 weeks in France in 1998 i`d say quality wise the football was way above 2002 & 2006.

  • Comment number 74.

    Really enjoyed this World Cup. Paris at QF time with the French and Brazilian fans the atmosphere was amazing. Some great players Zidane, Suker, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Thuram, Deschamps and the best team winning.

    What about England? Well Owen started his traditional diving against Argentina, overhyped player with poor discipline gets himself sent off (Beckham just like Rooney would a few years later...)A mediocre team losing against the two decent teams they played, and then blaming it on a dodgy ref, and how really they could have won! typical England performance then.........

  • Comment number 75.

    I was about to start University but saved up with my then girlfriend and booked a hotel room in Amsterdam for a month so we could watch the World Cup start to finish. The hotel staff thought we were mental.

    My abiding memory is off Dennis Bergkamp scoring that amazing last minute winner v Argentina. I was in a bar at the time watching on TV with Barry 'The Legend' Davies commentating and can remember one of the De Boer twins smashing it forward...and then..."beautifully bought down by Bergkamp....OHHHHH WHAT A GOALLLLLL!!!".

    I can remember exactly where I was stood. Brilliant memories. The next thing, the final whistle went and the Oranje Army were everywhere, swarming over the streets, the trams, basically any vantage point. Then an all-day/night party began.

    I'm back there in 2 weeks for my eleventh trip and my plane lands 2 hours before Holland play Denmark.

    Oh and bring back Barry Davies.

  • Comment number 76.

    No 12 - saying "case closed" at the end of a post is not only the single most irritating habit on forums (apart from posting "first!"), but also completely meaningless. The case isn't closed - Crouch's goal record is better than Rooney's (doesn't make him a better player, but it's a fact).

    He hasn't scored against "big" teams because he has very rarely started against them (45 mins against Spain, 8 against Brazil etc - both where England were universally poor, and Rooney also didn't score).

    It's a lazy accusation trotted out without thought by hundreds of posters who don't like Crouch's tallness (I can only assume it's that, as from a footballing point of view there is little to dislike, except maybe his lack of pace).

    He did score what should have been the decisive goal in the Euro 2008 debacle in the rain - a cracking goal, against a good side, under huge pressure, in a massive game.

  • Comment number 77.

    I love a good volley so the Spain v Nigeria game had 2 cracking goals! Anderton v Columbia was as good as Becks free kick.

    Anyway I think what was special about older World Cups is that there was more mystery because a lot more players played in their home countries and there was a good chance that would be the first time you would see some amazing tallent that were not in the prem or you didn't know about from football italia or champions league.

  • Comment number 78.

    Apologies for this but...

    "England were out on penalties for their third tournament running.... "

    ....What about Euro 92 in between Italia 90 and Euro 96 - out at the group stages? I know we all tried to forget about it as England were awful, especially the Sweden defeat and Lineker getting subbed in his last England match, but it did happen.

    Great article nonetheless...

  • Comment number 79.

    Oh, that Bergkamp goal - a thing of beauty!

    I was delighted when France won tho - I'd been telling everyone that they would, and the general view was that as a girl, I didn't know what I was talking about! Never mind that as a Gooner I'd been watching several of their players on a regular basis. Oh, how I smirked for weeks afterwards!

  • Comment number 80.

    "I think people have accepted that FIFA wanted to compensate France for so many 'near misses' in previous cups"
    Don't think they have. Where is the evidence for this?
    It always seemed to me that the truth would come out later. Nothing yet though.

  • Comment number 81.

    67. At 01:37am on 01 Jun 2010, Henman Bill wrote:

    Beckham was a fringe player in 98 and was right to be, his peak was 99 to 2001 which is unfortunate given that the world cups were in 98 and 02. ..Euro 2000 was by far his best tournament when he stood out as clearly our best player
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What an idiotic comment, Beckham started every single qualifier of that campaign, beginning in 1996. The only player to do so. Hardly a fringe player. Hoddle was ridiculed as a result for dropping him and for not playing Michael Owen.

    Owens goal, from a Beckham pass showed what potential that combo had. Only for his sending off, England would have won that tournament.

  • Comment number 82.

    Great world cup. But not the best final.

    I also think England could have gone further. But the refs/UEFA/FIFA wont allow it!!

    Am I the only person that thinks the Beckham incident was never, NEVER, a red card??

    I mean, come on, flicking his leg at some one and tripping him up. TRIPPING!!!!!

    Players can cynically floor an opponent and only pick up a yellow and Beckham got a red for a trip!!!

    And why blame Shearer for the Campbell disallowed goal. His contact with the keeper resulted in the ball going through to Campbell allowing him to head home. No Shearer contact - no Campbell header!!
    Not rocket science!!!

    Its no big secret though, the powers that be will never allow England to win or progress to the latter stages of a world cup. Or even the Euros for that matter.

    Just look at history. Look at all the decisions that can go either way, but always end up going against England. ALWAYS!!

    Coincidence? I think not!

  • Comment number 83.

    No. 76

    Mr Hadlee (if that is your real name) - the discussion regarding the number of goals Peter "The Big Man" Crouch has scored is not in question. The discussion is whether he is better than Rooney. He's not. It's as simple as that.

