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Remember the first time?

Tom Fordyce | 13:53 UK time, Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Ah, nostalgia. It's a wonderful thing, even if it isn't as good as it used to be.

One man's happy reminiscences, of course, can be another man's sorry-I-don't-remember. While I've spent the last few days wallowing in memories of the 1982 World Cup, triggered by a special programme on the event (5 Live Sport, 2030-2200 Tuesday 31 March), for younger pups in the office it's all about Mexico '86.

Mention Bryan Robson to me and I see a fresh-faced midfield dynamo scoring after 27 seconds against France. To Ben Dirs he's a shattered-looking man limping off the pitch holding his useless shoulder while Peter Reid warms up in the background.

But while the tournaments and Robbos might differ, the principle is the same: it's your first World Cup that is the biggie, the one that had the greatest impact and remains the most vivid.


No matter how well England do on Wednesday night against Ukraine or how impressive they look over the rest of the qualifying campaign, it's unlikely to have quite the same effect on me as qualification in 1982 did.

Back then it seemed completely unreasonable that my mum would not allow me to change my name to Trevor or Ray, the default name of choice for any decent England player of the period.

Her argument against was not the obvious one. Indeed, had there been any high-profile St Trevors or St Rays in the Bible, the name-change would probably have been given the thumbs-up.

As it was, I had to settle for her assistance in other World Cup matters. I'd noticed at some point in March that the British Egg Council was giving away a free Espana '82 wallchart; all you needed to do was post off the special tokens from their commemorative World Cup egg-boxes.

The flaw in the scheme was the number of tokens required. This was no straightforward giveway. So stringent were the competition rules that it took a dedicated campaign of egg-eating over three months from the entire family - scrambled eggs for breakfast, egg-and-cress sandwiches for lunch, omelettes for tea and generally a nice baked custard for pudding - to even get within touching distance of the wallchart.

If I hadn't been one of five kids we wouldn't have stood a chance. Others may remember early summer 1982 for the birth of Prince William or the Goombay Dance Band. I'll remember it mainly for the egg-sweats.

Because it's your first World Cup, you don't always appreciate the significance of what you're watching. As an eight-year-old it made sense that Scotland might take the lead against Brazil with a long-range shot scored by a right-back. It seemed completely unremarkable that a 17-year-old might star for Northern Ireland, or that Northern Ireland might beat Spain on their own patch.


More unexpected was the early lesson in how cruel and unjust football could be.

For nascent England fans in 1986 it would be Maradona's fist; in 1990 Bodo Illgner's shins. In 1982 it was pretty much the whole tournament.

Having won all three of their group games, England were knocked out in the second stage without losing a game. Italy, who failed to win a single match in their opening group, cruised through to the final itself.

Kuwait, with the first sheikh-led pitch invasion in history, managed to get a perfectly good French goal disallowed on the basis that some of their players claimed to have heard a whistle blown in the crowd.

West Germany, meanwhile, with a goalkeeper who was happy to karate-kick an opponent's front teeth out if it prevented a goal, established themselves as the great football villains of the era.

Harald Schumacher's assault on France's Patrick Battison was only the tip of the flying boot. The Germans had already colluded with Austria in their final group match to ensure that both went through at the expense of Algeria.

To watch the terrifying likes of Wolfgang Dremmler and Uli Stielike subsequently fight their way past France in the semi-finals was to understand for the first time that the goodies wouldn't always beat the bad guys.

Then there were the shorts. Seldom has a garment had so apposite a name as during that tournament. Despite it being an era of big hair, batwing jumpers and two metre-wide shoulder pads, the shorts were indecently small - the sort of thing you'd only find nowadays on a distance runner, a relaxed Alan Partridge or one of Kylie's backing dancers.

I owned a pale blue satin-effect pair with a small slit up the outside of each leg. I don't think I took them off all summer.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Gerry Armstrong - take a bow son

  • Comment number 2.

    England > N.I

  • Comment number 3.

    I remember watching my first world cup as a 10 year old "mexico 1970" , Brazil were awesome !!
    Then "Germany 74" was very poor and very boring.
    But "Argentina 78" restored my apetite , although I supported England the highlight for me was Archie´s goal against Holland, what a goal :)

  • Comment number 4.

    My first one as a fan was USA 94 (was around in 90 but don't remember is at all live)...I remember trying my best to stay up and watch matches but my Mum and Dad often said "Just tape the game" (was 8 TBF!)

  • Comment number 5.

    NI > Spain > England

  • Comment number 6.

    Great blog Tom!
    Being a 21 Year Old Welshman I of course don't know what it's like to see my country in a World Cup.. My first was in 1998 (being a bit too young to remember '94). Happily, I'm part French so I'll always remember it for obvious reasons.. But I had the most enormous and elaborate wall chart you can imagine with stickers and everything, it was so exciting! I remember being confused about whether I should support England or not.. But that whole France team I remember with so much affection, watching Laurent Blanc kissing Barthez's bald every game, laughing that Thuram had a girl's name and marvelling at Zidane.. 1998 World Cup was special!!

  • Comment number 7.

    NI win one game and they get excited.


  • Comment number 8.

    I broke my World Cup virginity during Mexico 86. I remember watching Gary Lineker's hat trick against Poland in the early hours of the morning on a 12" Black & White TV in my bedroom. But the highlight was Maradona's goals against England & Belgium in the Semis. Certainly the best player ever in the modern era.

  • Comment number 9.

    My first World Cup was Italia'90.A lot of people have since criticised the tournament as being dull and featuring defensive football,that may be but I remember it as being really entertaining -Cameroon,the underdogs,team of the tournament for most people.Some great goals,and of course England getting to the Semi-Finals!1990 was iconic for me,and I'm sure other people of my age group feel the same.I think only 1994 and 2002 have come close in terms of entertainment and unpredictability.1998 and 2006 were much poorer tournaments than Italia 90 in my view,2006 being without doubt the biggest let-down ever.

  • Comment number 10.

    Love the blog, brings back some of my earliest football memories... Gazza crying and the ball looping in slow motion over Peter Shilton's head... 1990, I was 6, and when I think of the words 'the World Cup' that is still what comes into my head!

  • Comment number 11.

    Italia 90. Kevin Sheedy's equaliser against England in the opening group game. Beating Romania on penalties in the second round. I remember thinking that Gheorghe Hagi was the best player I'd ever seen. Then of course losing to the Italians 1-0 in the quarters thanks to Toto Schillachi.

  • Comment number 12.


    I imagine that having lower expectations being a small country and then exceeding those expectations even on an infrequent basis is far more fulfilling than having ridiculous expectations (as World beaters) and continually failing to achieve them - like England.

    The irony being that the feeling you have displayed regarding NI is exactly the same as the Big 4 supporters feel about your beloved Villa.

    Ah bless.

  • Comment number 13.

    1990... Scotland being beat by Costa Rica!

  • Comment number 14.

    1998 was the first WC I took interest in (After, of course, being introduced to tournament football by Euro '96). don't know why I paid no attention in '94, was certainly very into football at that point... Meh.

    Scoles scoring against Tunisia, Beckham against Columbia, the last minute defeat to Romania... and then, the Argies. Owen's goal, the Red Card, the disallowed ET goal, and the second consecutive tournament I'd watch England leave on penalties. Ahhh memories.

  • Comment number 15.

    I might just be the exception to your rule then Tom......

    I was 6 in 1990 and didn't remember much except for sitting in my pyjamas watching England play a team in Green (Cameroon as I later found out). But by the next year I was 7 - I was old enough to understand the beautiful game.

    I wore out my highlights of the tournament tape - I watched it that often. I almost remember it like it was live. Scifo and Culemans of Belgium, Roberto Baggio's dribble against the Czech's, Platt's volley, O'Leary's penalty, Voller and Rijkaards "incident" the drama of penalties, Gazza's tears - England's heartbreak.

    So by 1992 I watched the Euros and that seemed awesome... but the best was yet to come.... surely? I was hooked on the World Cup ideal - I remember watching every single one of England's qualifiers and sitting in tears after the defeat in Oslo left qualification hagning by a thread.

    I remember the unfairness and the indignity of defeat in Rotterdam - I remember the dignity of Graham Taylor in falling on his sword and taking responsibility.

    So maybe the reason that my first real World Cup watched (1994) was such a disappointment was the fact that England weren't there. But I suspect that it was more than that. 1990 was held in a country that lives and breathes football. In '94 the greatest competition on earth got the brash, undignified, classless Hollywood treatment. Yes there were some memories.... Houghton's goal, the Bulgarians beating Germany, Baggio's pomp and the Brazil v Netherlands quarter final. But ultimately the tournament disappointed. The final was awful and I was left with such a sense of disappointment.

