3 of the most shocking World Cup moments from history

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Don’t deny you’ve been tuning into the World Cup this year. Even if you weren’t before, you definitely have been since Tuesday. We’re all right there with you. From Japan’s surprising 2-1 victory against Colombia (who did not have a good year) to Argentina’s ‘Great Escape’ against Nigeria, this year has already given us a tonne of moments worth watching. England even won a game on penalties!

Our chances are looking better than ever that we’ll get to see our lads blast their way to ultimate victory this year, as seen on many of our men’s World Cup T-Shirts! Until then, though, let’s look back on some of the most legendary World Cup moments from past tournaments…

Bergkamp’s beautiful three-point touch

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Due to his fear of flying, Dennis Bergkamp has long been nicknamed the Non-Flying Dutchman by affectionate Arsenal supporters. One of football’s more down-to-earth and fashionable men, he’s also known as an icon of men’s urban style. Here’s something we bet you didn’t know about him, though – as a kid, he was absolutely obsessed with geometry. Even though his adult career obviously leans toward the sporting side, his ability to quickly calculate angles and his lighting-fast reactions led him to score ‘Dennis Bergkamp’s Wonder Goal’ in 1998.

Holland was pitted against Argentina, and so far it had been a pretty level game. Frank de Boer made what he later generously described ‘a long pass’ down the pitch. Luckily, Bergkamp was waiting for it. He made a lightning series of split-second decisions, and then brought the ball down with a single touch. He switched his body shape and pivoted on the spot, right round Roberto Ayala. Then, to the amazement of everyone watching, he tapped it straight past the goalkeeper, Carlos Roa. It was truly beautiful football.

“You’re in that moment.” Bergkamp said later. “After the first two touches, that moment! It’s like your life has led up to this moment.” We can’t fault you on that one, Dennis.

Diego Maradona’s infamous Hand of God

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You probably hardly need any introduction to this one. Legendary player Diego Maradona has been back in the news in the last few weeks with his…er, passionate celebrations at his country’s victory over Nigeria, and some choice comments about England’s win on Tuesday. But that’s almost nothing compared to the tension between England and Argentina back in 1986.

In the midst of the 1980s – that well-loved time of stylish men’s shorts and larger-than-life haircuts – Maradona was Argentina’s star player, so all eyes were instantly on him even as he passed the ball away to teammate Jorge Valdano and continued his run towards the England goal. Valdano misjudged his timing, and the ball reached England player Steve Hodge. Hodge tried to hook it clear but also made a mistake, slicing it too close to England’s penalty box. Goalkeeper Peter Shilton came out of the penalty area to clear it away from Maradona, who was sprinting at full pelt.

Both reached the ball at the same time, and jumped. On instinct, Maradona raised his left hand…and basically, slapped the ball into the England goal. No word of a lie. Both the referee and his assistant missed the blatant illegality of the move, and the goal stood. England fans were, to put it politely, not at all happy.

In post-match interviews, Maradona would go on to say that the goal was scored ‘a little bit with the hand of Maradona and a little bit with the hand of God.’ So, it came to be known as ‘the Hand of God’ goal. Four minutes later, Maradona would put on another spectacular run and score the world-famous Goal of the Century, and that was England out of the World Cup. That knockout is still a sore point for many England football fans!

Zinedine Zidane uses his head

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It’s a common sports joke that footballers are known to take the odd dive occasionally. Obviously we’re naming no names (Ronaldo). But there was nothing put-on about the display during the France and Italy World Cup match back in 2006. It was a close game. The France fans were particularly on edge – many of them really didn’t expect to get this far in the tournament. Deep into extra time, Zidane almost scored, which put the on-pitch rivalry at an all-time high.

Then, the clash. The Italian player Marco Materazzi was briefly seen goading Zidane with words only he could hear. He turned out to be making some comments about Zidane’s family that could best be described as unprofessional. The rest of the pitch was alerted to that when Zidane turned abruptly and floored Materazzi with a vicious headbutt to the chest. It was one of the most shocking displays of violence seen in years during the World Cup tournament, and it cast a shadow over Zidane’s exit from professional playing.

It’s still not quite as memorable as the scene you’ll find on our aptly-named Vinnie Jones Takes Out Kid White T-Shirt, in which the star player ruthlessly challenges the Leeds mascot. The mascot, Robert Kelly, was five years old at the time, but he lived, apparently. If tackled by Vinnie Jones, we should all be so lucky!

As you keep your breath bated for this year’s World Cup victories (come on England!), why not take a look at our other World Cup tees, or keep it loose for your own sporting style with our Dead Legacy joggers?

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