Football fans across the world are getting excited about their country’s prospect of lifting the famous World Cup trophy. England have a lot of history in this competition, and we will look back at some of their best moments.
David Beckham’s redemption penalty vs Argentina, 2002
This goal was a monumental moment for the England captain. He had gone from hero to zero. After his goal against Colombia in 1998 helped him grab the headlines for the right reasons he became a national disgrace for kicking out at Diego Simeone in the second round and was blamed for his country’s exit.
Four years later England faced Argentina in the group stage of the World Cup in Sapporo, Japan. When Michael Owen was brought down by Mauricio Pochettino, contentiously, and Pierluigi Collina pointed to the spot there was only one man who was taking the penalty for England. David Beckham stepped up, ignoring the distractions from his nemesis Simeone, and smashed the ball home straight down the middle. Beckham could not control his emotion and passion as he ran towards the corner flag, grabbing his shirt and roaring at the adoring fans. Redemption was complete.
Michael Owen’s solo goal vs Argentina, 1998
Another moment against Argentina, the old enemy, as England looked to get one over them in the second round of the World Cup in France. Their hope laid heavily on the shoulders of Michael Owen, who had burst onto the international scene at the age of just 18 years old with a goal on the spin against Romania.
Owen was given a start against Argentina, and the stage was set. Both sides were level at 1-1, and David Beckham was on the ball in his own half. He noticed Owen was waiting for a pass, he delivered, as the youngster took the ball down and used all his pace to escape the grasping Jose Chamot. Once he escaped Chamot, he showed Roberto Ayala the wrong way, as he shimmied to the right and advanced into the penalty area. It looked like Paul Scholes was about to take the shot, but Owen continued and smashed the ball past Carlos Roa. It was a whirlwind of a goal and capped off the excellent start he made in his career.
Gordon Banks’ save vs Brazil, 1970
England came into the 1970 World Cup as red hot favourites, but they had the tricky task of getting one over on other red-hot favourites Brazil. Both sides had won their first game in the group, but this was the fixture that was highly anticipated; many thought it would go on to be the final as well. With the attacking talent of Pele and Jairzinho, it meant that Bobby Moore and co. would have to be at their best.
The game saw moments of brilliance from Jairzinho’s superb goal to Moore’s tackle which was described as “the tackle of the century” but they were not as good as England goalkeeper Gordon Banks’ save in the 18th minute. The ball was played into the box by the danger man Jairzinho, who managed to keep it in play, and he found Pele, who was seven yards out, battling in the air with Tommy Wright. Pele outjumped the England defender, and his downward header looked certain to find the bottom corner. However, Banks had other ideas as he flung himself down to his right and turned the ball around for a corner. Still to this day Pele doesn’t know how he did not score.
David Platt’s volley vs Belgium, 1990
This tournament proved to be one of England’s most successful and the first and only time since 1966 that they would reach a semi-final of a World Cup. However, it looked like they would be missing out on a potential quarter-final with Cameroon as the game seemed to be heading towards penalties. The curse of penalties did not yet exist in English football folklore, and it could have all been different if David Platt had not have scored this goal.
With the game drifting off into a hard-fought 0-0 draw, manager Bobby Robson must have been thinking about his first five takers for the shootout. However, England’s youthful player of the tournament, Paul Gascoigne, had other ideas as he picked up the ball in his own half, sent Lei Clijsters the wrong way with a deceptive turn and burst off. He surged into the Belgium half with enthusiasm and poise but found himself fouled by the despairing Eric Gerets who had followed his advances for about 20 yards. Gascoigne stood up and took the free kick, sending the ball high into the right-hand side of the penalty box. David Platt managed to evade his marker, watch the ball come over his right shoulder like a sniper taking in his target and then BANG! On the spin, he volleyed one into the far side of the goal leaving Michel Preud’homme utterly helpless. Cue ecstasy in the stands, the England bench and amongst the England players.
Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick vs West Germany, 1966
The most famous England game of all time and it was capped off by one of the most famous moments ever. England had managed to do it on home soil, and they reached the final of the World Cup, but they faced tough opposition in Germany; who were looking to claim their 2nd World Cup. However, Wembley was buzzing with excitement and the two sides played out a classic as they traded goal for goal; if you can class Geoff Hurst’s second as a goal. His first might have been a great header but there is still contention to this day about the goal, and if it crossed the line, however, his third was a real cracker.
With the game concluding after Hurst’s controversial goal put England into a 3-2 lead, with still 19 minutes left of extra time, Germany were throwing everything at England to get back level, but this was their undoing.
With all the players on the pitch ready to collapse with exhaustion, Hurst found it within himself to have one more drive at goal. The ball was played long by Bobby Moore, who had seen the referee put the whistle to his lips, and Hurst takes it in his stride and runs towards goal.
With the German midfielder Wolfgang Overath chasing him down, he swung his left foot at the ball and smashed it with all his might past the despairing Hans Tilkowski. With fans encroaching onto the pitch prior to the goal, it led commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme to utter those famous words “Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over”. When the ball rustles the net, he exclaimed: “It is now!” It is the greatest moment in English football history, and Hurst has since revealed that he was aiming to smash the ball over the bar to kill time. It made him the first England international to score a hat-trick at Wembley and go down in history.