    Then came 1998. Which was fantastic. The flair of Brazil, the dreams of the French nation, the Beckham saga, the emergence of Owen, the lucklessness of the Dutch.

    But personally.... my favourite World Cup was the last one. Germany 2006 had everything, drama, fairytales, good football, goals, excitment, the England hard luck story, Beckham's tears and a dramatic finale.

    For me that is the best World Cup that I've ever seen - 1994 (my first) just doesn't come close.

  • Comment number 16.

    I was only 7 at the time but I remember what seems like every detail of the 1998 world cup. I can always remember beforehand seein the likes of Shearer, Anderton, and being a big fan of Marcelo salas in his time at lazio (channel 4), but I had many posters illustrating the history of the tournament, and to know that I would see the likes of Brazil and argentina for the first time gave me goosebumps.
    It was my first but out of all the ones since it remains easily the best! It was at a time when players would marvel at the brazilians' step-overs and try to create their own individual tricks and flicks. Not only that but crowds were good, matches were brilliant and it was at a time when the start and end of careers coincided with each other (Henry, Ortega, Laudrup, Bergkamp, Rivaldo, Barthez lol)

    ...even the soundtracks were good!

  • Comment number 17.

    1966 was my first World Cup...
    Germany scored first in the final and as soon as Kenneth Wolstenholme said "The team who scores first in the Final always goes on to lose"...I knew beyond any doubt (being 11 years old) that we would win.
    'There's some people on the pitch, they think its all over.....It is now - it's four!"
    Ahhh. Wonderful memories.

  • Comment number 18.

    I have vague memories of '86, but 1990 was my first proper world cup. I think as a youngster I was fascinated by the fact every country had at least one player that I thought was great. Thomas Skuhravy(sp?) for the then Czechoslovakia, Toto Schillaci for Italy, Enzo Scifo for Belgium being 3 that initially stand out for some reason. Even in later tournaments that was the case, such as Yordan Letchkov for Bulgaria in '94, Carlos Valderamma for Colombia, a Bolivian guy who's name escapes me in 1994, Prosinecki... the list goes on.
    Paul the Villan- times must be hard indeed for England if you're starting a bun fight with us NI fans!! Technically the other fellow was crowing about 2 wins- us beating Spain 3-2 in Belfast while they were in their way to becoming European Champions, and of course the win against England in 2005.

  • Comment number 19.

    its true. the first is the most vivid. even as a 10 year old in 1978. At the time i was oblivious to the Argentine dirty war going on, but then again so seemed most of the adults. 20 years later i was able to visit B Aires and the TV pictures came flooding back to mind..

    was my first real interest in art too as i adored all the posters designed for each host city in Spain and my mum took me to an exhibition of them on the South Bank, London. couldnt afford a poster but scraped enough cash together for a panini sticker album

    Scotland v Costa Rica was my first live experience. No need to add any more about that.

  • Comment number 20.

    1966. A Spurs mad Irish kid living in Ireland. Unlike many of my friends I was supporting England as my idol Jimmy Greaves played for them. Sadly injured in the third group game he missed the next two, but was fit for the final-Ramsey (an ex Spur though this was unbeknownst to me at the time) left him out. Heart broken and angry I supported West Germany.

    Not a good afternoon for me, but hey I've never supported England since, and as a result had a lot of world cup laughs, to go along with the joy of O'leary's penalty two memorable goals by Ray Houghton (one in a Euro I have to confess) and Robbie Keanes last minute equaliser against Germany!

  • Comment number 21.

    "I was there, at Wembley, in 1966"!! For all the games except E v Mexico. I gave my ticket to my Dad. I remember the Argentine captain Rattin...He had to go! And I remember Alf Ramsey preventing Cohen from swapping his shirt with an Argentinian. They really were "animals" in that game. As for the final, did it cross the line? I was right behind that goal but it happened all too quickly to tell. But the World Cup memory that is seared on my brain is England 2 W. Germany 3 in 1970. I watched that game in a Left Bank bar in Paris surrounded by Germans! Oh, if we only had had a Keegan, Lineker, Shearer or an Owen in that tournament! But if England bossed extra time in '66, so did the Germans in '70.

  • Comment number 22.

    Great article - not something i had thought of before but 1990 was my first and favourite World Cup for the same reasons.
    I will never foget jumping up at David Platt's late late goal and smacking my head of the caravan roof (we were on holiday!).
    Then Gazza's tears, my tears and then Waddle proving that he couldn't sing or take penalties!

  • Comment number 23.

    NI have won their last three competitive games and are currently top of their group table. For a small country like ours that is a fantastic achievement! Especially since players from NI can opt to play for the Republic of Ireland, but not vice versa. Even with our limited squad we get results. If England lose a match they just sack the manager! With the talented players England have, they should be challenging for World Cups and Euro tournaments. Not losing 1-0 to NI!
    What a night at Windsor Park that was! Ashley Cole is a goat.

  • Comment number 24.

    Italia 90 was the best for me, I thought linekar would would always score and come to the rescue. I think the theme tune by pavorotti always brings back fond memeories and a lump in my throat.

  • Comment number 25.

    I will never forget the Brazil v Italy game

    Brazil have slaughtered everyone in the group stage and I was gutted that they did not get through against a very dull Italy team

    Brazil had Zico, Eder (magical volley against NZ), Socrates, Falco (check those veins), Junior. They meant everything good in football, attack, attack, attack

    The other memory has to be Schumacher. If you watch on You Tube that tackle you still think he has killed the guy, its just common assualt and how he stayed on the pitch is amazing.

    The final as boring as my dream of Brazil winning had ended. Oh to be 8 again!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I think I've still got my Espana '82 scrapbook knocking around somewhere. So keen was I to keep it bang up to date that I would rise at dawn to grab the newspaper off the front doormat and start cutting out the match reports and pictures. By the time my old man got to it two hours later, the paper was a brutally-scissored unreadable mess. Sorry Dad.

  • Comment number 27.

    Nice one Tom. My first was World Cup 94 but barely remember much apart from Roberto Baggio with his ponytail blazing the ball over the bar in the penalty shootout in the final.

    I really got the football bug after Euro 96 though. Like you mentioned: "More unexpected was the early lesson in how cruel and unjust football could be." As a young Tartan Army fan I remember jumping off my sofa in ecstasy when Scotland got a penalty against England, only to sob uncontrollably after Gary Macallister missed it and Gazza popped up with a wonder goal at the other end straight after.

  • Comment number 28.


  • Comment number 29.

    The first WC I remember watching was Argentina '78 but it was the WC '82 that was the first in which I had the most memories of.The images of Keegan and Brooking coming on to save the tournament and Keegan putting a header just wide still stand fresh in the memory.Also of note was the Hungarians 10-1 rout of El Salvador though the main memory was of how mental the El Salvadorians went when they scored their goal.

    Despite all this Spain '82 can be summed up in one word - Brazil.

    The best side I have ever seen for entertainment and sheer 'wow' factor.

  • Comment number 30.

    25. Elise, I forgot about Falcao and the veins!!!! You mean his celebration running arms aloft with them virtually popping out his arms as thats the image i remember.

  • Comment number 31.

    The one thing that really sticks out about italia 90 for me ( I was 7 )
    was the sticker album, unlike efforts before and since the italia 90 album was a folder split into several different sections, all teams, stadia and cities had pages as did world cup legends and best goals of the tournament, Archie Gemmill againt the dutch in 1978 being a favourite, however why Dave Nareys sublime effort against brazil in 82 never made it is beyond me. Another confusing aspect was why gordon banks (or was it jennings, whoever saved the Pele header) made it into the 'best goals' section with a save.

    Attending the Scotland v Norway game at france 98 was an amazing experience, however I must admit that the atmosphere at the eiffel tower the day before we opened the tournament against brazil will be a memory that stays with me until the day i die

  • Comment number 32.

    The FIRST game of football I can ever remember watching as the USA 94 final, Brazil v Italy. My mum was asleep so I started flicking the channels and stumbled across this wonderful sport. Instant captivation.

    However, I didn't support a team as such, so the first time I properly followed a tournament was Euro 96. I cried when England were knocked out, and so even though now I support Man United, England games and international tournaments are the most special footballing events for me.