    That said, I really want England to lose - so by all means include Crouchy, Heskey, Defoey, Carricky, Warnocky, Jamesy, half-fit Barryy and seldom fit Kingy in the squad. Hang on a minute, Fabio's already done it.

    Scratch that. Case Closed.

    Has anyone considered a new conspiracy theory? Capello doesn't want England to win the world cup? At least Sir Alex was always honest about that.

    Case Closed.

    First!

  • Comment number 84.

    No. 78

    Apologies for this but...

    "England were out on penalties for their third tournament running.... "

    ....What about Euro 92 in between Italia 90 and Euro 96 - out at the group stages? I know we all tried to forget about it as England were awful, especially the Sweden defeat and Lineker getting subbed in his last England match, but it did happen.

    Great article nonetheless...

    _________________________________________________________________________

    I'd also add that they went out of the 94 tournament in qualifying.


  • Comment number 85.

    OH yeah, and another thing - if the goals to game ratio were that important - Greaves would have played ahead of Hurst in 1966.

    If only...

  • Comment number 86.

    Despite what the naysayers will have you believe, France '98 followed the US competition as another fine World Cup, with more than its fair share of good matches and great goals. Yes, there were more red cards than one might care to see, but the tension and drama was unlike anything I remember since Argentina '78.

    I was starting as an associate producer on one of the BBC's most popular panel shows, and many 'working lunches' to nearby World Cup-friendly hostelries had to be arranged among us all. The combination of the wall-to-wall football and constant high-quality banter made for a dream working environment and is a memory I'll keep forever.

    As for the competition itself, a splendid opening day's football saw Scotland a shade unlucky in their defeat to the reigning champions (I do wish we could return to the tradition of the holders opening the tournament), followed by an unexpectedly lively but largely-forgotten encounter between Norway and Morocco. The following day gave us Baggio's penalty redemption against Chile, as the tournament began to unfold. As can be seen here, Nigeria's defeat of Spain was a treat - certainly the match of the first round - while other good matches saw the Germans come from behind to hold Yugoslavia and Croatia survive a scare to overcome the Reggae Boyz.

    The knockouts - as again proved within these highlights - were dramatic if nothing else. Our defeat to Argentina was probably the match of the second round, but was a game England should really have won. Few mention Scholes's chance to put us 3-1 up that might well have taken us through. As for Beckham's dismissal, he shouldn't have moved his leg for sure, but there was little to what happened - and these days I think Simeone and the ace-stirrer Batistuta would probably follow him into the book. The quarter final between them and the Dutch was a cracker, though. (Kluivert's great team goal that opened the scoring is another overlooked gem.) Brazil/Denmark was another corker, while both semis delivered a lot.

    Further memories: some great England goals from Scholes (vs Tunis), Anderton and Beckham (vs Colombia) and Owen (vs Argentina); Morocco believing they were through after hammering the Scots - only to hear of a hugely unlikely last-minute winner by Norway over Brazil that sent them home; Iran beating 'the Great Satan'; Martin O'Neill saying what everyone else already knew about Robbie Williams; Spain's pyrrhic 6-1 victory over Bulgaria - never have I seen a team so dejected in such circumstances; Motty's excitement over the Ronaldo 'final farce' - which was nowhere near as one-sided a game as people tend to suggest; Fantasy World Cup on ITV; wishing/hoping in vain that Mexico would eliminate the Germans; the Romanians' peroxide madness...

  • Comment number 87.

    This was my first World Cup and it is one I will never forget. As a young kid watching this feast of great attacking football with Bergkamp's wonder goal, Croatia upsetting Germany and of course Michael Owen's incredible goal. It is still for me the best world cup I have ever seen (even though I have only witnessed 2002 and 2006 as well!)

  • Comment number 88.

    81. At 3:09pm on 01 Jun 2010, tomefccam wrote:
    67. At 01:37am on 01 Jun 2010, Henman Bill wrote:

    Beckham was a fringe player in 98
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What an idiotic comment, Beckham started every single qualifier of that campaign, beginning in 1996.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    The article and the discussion after is about the tournament not the qualifiers - noone is discussing the qualifiers. In the actual tournament (I said 98 I am not talking about 96!) Beckham did not play regularly. Hoddle said his head wasn't right and he was proved right later on.

    Stating that Beckham was a fringe player is therefore factually correct since he was never a dead cert for the team early in the tournament. If you are going to call something idiotic I would suggest that you try to avoid doing it while challenging such indisputable facts.

    For a genuinely idiotic comment, I refer you back to your statement:

    "Only for his sending off, England would have won that tournament."

    Would have? It's a certainty then is it? After all Argentina lost to Holland who lost to Brazil who lost to France. So clearly Argentina vs England was the real final then?

    If you're going to needlessly and wrongly call someone idoiotic in an otherwise civilised forum, don't embarrass yourself by then being idiotic yourself.

  • Comment number 89.

    must say i was pretty disappointed with this world cup. the format (blatant fixing, nice one FIFA), the 8 pointless extra teams dumbing the quality down, all the media hype again surrounding england (that thankfully was absent from the previous one), poor refereeing, and of course the host nation winning ... the icing on a pretty poor cake.

  • Comment number 90.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 91.

    It must have been amazing to have been in France for the World Cup Final. Feel sorry for Laurent Blanc (and Ronaldo for that matter), but he ended up on the right side in the end! :)

 

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