World Cup history: The tournament’s most unforgettable events

blond world cup romania 1998
The team that dyes their hair blond stays together, apparently.
Credit: Getty

France 1998: Blonde ambition

The Romanian football team shows “dye” hard nationalism with their bleached barnets before their group match against Tunisia during the ’98 World Cup. But clearly they had a blonde moment when they lost to Croatia in the last 16.

diana ross world cup
Diana Ross can hit the high notes but she can’t shoot a goal.
Credit: Via Metro World News

USA 1994: There ain’t no goal wide enough

She’s known for many chart-topping hits but Diana Ross certainly wasn’t on song for her penalty kick during the opening ceremony in USA ’94. What should have been a guaranteed goal turned into an epic miss when the diva struck wide. But in a case of the show must go on, the keeper dived the wrong way and the goal posts shattered as planned. Talk about match fixing.

world cup paul the octopus
Was Paul the octopus the real star of 2010′s World Cup?
Credit: Via Metro World News

South Africa 2010: Gambling octopus gone but not forgotten

Paul the octopus had his tentacles on the betting pulse when he correctly predicted the outcome of eight matches, including Spain as the eventual winners. After an illustrious career as a bookmaker, Paul sadly passed away in late 2010 at his home at the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany.

zidane world cup head butt
Zidane’s head butt was heard around the world.
Credit: Getty

Germany 2006: Butt-end of the joke Zidane heads out of World Cup

French football star Zinedine Zidane uses his head (for all the wrong reasons) during the 2006 World Cup final against Italy. The French captain headbutted goal scorer Marco Materazzi in the chest after the Italian allegedly provoked Zidane by insulting his sister. The French team held onto for a penalty shootout but it was Italy who took the day with a 5-3 victory.

The Forties: The World Cup goes into hiding

The original World Cup is not as you know it. The Jules Rimet Trophy, modelled on a statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, almost ended up in the stockpile of Nazi gold. The story goes that FIFA vice-president Ottorino Barassi, fearing that the footballing icon would be stolen, removed the trophy from its Roman bank and hid it in a shoebox under his bed. Luckily, the Nazis never thought to look under Barassi’s bed and the trophy was safely returned to FIFA headquarters.

hector castro world cup
Hector Castro was known as the one-armed wonder.
Credit: Via Metro World News

Hector Castro: One-armed wonder

In a time well before the Paralympics and player-friendly prosthetics, handicapped footballers were forced to make the best of it. And for one-armed Uruguayan Hector Castro, it didn’t matter a jot. He was one of the highest scoring and talented players on the pitch who helped his team to victory with a winning header to secure a 4-2 victory against Argentina in the inaugural World Cup final in 1930.

vuvuzela south africa world cup
Watch out for those vuvuzela injuries!
Credit: Getty

South Africa: Vuvuzela injury causes woman to pipe down

One football fan huffed and puffed and blew herself into a hospital bed with a tracheal rupture. Yvonne Mayer, an insurance saleswoman from Cape Town, had been overzealously tooting on the irritating vuvuzuela during a street party before becoming incapacitated for several days after the event.


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