    As for whether the first time (Euro 96 I suppose) was my favourite, I suppose it still is BUT I regard World Cup 2006 (with the exception of England games!) as being the best tournament I've seen so far.

  • Comment number 33.

    France 98 was the first for me. I remember collecting special edition coins from sainsburys of the squad (which i still own!) and had 2 wall charts. Our family didnt have a tv at this time, so i listened to the group matches on the radio but was very excited to watch the argentina game at a friends house. I can still remember the pain i felt after that game...

  • Comment number 34.

    My first world cup was Argentina 78. Most of the goals scored were long range spectaculars. Scotland were awful apart from Archie Gemmill's mega goal against Holland. My favourite world cup was 1990 when Jack's green army invaded Italy en masse. We didn't win a game but it was brilliant all the same. 1994 in America was farcical as regards the heat. Beating Italy in Giants Stadium was magic, losing to Mexico in Florida was awful. We were never going to win that day. The only thing that the Irish players got out of that match was sunstroke. 2002 in Japan/Korea we should have got past Spain and god knows what could have happened even without Keano but that's another story. By the way my favourite goal of all time was scored in America 1994 by a Saudi player against Belgium. Yes this goal was even better than Maradona against England in 86 in my opinion. Does anyone remember it?

  • Comment number 35.

    Unfortunately the first world cup I really watched was Japan/S Korea 2002 which was a pretty awful tournament but I agree that there is something magic about the first tournament, particularly those early morning Japanese matches back when I was young enough to want to wake up at 8am to watch and it was great fun watching England v Argentina and Brazil v Turkey in school. I suppose the highlight of that world cup was the ridiculous dive by Rivaldo when he was hit by the ball on his shin and then fell down holding his face but personal higlights must always include those sunday paper wallcharts!

  • Comment number 36.

    The first World Cup I can remember was '94 when I was eight, but as England weren't involved in that, the first tournament to have that nostalgic first-time effect on me was Euro '96.

    I remember it so vividly. First of all, it wasn't just about the football. Three Lions was the official anthem and was completely inescapable at the time, much to my glee - everyone used to sing it at the top of their high-pitched little voices on the school bus (restrospectively, I'm surprised that the driver didn't just choose to drive the coach off the nearest bridge at full speed - you don't realise how annoying you must be when you're just a pre-pubescent juvenile). Even when I hear it now, it instantly overloads me that nostlagic jumper-for-goal-posts kind of feeling.

    The whole nation was engaged in the tournament, even those annoying people that don't normally follow football, but get all over-excited when England are playing in a tournament and act is if they're football-crazy (that was the one positive about England not qualifying for Euro 2008 - we didnt' have to put up with those idiots for once).

    That first game against Switzerland (the day before my tenth birthday), which finished 1-1, wasn't exactly breathtaking and did little to entice a restless child of my age. That all changed though the moment David Seaman saved Gary McCallister's penalty against Scotland a week later, which was duly followed by that magical goal from a pre-mental Gazza.

    The rest of England's involvement is so fresh in my memory, it's as if it all only just happened. The 4-1 thrashing of Holland is probably my favourite memory, as when you're ten, seeing your team score four goals in a game is just about the best thing in the world (I support West Ham, so that's something that still does excite me due to the rarirty of it happening regularly!).

    Winning the penalty shoot-out against Spain in the quarter-finals was just as exciting. Again, when you're that age, seeing a goalkeeper save a penalty does seem pretty astounding and feels like you've just witnessed the impossible happen. Therefore, despite his Arsenal affiliation, David Seaman does have a special place in my heart (even more so since me and my old uni housemates discovered his genius TV presenting skills in his two DVDs Goalkeeping Nightmares and Jeepers Keepers).

    The semi-final against Germany probably summed up exactly what it's like to support England. It all started off so well with the tournament's top scorer, Alan Shearer, giving England an early lead, before it was cancelled out by some German bloke with a name whose humour was lost upon my innocent ten-year old mind (Kuntz). Then there was the extra-time, made all the more gripping and nerve-racking by the new ill-fated Golden Goal system. Darren Anderton hit the post and Gazza was just a nano-second too late to connect to a cross in front of a practically open goal, which would have sealed it. I also seem to recall Germany having a goal disallowed, which cued a nationwide simaltaneous sigh of relief. We all know how it ended of course. I remember clearly though how excellent England's first five penalties were - just a shame that Gareth Southgate took the sixth!

    It felt horrible to get knocked out in that fashion after we had played so well. I felt like a brand new toy that I absolutely loved had been snatched away by some cruel, arrogant bully. It completely ruined the following Sunday, which should have seen us beating the Czech Republic and lifting the trophy in front of a jubilant Wembley and, indeed, nation.

    Maybe that was the best thing that could have happened though, as I learnt at the earliest opportunity how hard and frustrating it can be if you support England. I feel sorry for those older folks whose first England memory was 1966 - imagine how let down they must have felt in the years that followed!

  • Comment number 37.

    1990 was my first World Cup memory- a great tournamet and a bewildering experience for a six year old. The thing I remember was Gazza blubbing and wondering what was wrong with Chris Waddle.

    However, this was not the formative footballing trauma that shapped my little footballing brain. That event was Arsenal's defeat to Spurs in the 1991 FA Cup Semi. Again I remember Gazza, my first visit to the Twin Towers was frightening in an exciting way- and most of all I remember the bitterness of defeat- that was when the young lad who loved the Arsenal in a care free sort of way and enjoyed the spin off of being bought fish and chips on a Saturday, chrysatlised into a Gooner. That was when the pain and the passion was unleashed, one might say.

    On the international scene, helped by how rubbish Graham Taylor's England were, the main event for me has to be Euro 96. By this point I knew what football was, played, watched Arsenal home and away and in finals thanks to my Dad, so there was none of the 1990 bewilderment, just an intense footballing experience that I hadn't had with England before. Yet again, the tragic Gazza ranks highly, alongside numerous moments of collective and individual brilliance and drama. Seaman's penalty saves, Adams leading the team like a true lion, the exquisit combination of Shearer and Sheringham in their pomp- priceless and ultimately soul destroying. But that's football eh?

  • Comment number 38.

    Most people know a piece of music that almost literally electrifies them. Hairs standing on end and tears to the eyes sort of thing. For me one such tune is that Jean Michelle Jarre thing that was played relentlessly (albeit by a rival broadcasting company) during June 1998. I was 7 years old in 94 and had struggled to take in the time differences and the absence of England. But I can remember so much detail from France '98, from the whole Becks saga, to running out into the street because I thought Sol Campbell had scored a winner against Argentina, only for my Dad to yell at me to get back inside. Even things like the Blanc and Barthez tender moments and that Paraguayan keeper that took all their set pieces and Jamaica being made up of retiring Wimbledon players and Croatia embarassing the Germans. It still feels like yesterday.
    '02 was hard again because of the time differences but I do remember taking a lot of mornings off school and '06 may have been a let down, partly due to the fact that none of my mates could work out why we had gone to France and not Germany... but both are still just about the biggest reference points I have in my sad life so far and I have high hopes for next year.
    The world cup is just about the best thing there is isn't it?

  • Comment number 39.

    1966: my World Cup Willie scrapbook; black n' white TV; the tedious, frustrating draw in the opening match against those dirty, fouling Uruguayans; Bobby Charlton's net-burster against Mexico (my adopted country); Roger Hunt against France; Geoff Hurst takes over from Jimmy Greaves (fate? God smiling on England?); Eusebio in his Puma boots - I wanted a pair desperately; the North Koreans; Brazil and Pele kicked, literally, out of the tournament; the quarter final (which I missed as I was playing cricket for the school) against the "animals" of Argentina; the semi-final against Portugal - Moore and Eusebio at the end...and then the final; 120 minutes of agony and ecstacy. England came to a halt, no-one was out on the streets. England were a minute away from winning it and Jack Charlton gave away a free-kick just outside the box. There was a slow-motion inevitability about Webber stabbing the ball past the groping hands of Banks; it set the stage for even more drama - did it cross the line? Who cares (well, it seems the Germans still do); then Sir Geoff delivers the coup de grace and Kenneth Wolstenhome utters his immortal line. Alan Ball dances around Wembley (where did he get the energy?) and Bobby Charlton is brought to tears.

    That was some day.

  • Comment number 40.

    NI 1 - 0 England
    NI 3 - 2 England

    England being good

  • Comment number 41.

    * NI 3 - 2 SPAIN

  • Comment number 42.

