Even if you don't know a single thing about football, you'll probably have been aware of a classic football moment at some point in your life. It might have been Archie Gemmill's mazy dribble and superb goal for Scotland against Holland in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Or the story of Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann who played the last 15 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup Final with a broken neck. Or perhaps it was the recent thrilling golden goal scored in the Japan/Korea 2002 World Cup Finals by South Korean legend Ahn Jung Hwan, elimnating the once mighty Italians from the World Cup, sending them back home to lick their wounds.
You'll probably have much more to add in the threads at the bottom of the entry, but for starters, here's a selection of glorious footballing moments provided by the h2g2 Community
Gazza's Best Goal?
There's a lot been said about Paul Gascoigne - not all of it good - but for better or worse, the man was undeniably a footballing genius who brought a great deal of pleasure into the lives of many, many people. When folk think of Paul Gascoigne - or Gazza, as he's known - they will generally remember the World Cup in 1990, or his fantastic goal against Scotland in '96. However, here's another cherished Gazza memory:
I'll always remember Gazza for the free kick he scored for Spurs against Arsenal in the first FA Cup semi-final to be played at Wembley in 1991.
I was only about 11 or 12 at the time, but I can still remember it as he struck an awesome free-kick from a good 30 yards out. Unlike most free-kicks you see today, this one had no bend on at all, it was simply struck with great power and flew straight into the top corner beating David Seaman in the Arsenal goal.
We went on, not only to beat our deadly rivals 3-1 on the day, but to lift the Cup itself after beating Nottingham Forest in the final. The biggest tragedy of all though was that Gascoigne, after inspiring us into the final, committed a wreckless foul in the early stages of the final in which he came off worse. Down to that injury, he was never the same player again really, and you have to wonder just how great both Gazza and England could have gone on to be had he not lost his head in that Cup Final.
I'll still remember him for that goal though, that stopped Arsenal winning the double, and gave us the chance to win the only FA Cup that I can remember Spurs winning.
Gazza v Scotland, 1996
Probably a popular choice, but quite simply the most sublime moment of football I have ever seen. I well remember the two seconds of uncomprehending silence in the pub before absolute bedlam broke out. Shallow as this may sound, it really is one of the most cherished moments of my life, for all sorts of reasons. Fantastic - getting goose bumps even now, writing this.
An awkward ball was played to Gazza, who was 25 yards from the Scotland goal, with no support and, with a Scottish defender in front of him, seemingly nowhere to run. In one unbroken movement, he flipped the ball over the defender with the outside of his boot, ran around him and smashed a low shot past the keeper, who was stranded.
It was, of course, a fantastic piece of skill. The control, the lob over the defender, the clinical finish. But what really sets it apart is the sheer arrogance - such moments display not merely skill, but genius. A million other players would've held up play, looked around, maybe passed the ball back, waited for support - ie, the sort of things you're supposed to do in that situation.
It was this that silenced the pub - people simply could not believe what they were seeing, could not believe the ball was in the net and not ballooned into the crowd somewhere, could not believe that a written-off Gazza was dumbfounding his critics yet again - and all against Scotland, in the sunshine at Wembley. Fantastic. I've got goose bumps again!
Stuart Pearce's Penalty in Euro '96
OK, so I'm a Nottingham Forest fan but I think everyone in the country loved this one.
Spain versus England at Wembley in the quarter finals of Euro '96. It ends as a draw and drags through to the dreaded penalty shoot-out. When it comes to Stuart Pearce's1 turn everyone murmurs, worrying about his last infamous penalty shoot out attempt during Italia90 (where he missed). He steps up and blasts the ball as hard as possible (a penalty tactic he happily admits to using) easily beating the keeper and nearly breaking the back of the net. The visible relief and joy of burying that less-well taken penalty to the past, all came out as Pearcey screamed and punched the air, having at last buried his demons. Wembley Stadium goes mad.
1999 Women's World Cup Finals
It was the US versus China in the 1999 Women's World Cup Finals. Playing before a sold-out crowd at the Rose Bowl in California the teams were even at the end of regulation time and the game went to penalty kicks to decide it. US goalie Briana Scurry was brilliant in net all day and she kept her squad in it during the shoot-out.
But the moment that helped establish a professional women's game in the US was when Brandi Chastain fired home the winner and tore off her jersey. Truly a classic moment in American soccer. And maybe not the last...
Germany 1 - England 5, World Cup Qualifier 2001
This was an important World Cup qualifier, held in Munich in September 2001, with a lot of history behind the two teams. England expected a very tight match. They did not get what they expected:
A match filled with great tension, no one was expecting this result, even in their wildest dreams. When England went 1-0 down the fans feared the worst, but a mixture of cool headedness and brutal confidence kept the England team going, and the goals started flying in. Pure brilliance.
Click here to read more about the game.
World Cup Finals 2002 - Irish Star Player Roy Keane Sent Home!
The stunned reaction in Ireland to Roy Keane getting the heave-ho from the Ireland squad probably caused a jump on seisometers...