    Italia 90 was the first World Cup for me though I have memories of watching the France v Brazil 1986 penalty shootout.

    Anyway, Italia 90. Pavarotti, Love's Got the World in Motion, Paul Gascoigne, football becomes popular once again etc etc. The summer of 1990 was about as near perfect as it could get for a football obsessed 10 1/2 year old and his mates.

    My mother's birtday falls on July 4th and this was the date of the England v West Germany semi-final. Ultimately it was to end in tears for England (literally, in Gascoigne's case) but I remember the whole room (including my usually reserved parents) leaping up in joy when Lineker equalised.

    Oh, happy days! Every match was disected and replayed on the playground at my school. Heck, I even won a 50p bet off a friend when I said that West Germany would beat Holland in the first knock-out round. Ah, what else? Watching the games enjoying a variety of ice-creams on the warm summer nights...for some reason, Mars ice creams and Mr. Freeze 5p ice sticks spring to mind!! And then I had a great family holiday in Austria in August 1990.

    Oh boy childhood summers don't get better than that!!

  • Comment number 43.

    Pfffttt "GoonerMatt5!!!"

    Arsenal fans of your age should be referring to themselves as "Gunners."

  • Comment number 44.

    Don't normally comment but feel I have to. Brilliant blog - probably made all the more brilliant for me personally by the fact that 82 was my first WC too (vague memories of '78, but more the tickertape than the football).

    Paolo Rossi 3 v 2 Brazil.
    Schumacher kung fu kick.
    Falcao's exploding neck veins when making it 2-2 in the Italy v Brazil game.
    Boniek carrying poland to the semi's
    Tardelli's emotion at scoring in the final
    One kid in my class wanting West Germany to win (25+ 10 yr olds disagreeing with a little 5hit called Russ)
    Maradona having lumps kicked out of him by Brazil in the group games.(Not really appreciated until 4 years later)
    Hungary 10 v 1 El Salvador
    Littbarski - the only German you'd pay to watch
    The quintessential group of death - Brazil, Argentina, Italy.

    PURE WORLD CUP GOLD - Nothing better before or since.

    To be honest at the grand old age of 37, I look back and realise I seemed to enjoy World Cups in Europe (certainly since 1990) rather than other parts of the world. I like having a pint with mates down the local when watching England in World Cups - Something Japan 2002 was not particularly conjusive to. Looking forward to SA2010 tho.

  • Comment number 45.

    1978, and I'm not allowed to watch Scotland v Peru because the babysitter wanted to watch a Rock Hudson film on the other side. In retrospect I was quite lucky.

  • Comment number 46.

    I thought the 2002 world cup was fantastic. Being a student at the time allowed me and my mates to hit the bar at breakfast time for a fry and a few jars then carry on throughout the day, marvellous! Not sure it would have been as good with a 9 to 5 job!

  • Comment number 47.

    Fond memories of 1970. I've still got the coins with player's faces collected from petrol stations by my dad. Plus there was the booklet that had all the players and descriptions. Dunno where that is. Funny, tinny voices on satellite commentary. Maybe the whole exoticism for a 9 year-old of it being in Mexico was a real draw. Crying when England lost 3-2 to West Germany after being 2-0 up, playing in red shirts! Being in my parent's working men's club on the Sunday night of the final, and I was the only one watching it in a small 'TV lounge', being fed with crisps and coke now and again. "What's the score?" they would ask. "Why aren't you interested?" I would think.

  • Comment number 48.

    Ah, 1982. It was my first as well, but can you remember the ups and downs of that qualifying campaign? Romania, Hungary, Norway and Switzerland and there seemed to be a lot of low scoring games. I couldn't name the other teams in our current group for 2010, but I can remember Paul Mariner falling over the ball and scoring England's winner at Wembley against Hungary in the game that got us there and Brooking's curler against the Hungarians in Hungary when the ball bounced around in the stanchion. The French getting miffed (probably quite rightly) because they weren't seeded and we were. Hansen and was it Willy Miller colliding in the USSR game as the Scots went out again on goal difference. Never wanting a team to win as much as a neutral as we all wanted the French to beat the evil Germans and then having to take the lesser of two evils in the final. And the golden boot winner should have been banned. Keegan's header drifting wide against Spain as he only played twenty minutes in a World Cup final and then the tears as we crashed out. Happy days!

  • Comment number 49.

    Tom, i think you are right that the first World Cup you remember is the best '82 was mine as well and i remember being amazed that there were so many games to watch, as the tournament progressed you start to realize the importance and why your dad was going on about it for weeks before. Lying awake at night wondering if Keegan and Brooking would be fit, watching Northern Ireland do the impossible and wondering why we couldn't.

    Once England were out was the new sensation of choosing your team for the rest of the tournament, i poured through my Ladybird guide to the World Cup (still a pristine prized possession) to make up my mind; i lucked out and chose Italy the team with the old man in goal and the striker back from a ban for betting. The classic Italy - Brazil game permanently engraved on my brain, the great defence against a little bloke called Maradona.

    It wasn't till the final that i really saw what it was all about and what it meant, Marco Tardelli's goal and his reaction still send a shiver down my spine just thinking about it and i become 8 and 3/4's again, how would i cope if England were in the final? Not sure but know i will try to soak it up like the wide eyed kid i once was if it ever happens. Here's hoping

  • Comment number 50.

    So true. So true. So true.

    Being 22 now, my first real tournament was '94. I know I was round for '90, but being 4 it is v.vague.

    Anyhow I can somehow remember everything in 94, simply because I breathed, drank, eat that world cup. From watching the genius Hagi performing miracles for Romania, to seeing Escobar scoring THAT unfortunate and sad own goal. From Houghton scoring that cracker against Italy to laughing at Alexy Lalas' ginger mop. From Maradona being banned for testing positive to Roberto Baggio sending that kick over the bar! That world cup had it all.

    Most of all though, it was Brazil (unsurprising) that my heart sank towards. Romario's goals, Bebeto's baby celebration, Leonardo's elbow (which i've now realised is wrong, and should now be punished appropriately), Branco's free kick and of course the Adidas advert that kicked of with 'how to play soccer like a brazilian' tune. It was new for the yanks, it was new for me. Dunga, Mauro Silva, I can name you every player in that team to this day. I also took a liking to the Argie, not so much for Maradona, hadn't been educated enough, but because of a young Batistuta who I aspired to be.

    Poetry in motion was the '94 World Cup. I'll never forget it. And to think a certain young Ronaldo was on the bench for Brazil - who in my opinion has become the greatest striker ever to grace the game!

  • Comment number 51.

    I also need to add the Bulgaria win against Germany.

    Even though I never thought about 'hating' Germany, I think it was a natural instinct to not support them, especially with old Rudi Voller in their team. So when Stoichkov (Legend) and Letchkov scored I went beserk!!

    Oh and how can we forget Jorge Campos' coloured goalie top!

    And of course, the best passer of the ball Colombia has ever produced Carlos Valderrama!! :)

  • Comment number 52.

    Argentina 78 for me as a 11 yr old ( lovely summer- "you're the one that I want" Number 1 for the whole holidays virtually!) but Espana 82 for the full sticker-collecting ,scorer-memorising, wall-chart gazing experience.

    However, apart from the tears (Honduras going out, France losing the semi after a 3-1 lead at the end of the first half of extra time), the other memory was the BBC title music!

    Was it called Argentine Melody for 78- da,da-da-da, daaa, daa, da etc etc and then the Lloyd -Webber Cats melody for 82.

    Now That WAS the world cup!!

  • Comment number 53.

    I can vaguely remember Mexico '86. Obviously, it belonged to Maradonna, what with his goals against England, his performance throughout the tournamnet, then the final itself, which was excellent.
    However, 5 years later at Italia '90 was my first real memory, and probably my favourite. Ireland, having never been in the World Cup before,qualifying from a Group which included England, Holland and Egypt. An achievement in itself, but to then face Romania and knock them out was just outrageous.
    Penaly Kicks deciding a rather edgy affair, and the heroes emerged, Packie Bonner, and David O'Leary. I remember Tony Cascarion's spot kick. I think he kicked about a foot of turf out the ground when he struck the ball, and my heart was in my mouth. However, Pakie saved from Timofte, and O'Leary calmly place the winner into the top corner. A sea of green and white everywhere - AWESOME.
    Unfortunately, the hosts (and messrs Schillacci, and Baggio) stood in our way, and Schillacci scored the only goal.
    Their team ethic, and the energy they displayed in those matches was unbelievable. That's probably the best team they had. From Euro '88 - Italia '90, they were more of a match for anyone.

    Erin go Bragh.

  • Comment number 54.

    Argentina 78 was my first World Cup memory. Being only 6 my memory of it is a little sketchy now. I seem to remember following Holland as I liked the kit and England hadn`t qualified!

    I have far better memories of Spain 82, rushing home from school each afternoon to watch even the most obscure games! Who could forget Hungary beating El Salvador 10-1! The only dissapointments were that England went home without losing, and the 2 best teams in the tournament (Brazil & France) didn`t make the final.

    Great memories even now.

  • Comment number 55.

    The older I have got the more mixed my feelings about Northern Ireland as a football team have become (I'm from Belfast) and while the "other" Irish team feels more comfortable for me in many ways, it's also not *really* my team.

    I remember 74 (I dearly wanted the Dutch to win) and 78 - thought the Argentinians again cheated the Dutch. But it is, of course, 82 that sticks in the memory.

    My father, brother and I watched the NI/Spain game and went through every permutation of how NI could get through to the next round, but never even mentioned the prospect of victory. Then the goal - total stunned silence in the house at such a gloriously unexpected moment. And the grim last 15 minutes as Spain poured everything into it and Mal was sent off entirely unfairly.

    Actually, they played much better football in the Austria game - they clearly had some belief by then and played like a truly world class team and if Martin's perfectly good opener against France had been allowed the whole history of world football could look very different today.

    Sadly I think the IFA over the years squandered the fact that it was one of the few sporting institutions in the North with cross community buy-in, and I find all the "GOWA" and "OWC" stuff offensive precisely because it fails to recognise the legitimacy of the other community's aspirations. I'd love to see a 32 county team - the rugby boys have shown how powerful that could be - but not in my lifetime.

  • Comment number 56.

    Although Spain '82 was the first WC I remember anything of (Keegan missing, Maradona sent off, Schumacher's attack) it is '86 I really remember as my first proper WC.

    But even though it's my first I still don't regard it was the best WC I've seen, that would have to go to Italia '90. Yup, the initial group matches weren't that great, but that tournament was everything what being an England supporter is all about. A dreary draw in the first match, a great performance that deserved a win not a draw in the second and a dull win for the final group match. Second round - a tense affair ended in stunning style by Platt. Quarters - cruising at first then Cameroon hit back and we're all but out, two penalties and almost heart failures laters and we're through to the semi's. Semi's - arguably one of the greatest WC matches of all time, two teams going hell for leather and being perfectly matched. One of the greatest ever England performances but it's not to be. Germany did deserve the WC in the end, they were the best team of the tournament.

    For all that though, my outstanding WC moment is the site of Marco Tardelli screaming his own name in tears after he scores what is essentially the winning goal of the '82 WC. If anyone ever asks why football means so much, just show them that celebration. *That's* what it's like to score the winning goal in a World Cup final.

  • Comment number 57.

    82 was when my eyes were opened to the emotion and excitment of a world cup (I have just watched the Tardelli celebration on YouTube and it still makes me well up!)

    I can remember feeling absolutley horrified when Schumacher committed GBH on Batiston and stayed on the pitch.

    That French team of that era were magnificent and Platini (just edging out Zidane) is still my favourite player of all time.

    But its the France V Brazil game in 86 that eptomises a World Cup classic and one which I remember vividly, Careca put Brazil 1 up, Platini equalized, Zico enters the fray and misses a penalty, Oscar hauls down Giresse (i think) for what looks like a certain goal (and stays on the pitch), it goes to penalties, Socrates missed the first one, Platini misses his, then Luis Fernandez, socks rolled down typical French lais a faire attitude, bangs it home, awseome.

    I was Fernandez in the school playground for the next 5 years!

  • Comment number 58.

    The first I clearly remember is 86; Maradona, brilliant, Belgium looking good, France going out way too early, Lineker (it's in there)banging in goals for fun and of course my Mexico 86 Panini Sticker album which led to much wasted money over the next 3 or 4 years as I then decided to do each domestic season's album.

    Like someone above though I had just got a TV for my room, tiny and really pants but I remember sneakily watching the game against morocco (ouch) and also the one against Poland (much sweeter) and then having to pretend I didn't know the score when I wearily woke the next morning for school (I would have been 10).

    I remember my Dad (and me) being relegated to the spare room and a very grainy black and white TV for Espana 82 and being young only thing I remember a spanish player called Juanito diving all over the shop like he had been shot. I believe he died in a car crash years before his time. Still, for the wrong reasons he left an impression on me.

    Anally watched USA 94; A levels and school had just finished and could pretty much stay up until whenever watching the games. Also pubs had just been discovered (I mean by me, not in general; that would be a silly comment) so could watch down pub.

    Italia 90 had loads of excitement for an England fan like myself but the fouls were cynical and the style of football a word that I cannot write on here. And the mascot "Ciao" was no "Pique" (or even Naranjito)

  • Comment number 59.

    My memories of 1990 involve thick ears. My old man was entertaining American business associates but when Chrissy Waddle skied that penalty, I accidentally chucked a chair through my bedroom window. Believe me, nobody was happy.

  • Comment number 60.

    well I was lucky enough to be in Italy in 1990 as an 7yr old, and then in France for our world cup in 98...and i tell you waht, being in a country that is hosting the WC is special enough, but to win it too...considering i lived in London and was just down there for the, nothing compares.

    However not everyone supports their country, in Sicily many italians actually supported Argentina, because of Napoli's star player Maradona over thei own country in the semis...

    favourite players in 1990...zenga (walter, how many italians called walter?!!) caniggia, goigochea, roger milla,

    1998 though will always be the best for me, and 2002 the worst

  • Comment number 61.

    Italia 90 as an 11 year old girl I figured the only way to see any tv (and anything of my dad) was to figure out this football lark. From the opening ceremony and the sound of Pavaroti I was hooked - it still brings a tear to the eye.
    I didn't have a wall chart but did make myself an engand flag A4 paper and a red felt tip which i had on the arm of my chair each time england played (till mum through away after the semi hence loosing to italy). I remember being so proud of "my team" battered and brusied bandaged and bleeding thay gave it all and that look lineker gave to the bench when gazza cried that told me how much he cared. From there on spurs became my team and summers not the same without an international tourment.

  • Comment number 62.

    Does anyone remember the wallcharts where you had stickers with the country flags? They stopped doing them for the most recent World Cups.....
    I have great memories of my first 'proper' World Cup in 1978 (kempes and co). Only vague memories of 1974 when I was 7.
    The Panini sticker albums were fantastic too....
    1982 is tops. No World Cup has matched it since.

  • Comment number 63.

    Mexico 1970 was my first and as already mentioned, Brazil were awesome. The outstanding moment was England v Brazil, which has been said to be the greatest game of football ever played, and rightly so.

    Memory of 1974 was "rain stopped play" during the Australia v Chile game I think. And in 1978 the ticker tape atmosphere for every Argentina game

  • Comment number 64.

    Wonderful how everyone has such beatiful memories concerning Summer tournaments. Everyone commenting seems to had the best time of their lifes - after all we are all young, curious and football of that level was still something pretty rare to watch on the telly.

    My first World Cup was Italia'90 and despite being not even 7 years of age I can remember most of the games. The shock of Cameroon beating Argentina in the opening game, the draws in England's group, the unbelievable Argentinian penalty killer Goycoechea, the rise of Toto Schillachi, the dramatic game between Argentina and Brazil decided by a moment of magic from Maradona and Caniggia, England's dramatic wins vs Belgium and Cameroon, Waddle's miss and the undeserved and very problematic win of Germany in the final after some very dodgy refereeing.

    As someone stated before all the teams from the past tournaments had one or two star players everyone looked up to and waited anxiously to watch them play and perform their magic.

    Argentina - Maradona & Caniggia
    Brazil - Romario & Bebeto
    Czechoslovakia - Moravcik & Skuhravy
    Uruguay - Francescoli
    Belgium - Scifo & Ceulemans
    Cameroon - Makanaky (does anyone remember him?)
    England - Gazza, Lineker and Platt
    Germany - Haessler, Moeller, Littbarski and Matthaeus
    Sweden - Brolin
    Italy - Baggio

    And so on and on. It's pure poetry to say that names. Is it me or we don't have that kind of players nowadays anymore. Or is it due to the fact that football has become so omnipresent that that magic has gone missing in between of all those Champions League games being played all over again.