Roy Keane is regarded as the linchpin of the Irish team - probably the best football player ever to come from Ireland. However, it seems he wasn't in the best of form even before he went to Japan. No sooner had he arrived in Saipan, things started to unravel. According to Keane, the pitch was too hard, the gear didn't arrive on time, and the management were amateurs. He got stuck into some of the other players and coaches, and temporarily announced that he was returning home. It all ended in tears when he had a massive blow-out with the Ireland team boss, Mick McCarthy. The net effect - Roy was sent packing, to the shock of the footballing world. This is what h2g2 Community were saying then:
Where do we go from now, who knows? I still think the Irish team will do their best, but this mess has come at the worst possible time for the team. Hopefully the media will give the team a break in the next few days so they can concentrate on the job... I think the debacle will be remembered for a long long time here.
Let's hope that the result will be a bringing together of the rest of the squad and a building of some real team spirit which Keane seemed intent on trying to destroy in favour of his own personal importance. In case you haven't guessed I'm not Keane's greatest fan. Superb player, but a complete t**t. And hasn't he just shown himself to be exactly that.
Win or lose, it's better to come out at the end with good memories, with dignity and honour intact. I'm not saying it's better to play the game then to win (although, old-fashioned as it is there's a lot of truth in the sentiment) but to assume that Keane alone would make the difference between losing 7-0 to Cameroon and stuffing France in the final is mistaken. He's a great player, and Ireland's best player, but he's one man.
The outcome? Ireland were magnificent and Roy Keane wasn't missed at all. Narrowly losing to Spain on penalties in the second round stages of the World Cup, Ireland were a joy to watch - Robbie Keane and Damien Duff, in particular, were fabulous - Duff possibly one the best players in the whole tournament. Brilliant stuff, Ireland!
Woking, 1990/91 FA Cup
Yes, you heard right - Woking. Where is it? It's a town in Surrey in the south of England, and they provided a classic footballing moment all of their own...
I'm going to have to throw in the 1990/91 FA Cup third round match between West Brom (then of the second division - now part of the Premiership) and Woking FC, who were at that point not even in The Football Conference. There were about 100 clubs between them in the league and the result was a foregone conclusion...
Anyway, to cut a long (well, 90 minute) story short, Woking won the match 4-2 in one of the great FA Cup upsets - the kind of result which makes the FA Cup the most interesting domestic trophy in the world. The highlight of the match was the great hat-trick from Tim Buzaglo, whose career was unfortunately ended shortly afterwards through injury. Woking went on to play First Division Everton in the next round, and were unfortunate to lose just 1-0.
I didn't get to see the match (I was on a university trip playing badminton in Holland at the time), and I heard the result at about midnight while sat in the pouring rain in a mini-bus waiting for the weather to subside so they'd let us on the ferry. I think I managed to deafen the other 11 occupants when I heard the score...
Some people know where they were when Kennedy was shot, some know what they were doing when they heard about Princess Diana - I know where I was when I heard Woking had beaten West Brom in the FA Cup. It's a funny old world...
You said it.
A Lovely Danish Moment
A real moment must be Michael Laudrup and Ebbe Sand creating one of the three goals against Nigeria in the last World Cup.
Michael was running left just outside the Nigerian box. He looks to his left and while the whole defence kind of follows that, plays to his own blind side, into the box. Ebbe Sand catches the ball with his breast, tames it and wham! Goal! Perfect ballet, immense amount of forward thinking and three dimensional skills. Wow!.
And a Lovely Dutch Moment
It was Holland versus Argentina in the 1998 World Cup Finals. Bergkamp takes a 60-yard pass calmly out of the air with one touch, turns a defender inside out with another and cracks it home with the third. The match ended 2-1. Class act.
See where it ranks in the World Cup Archive's top ten greatest World Cup goals of all time.
World Cup 1992 - Spain versus Northern Ireland
It was 1992 and Spain were hosting the World Cup. They were holding all their group one matches in Valencia, a city where the national team had never lost. In the final game they were facing the unfancied team from Northern Ireland who needed a win to stand any realistic chance of not getting the next plane back to Belfast.
In the second half Billy Hamilton shot from 30 yards out. Arconada couldn't hold on to it and Gerry Armstrong lunged unto the rebound. It hit the back of the net. Northern Ireland 1 Spain 0. Mal Donaghy was then sent off reducing the Northern Irish to 10 men, but the team galantly held on to win. Northern Ireland topped the group and went on to play France and Austria in the second phase. A dubious offside against Austria may have changed the outcome. But on that night the result from Valencia made Ireland sing as it had not done since 1958.
Carlos Alberto, 1970 World Cup
Brazil's last goal in their 4-1 victory over Italy in the 1970 World Cup final is a classic. Starting from deep in their own half the Brazilians casually pass the ball from player to player, moving passed the Italians as if they were statues.
Coming into attack the Italian goal, Jairzinho threads the ball to Pelé who casually lays it off to his right on the edge of the penalty area. Then, thundering into the camera shot from the top right comes Carlos Alberto who connects and blasts the ball into the bottom corner of the Italian goal. Game over.
What makes it so unique is that the whole move was shot with one camera in that sort of fuzzy 1970s video way, where you can't quite see exactly what is happening. If it had been done nowadays there would be half a dozen cameras on Alberto and we would have seen the goal coming. It's the surprise of his sudden appearance in camera shot, and the instantaneous change in the tempo of the game that makes it so special.