    I remember that in the past tournaments there was always the element of surprise in terms of discovering some new, unknown talent. That is something we can't experience anymore.

  • Comment number 65.

    18, WS-H

    The Bolivian guy; Etchevery??

  • Comment number 66.

    The first tournament always has the biggest impact, however it wasn't the world cup for me that had the impact it was Euro 96. What an unbelievable tournament and to see the old Wembley in all it's glory with a near 100,000 passionate fans filling it to capacity to see the best English team without a doubt since 1966.

    That summers tournament is so vivid and clear in my mind to this day, and how good English football was back then. A time when they could compete and better the best there was to offer and there is no doubt in my mind that had Gazza been gifted with 3cm more height he would've poked in that agonising lunge against Germany and for me England would've gone on and undoubtedly won that tournament.

  • Comment number 67.

    1990 was my first 'real' World Cup as I discovered the joys of beer and football at the same time as a group of friends and I descended on each others houses to get royally drunk watching Englad get progressively better ending by sharing in Gazza's tears after the Semi Final. However my abiding memory as a 17 year old is the Cameroon goal against Argentina and seeing the brand new boots being worn by the entire team.
    Every game and every goal a great memory

  • Comment number 68.

    Tom - like you, Spain '82 was my first tournament. My first ever game was the Ireland-France qualifier in Dublin in '81, great game, finished 3-2 to Ireland yet we failed to qualify on goal difference behind Belgium and France (but ahead of the Dutch, runners up of the previous 2 World Cups - talk about a group of death). The 6 year old me was heartbroken - but what a superb tournament Spain '82 was! We'd watch the games on RTE and then go out and pretend to be Rummenigge, Zico, Platini (not Robson and Graham Rix, oddly enough).

    Happy, happy days.

  • Comment number 69.

    I with you Tom, Spain 82 was my first World Cup. Had loads of memorabilia I remember, all of it seemingly involving that tubby orange that was the mascot. Being only 8 I don't remember all that much about the England games, but I do remmeber the Scotland Brazil match and Narey putting Scotland ahead and then Brazil just taking the poor Scots apart. And I remember Northern Ireland's run as well. Also remember racing home from School to watch afternoon games. Somehow I always expect to see Peru and Hungary and Austria and Chile in World Cups, just because they were at Spain '82.

    BUT my favourite World Cup memories all seem to revolve around Italia 90. That was my GCSE year, and as I remember it exams were pretty much all over before the tournament began, and was at an age when I could appreciate the football (and boy was it good!) but also had enough youthful naivety not to be cynical. Somehow Roger Mila, being an important figure in both Spain and Italy, is entrinsically linked with the World Cup in my mind. But Italia 90 had it all from Cameroon beating Argentina in the opening game, to Ireland's quarter final run, to the Scots being typically Scottish and bottling it totally, to England's growing momentum to some great players being well... great. And all set against a blazing hot summer. (1990 was a pretty goos summer for sport as I remember it, what with the footy, and Graham Gooch scoring a ton of runs, amongst other things.)

  • Comment number 70.

    Mine was Brazil '50. I had missed out on a few World cups over the war years so I was 18 when I got to see this. Who can forget England getting beaten one zip by the yanks!? Even now I feel gutted about that and then Brazil bottling it in the final against Uruguay. Magic. I always remember how the south american teams used to kick the utter %%%%e out of each other. It's just a shame we don't see more of that in the modern game although I admit to feeling great excitement during the Portugal-Holland game in 2006. Some of the foul play in that game was truly beautiful to watch.

  • Comment number 71.

    donttellthemissus you must remember the Chile v Italy game in 62. That was X rated and not for the players of today

  • Comment number 72.

    My first proper World Cup memories were of Italia '90 and it remains THE one I always think of whenever there is mention of the World Cup.

    For one summer, England seemed to genuinely believe we had a chance of winning it...not the same old "we might win it this year" throwaway thoughts that we all have every World Cup, but a real, tangible belief that we might do it. We had Gazza in the middle of the park and Lineker to stick it in the net....It didn't happen and the rest is history, but whenever I see re-runs of the games, there's still a part of me watching, waiting, hoping the result goes the other way, just like the first time. It never does.

    There seems to be a never ending list of reasons why that tournament sticks in my mind most and why I'll always look back on that as the best World Cup (unless we win it!!!).
    The passion of the Italians on home turf, Pavarotti belting out Nesun Dorma (Definitely the greatest World Cup theme song of all time!), Lothar Mattheus and Jurgen Klinsmann, Toto Schillaci, my first glimps of 'The Divine Ponytail' as Baggio went on to be known, Roger Milla dancing at the corner flag and teams like Costa Rica and Cameroon (two countries I had never heard of, let alone believed could be at a World Cup)....The list of memories goes on and on.

    For me, reeling off the list of those names still makes the hairs on my neck stand up - they seemed to be gods almost, and no-one would ever be as good as them...

    I love football.

  • Comment number 73.

    65 lostenecuador- cheers mate, it was etcheverry! I've also remembered a few other 'world cup wonders', namely Ruben Sosa of Uruguay, Gheorgi Hagi, Wim Kieft (I think I just liked his name) and of course Roger Milla. I think the amount of foreigners in Britain and the relentless exposure of the Champions League has meant there are fewer gems to be discovered at world cups now. Great memories though, I just nope NI can get to another finals...

  • Comment number 74.

    Italia 90 for me.

    Staying up late to watch the Semi against Germany and then goin into Infant School the next day and drawing a massive picture of the teams in the pitch. The disappointment still lives with me to this day.

    Great blog Tom, every word true!!

  • Comment number 75.

    Mexico 1970, as an 11 year old. Brazil were so brilliant, that even my Dad, who had no interest in football, watched. I don't care what anyone says, that Brazil forward line was not of this world.

  • Comment number 76.


    Sure mate. Quality stuff, players chasing each other around the pitch. All that was missing was the Benny Hill theme tune!

  • Comment number 77.

    Spain 82 for me.Seeing the Nou Camp and Bernabau staduims for the first time,Rossi scoring for fun,Robson scoring after just 27 secs,watching the best side never to win a world cup(Brazil)Narey scoring with a toe-punt(according to Jimmy Hill)stadiums that still had terraces,Spain having a player called Lopez Ufarte,watching my first penalty shoot out(France V W Germany)the BBC theme tune(taken from the musical Cats?)Maradonna getting kicked by Italys ironically named Claudio Gentle,Bulldog Bobby(what happened to the England mascot?) and watching the greatest game of all time unfold,Brazil v Italy...bliss

  • Comment number 78.

    1974 WC first for me. Watched Scotland v Yugoslavia at a neighbours because they had a colour TV and we had a black and white.

    I was lucky enough to be present to see Scotland beat Sweden 2-1 in Genoa in Italia '90. Fantastic performance and atmosphere. At the end of the game, a big Swede in full Viking get-up ran on to the pitch and started berating the Swedish players! It took half-a-dozen Italian coppers to drag him away.

    Thinking of saving up for Brazil 2014........

  • Comment number 79.

    My first world cup had sun tanned players, the curious shadow over the centre circle of the pitch, the “waves”, penalty shoot outs, the peculiarly perpendicular nets, and the boy Lineker with his arm in plaster.

    I cannot believe that is taking 28 years for the world cup to return to a Latin American country.

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm Brazilian and was 8 years old living in Rio de Janeiro during World Cup '94. I remember seeing how everything would stop during the games when Brazil played and how everyone would go to the streets and the bars and watch the games together.

    The tournament itself was amazing, we didn't have much faith in our "selecao" at the start, but soon they started winning and everyone could sense something was coming. The best part was that no matter where you were you felt like you were in a stadium, you could hear people yelling outside and clapping and cheering.

    During the final my entire large family watched it over at my Grandmother's house. I remember everyone staring intently at the tv, sufferring with every near miss and cringing at every tackle. After regulation and extra time I decided I had enough, I got up and left the room and went into a bedroom to pray. On my knees with my yellow jersey I sat crouched asking for a victory. I kept praying and after a little while God answered in the form of fireworks and people yelling, "E Tetra."

    I was 8 and that night we walked down to the beach (along with 250,000 other people) and my parents were too happy to care about our bedtime.

  • Comment number 81.

    I was around in 1990 but the first tournament I followed was in 1994, a much better tournament, notwithstanding the absence of any British team. That said, my Dad taped the BBC Boxing Day World Cup Review programme in 1990 and I've still got it today. It made the competition look better than it was.

  • Comment number 82.

    Champagnerocker; genius comments there. The weird shadows are still there!! I saw them on a Mexican game recently. Even on my american version of FIFA 08 (just not enough cash to get 09)they're on there. It's been said before but Peter Reid did look quite were wolf ish in 86

  • Comment number 83.

    The first World Cup I remember was USA '94. It was certainly my favourite World Cup, although I liked 2002. The football was generally exciting attacking stuff with lots of goals. England's absence was forgotten once the tournament was under way, and it was good to able to focus on other teams.

    I liked being able to watch a game in the evening and then find out what happened in the other group game the next morning. And I thought BBC's opening title sequence was brilliant - it really got you in the mood. But some of the games I wasn't able to watch because my Mum wouldn't let me stay up - and i could only negotiate to see the Final until half-time! (But it turned out that I didn't miss much in terms of spectacle)

  • Comment number 84.

    Being from Bedford, and growing up in an Italian family my first WC memory is of Italia 90 and my dad jumping off the chair and on all fours bounding cheetah like to the tv and kissing it when Toto Schillachi scored against Austria. The rest of that tournament is a blur until the semi's when I remember England going out and Italy going out and knowing I could console myself with the fact that my friends couldn't rib me anymore especially after the third place play off in which Shilton made a fool of himself.

    WC 94 - heartbreaking! Literally heartbreaking!

    WC 2006 was the best WC I have seen, I was lucky enough to see a lot of games including the greatest match of my lifetime, the semi-final in Dortmund between the hosts and the eventual champions! What a game!

    I wonder when another sport will inspire so many! Football World Cups, are possibly the greatest events in the world.

  • Comment number 85.

    Love this thread!

    1990 was my first & yes, the best. I accept everyone's subsequent comments about the standard of the football, but the festival-of-football aspect was like nothing I'd experienced.

    I just want to mention that my dad said that he missed the 1982 final to play with a 2 year-old me. I mean, all credit to him for dedicated parenting, but I mean who does that?!

    The 1986 tournament was, apparently, while we were on holiday in Greece, although I have a feeling we were home in time to watch the final. All I remember of it was a caption saying "Rumenigge".

    Anyway, 1990 was my first tournament, aged 10. The run-up to it involved collecting things called Cop-A-Cards which were issued by Merseyside Police & you got them from policemen on the street. There was one card for each member of the squad & one showing the whole squad posed together. If you collected all the cards, you could go to the police station & get a green card-holder thing to stick them in. Once I had them all, I faked autographs on them all - how sad! Probably reduced the value of them, too. Then it was collecting the WC guides. I must've had 10 or more, with wallcharts & everything. And yes, I've still got them.

    On the opening evening, my parents insisted I do homework instead of watch the match, so I had the radio on in my room while I was working... until they found out & made me switch it off! I suppose this was a recurring theme as they made me switch off West Germany v Holland at half-time to go to bed (but not before Voller & Rijkaard showered each other in spit!).

    I bought the highlights video almost as soon as it came out, so many of my "memories" are from the tape & not from the time itself. Things like Baggio's goal against Czechoslovakia, Platt's brilliant volley to knock out Belgium, Gazza crying, the missed pens etc. But there are a few memories that weren't on the tape...

    - Scotland v Costa Rica.
    - Matthaeus's single-handed destruction of Yugoslavia.
    - Argentine 'keeper Nery Pumpido being injured & replaced with Goycochea who was much better.
    - Colombian 'keeper Rene Higuita losing the ball to the aged-but- brilliant Roger Milla of Cameroon who scored 2 in that game. Milla always played the game at like half the pace of everyone around him - how did he make it look so easy?
    - Dezotti being sent off at the end of the final, after Monzon had become the first to be dismissed. I remember supporting Argentina for the majority of the match & switching allegiance when people kept getting sent off.

    Can I just add that Rudi Voller's tumble in the box was somewhat dubious, while Calderon was clearly tripped in the deep of the German box from a corner & Argentina weren't given a pen. Should've been 1-0 to the most defensive, negative side in WC history!

    1994 for me was sitting up with my dad watching the only exciting game of the tournament: Argentina v Romania.

    1998 was my A-Level summer & I watched every game in a different pub or friend's house, apart from the first game against Tunisia. Having completely failed my AS Electronics exam, I used the rest of the time to write a report of that game! Promised my dad I'd watch the final with him & then went & watched it next door & he wasn't happy!

    2002 I remember very little, other than I was staying at my then-girlfriend's family's house in Lytham over the time that we played Brazil & I overslept & missed the game. She & her family weren't the slightest bit bothered.

    2006 I watched most games in pubs in Liverpool, apart from the Sweden game (the good one) when I was in a random pub in London. The day we played Portugal was the wedding of a very good friend of mine & probably the hottest day of the summer. Several ushers/guests had secret radios & I was listening to the shoot-out with one of them when the speeches started. I think it was the groom who opened by saying we'd just lost on pens. So that's 2 WCs in a row where I've missed our last game.

    Sorry this is so long guys!

  • Comment number 86.

    The best BBC score IMO was the 1986 one. I once met the guy who wrote it. Fabulous watching it again on youtube.

    I was never keen on nessun dorma and the various classical ones.

    kencoQPR - Lopez ufarte still makes me chuckle. I guess you never really grow up.

  • Comment number 87.

    Wonderful thread.

    1974 was the first World Cup I remember.

    A glorious Holland side being mugged by West Germany in the Final.

    Also a Brazil team that were a pale shadow of the class of 1970.

  • Comment number 88.

    True True, your first is your best.

    '82 for me aswell, i was absolutley bewitched from when i got my Kinder surprise "Naranja" mascot thing all the way through to Tardellis celebration.

    I dont know if its TV's these days or what but it just seemed so much more colourful than now.

    Can remember running outside to tell me Dad who had won whilst he'd been at work. To which he usually responded to with some mildly xenophobic comment.

    Me and my mate still harbour the belief we'll be allowed to call one of kids Zico or Eder. Not Falcao though, great veins, rubbish hair.

  • Comment number 89.

    I say I have to disagree. For me the first WC was France, which, was Owen's goal, Beckham's stupidity and the mystery that was Ronaldo. Now, I think Japan and Korea was better.

    Imagine having the lessons disrupted so you can watch the games whilst in school, the cafeteria putting on special "World Cup" breakfasts so you can come in early and watch the matches as you eat, and then at lunch times reliving every moment from Beckham's redemption, to Seaman's despair as Ronaldihno beats him with that freekick, the return to glory of his team mate in the final against Germany, and the shock as Co-Host's South Korea and Turkey battle to the semi's and play in one of the best 3rd place-play off games by miles. For me, Japan and Korea was the World Cup I'll always remember.

    Unless, of course, Cappello brings the trophy home in 2010.

  • Comment number 90.

    great blog, could agree more. the first one regardless of the outcomes is always the most special...

    98 was my first, although being English and part Dutch had the pain of both my national sides being knocked out on penalties, which for that matter has happened a fair few times since.

  • Comment number 91.

    España '82 was also my very first World Cup. I was 10 at the time and funnily enough my family decided to wait until after the World Cup to move to Ciudad Real (Central Spain)...

    Memories: Celebrating Scotland's 5-2 win over New Zealand (and Brazil's demolition of Scotland a week later!!!), the Kuwaiti Sheikh's 1,000.000 peseta fine for the outburst onto the pitch, England's 0-0 draw with Spain, Spain's shock 1-1 draw with Honduras, the Spanish were very to draw as Santillana scored from the penalty spot (luck of the hosts maybe?)...

    ...and the worst thing of all was going to Leicester for the same weekend the Final was on. Stayed in the house of some religious nutters who didn't believe in TV on Sundays and missed the game (at the age of 10 I was considering going door-to-door asking peope I didn't know if it was ok to watch the match at their place!!!!)...

    I was a bit more fortunate for Mexico '86 !!

  • Comment number 92.

    Japan and South Korea was my first one, when i beileved England would cruise it with the likes of Beckham, Owen, Ferdinand and slightly older Seaman, scholsey, Heskey ( not truly great to be fair), and i remeber at school the heartache of watchin a 10 man brazil knock us out. Is it just because it was my first world cup or was that if any our best squad in recent years. Hopefully next year we'll have a still decent enough squad, Beckham if hes on form, Rooney, Ferdinand, Cole, Young (if Cappello leaves him out then the mans and idiot), i think we have a reasonable chance with a bit of luck, but we have a series of bad goalkeepers we need a better goalkeeper to do it.

  • Comment number 93.

    I'd have to disagree as my first world cup was USA '94. I was only 9 at the time but it must've been pretty flat with England not qualifying as the only game I can remember was the final, my only other memories of the tournament was of some wall chart and the fuss about some guy called Maradona going mental after scoring. However France 98 I remember every England game, and where I was when I watched it, and who I was with. Euro 96 before it was the most special however.

  • Comment number 94.

    As an 11 year old, I had a wallchart from the paper for italia 90, and predicted all the scores for every game, worked out who i thought would qualify and play who in the next round etc. I actually guessed two of scotland's games correctly, beating sweden then losing to brazil, unfortunately the 5-0 win over costa rica in the first match didnt come true!

    The abiding memories of the tournament are - My Dad breaking a bone in his hand accidently punching a hole in the ceiling when scotland scored v sweden (a penalty!) and a montage shown just after we lost against brazil- all the missed chances, players reactions etc in slow motion with "nessun dorma" playing in the background- had me in floods of tears.

  • Comment number 95.

    Did anyone have the small hardback penguin (I think) books where you filled out the scores and stuff. I remember reading those after my brothers filled them out for 82 and 86. I vaguely remember 82, Rossi in particular and that game between Italy and Brazil. Hungary winning 10-1 against El Salvador. My first memory of a live game was Lineker 3 Poland 0. 1990 was the best though, especially Platts goal and Cameroon, every kid danced in the corner of the yard when they scored a goal in school after that.
    Cracking stuff.

  • Comment number 96.

    1978... and Arie Haan scores the greatest goal in the entire history of the game. The wonderful Dutch team are 1-1 with Italy in their final game of the second group phase. No semi-finals in Argentina '78, it's round robin and, at 1-1, the Italians are 'catenaccioing' their way to the final. Holland must win. Enter Mr. Haan (a right back, I seem to recall - but those were the days of totaal foetball). From about 40 yards out, and about 10 yards in from the left hand touchline, he unleashes the most extraordinary right foot missile - he's so far out that Zoff, in the Italian goal, could have managed a quick glass of Pinot Grigio while awaiting it's arrival, but there's nothing he can do anyway and the ball screams into the top right hand corner. Holland win 2-1 and are in the World Cup Final. No-one has ever score a better goal that was as important as Haan's. I've watched it time and again and it continues to amaze - I swear that ball would be orbiting the planet if the net hadn't got in the way. Marvellous stuff!!

    What a wonderful side that Dutch team was. I'm too young to remember the 1974 Dutch team and they were said to be even better (well, they should've been, they had Cruyff) but the '78 team was also special - Johnny Rep, Johan Neeskens, the Van Der Kerkhoff twins, and best of all, the superb, scandalously underrated (and largely forgotten) Robbie Rensenbrink - as good a player as I've ever seen. I find the perennial fuss about Brazil every time a world cup comes around to be rather bemusing - they're just another bunch of European style chasers these days, too scared to play with wingers and 10 men behind the ball at every opportunity. About the only thing they have in common with Pele, Garrincha, Tostao, Zico, Socrates et al, are the shirts they wear - which sadly is enough to fool most BBC/ITV football 'experts' who gaze at them through gold tinted specs and wax lyrical about 'The Beautiful Game'. Ugh, it's enough to make you want to throw up. Frankly, the 'Beautiful Game' moved it's headquarters from Brazil to Holland in c.1974, and, with the occasional exception (1982, for example), it's resided there ever since. It's a crying shame that this fantastic football nation, which has given so much pleasure, and so many great players to the world, has never taken the ultimate step and won the big one. Naturally, in 1982, they were cheated out of the final - the Argentine Junta, having taken care of the situation to ensure a 6-0 win over a (damn good) Peruvian team just to get into the final, did a similar number on the ref. for the final and the rest is history. I think Johnny Rep has been quoted as saying he was glad Holland lost - he swears they'd never have made it out of the stadium alive if they'd won.

    P.S. Has anyone realised Diego Maradona's rather special feat of managing to disgrace himself at 4 consecutive World Cups (sent off for kicking a Brazilian in the stomach in 1982, the 'Hand of God' in 1986, captain of an Argentinian side that had 2 players sent off in the final in 1990 and just about debased the game that day - remember him blubbing whilst the Germans were collecting the trophy - and, last but not least, failing a drugs test and getting sent home in 1990. Way to go Diego Armando!! Anyone else know another player that can match that CV?

  • Comment number 97.

    Mexico 86 for me. I was a wee bit too young to appreciate España 82, despite Davey Narey's glorious thunderbolt against Brazil. Mexico was a spectacular, sun-drenched explosion of 80s technicolor. Queen and Robert Palmer provided the soundtrack (as did Bananarama, unfortunately, though whenever my eardrums are assaulted by 'Venus', by way of compensation I get Proustian evocations of this marvellous footballing event, which is nice!) The tournament was lit up by all manner fantastic goals (Josimar, Negrete to name but two), scintillating individual performances (especially from one Diego Armando Maradona), and brilliant goal celebrations (Gordon Strachan's "leg-over" v W. Germany after "attempting" to propel his diminutive frame over the advertising hoardings gets my vote; pound for pound still the funniest ever).

    Scotland were predictably drawn in the so-called Group of Death. Two highly credible performances versus the Danes and the West Germans sadly produced no points. The ignominious final group game against Uruguay still gives me nightmares. Brutally kicked off the park by the worst collection of footballing assassins since Argentina attempted to butcher their way past England in '66, Scotland predictably failed to grasp a golden opportunity to qualify for the 2nd round. Stevie Nicol's woeful side-footed "attempt" at a practically empty goal which gave the Uruguayan goalie all the time in the world to recover from a hopelessly stranded position can still produce a volley of foul-mouthed invective from me, just by thinking about it. Gah! Once again, after yet another campaign which had shown much promise, Scotland skulked home with their tails between their legs.

    Then there was England, who after a pretty rocky start sparked spectacularly into life with a cracking 3-0 victory v Poland, courtesy of a Gary Lineker hattrick. Paraguay were duly dispatched in similar fashion in the 2nd round, before the moment of reckoning with hot favourites Argentina. I do think that had John Barnes been introduced to the game earlier, England would have at least got to extra time. But little Diego was not to be denied, both by fair means and foul. If his 'divine' hand was greeted with howls of disgust this side of the equator, his second goal will probably go down as the greatest ever scored. It was like watching some Biblical tale unfolding before your very eyes.

    But despite the pyrotechnics and controversy produced by El Dieguito, the best game of the tournament was France v Brazil, a thrilling 1-1 draw which was eventually decided in France's favour by Luis Fernandez's penalty kick. It was everything a World Cup game should be: a spectacular carnival of attacking flair. And the most exciting game of football I had ever seen, and I don't think I've seen much better since.

    I certainly have not seen a better World Cup than Mexico 86.

  • Comment number 98.

    Someone earlier said that 1974 was dull which is an unbelievable comment considering that one of the best football teams and players ie Holland and Cruyff graced the tournament. This was my first as a 7 year old and I loved it except for the final but hey Germany only had Maier, Beckenbauer and Muller in their side. Also Scotland thrashed Brazil 0-0 and were the only unbeaten team in the competition!

  • Comment number 99.

    My first World Cup memory was coming home with Nana after going shopping at Woolworths. Coming into our living room my uncle John was sitting there with his father-in-law Jim, surrounded by bottles of Double Diamond and watching Geoff Hurst score #4. I had absolutely no clue what all the excitement was about being only 5 but I knew something important had just happened.
    Mexico 70 was the first time (but God only knows, not the last!) football broke my heart. When Bobby Charlton was substituted that was it, I knew we were going to lose. Gerd Muller and Uwe Seeler just drove the nails in the coffin.
    Other great memories include Archie Gemmell's goal against Holland - still one of the best ever, Lineker equalizing against Germany, Maradonna's hand (I still hate him!) Owen's wonder against Argentina. I could go on and on but you're all right - like all the other good things in life, you never ever forget your first time!

  • Comment number 100.

    France '98 was my first world cup I watched. It might also of been the first football I watched but I cant remember.

    I know I cried like a baby when we went out against the Argies, and like every other fan, I blamed Becks for everything.

    Then there was Korea/Japan '02 - 4 years later and I still cried.
    Germany '06 was the same
    Im pretty sure South Africa '10 will be the same aswell.

    Kinda wish I was a bit older than 20 so I can remember when England were a good team...


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