If you’re a longtime fan of all things World Cup, then there’s no doubt there are a whole slew of core memories ingrained in your brain from the most iconic soccer games of all time. Who else remembers watching the fútbol matches with your dad and cousins, screaming “GOL!” at the top of your lungs until your abuela begs you to stop?
For millions and millions of fútbol fans all around the world, this sport is about way more than kicking a ball around a soccer field, it is a collection of moments shared with our loved ones growing up, crying at the losses and jumping around and cheering at the hard-earned wins. And yes, shout out to our collection of World Cup sticker albums we obsessively traded back in middle school.
On that note and with the World Cup 2022 right at the corner, we decided to compile some of the most noteworthy moments in all of World Cup history, including the still-traumatizing “No era penal.”
1. First things first: no era penal!
Who can forget Mexico’s “no era penal” moment in their 2014 World Cup match against the Netherlands? Even though Mexico led spectacularly for almost half the game, Rafa Márquez was given a yellow card by the end — gifting Netherlands a penalty that people still contest to this day. Mexico was eliminated 2-1, and yes, we’re still mad about it!
2. Uruguayan Luis Suarez’s handball against Ghana in 2010’s World Cup
Another moment in World Cup history that continues to put people on the fence is Uruguayan player Luis Suarez’s handball against Ghana in 2010. Infamously despised in Ghana because of it, Suarez’s tactical handball led to a red card for him — and a penalty for Ghana. At a tie, Ghana lost their penalty, leading to a penalty shootout that Uruguay won 4-2. He took one for the team, but many saw the move as unethical.
3. Colombia’s James Rodriguez taking on Japan in the 2014 World Cup and scoring a goal that rivals any goal ever
Who else can remember watching the 2014 World Cup from your parents’ couch that fateful summer, seeing Colombia’s James Rodriguez score goal after goal for his country’s team? That year’s breakout megastar, Rodriguez might be remembered for that goal against Uruguay’s team, but this one he scored against Japan is a masterclass in el hermoso juego.
4. Messi’s three goals for Argentina in the qualifier game against Ecuador for the 2018 World Cup
Who can forget Argentine national hero Lionel Messi’s whopping three goals for Argentina against Ecuador back in 2017? Even though Ecuador scored a goal immediately once the game started, Messi retaliated with three goals and an iconic 3-1 win that sent his country to the next round. Of course, this is a memory that’s sweet-as-alfajores for Argentina — admittedly not so much for Ecuador.
5. Luis Hernandez’s 94th-minute goal for Mexico against Netherlands in 1998’s World Cup
If you want to go back in time, why not stop at Luis Hernandez’s legendary goal in the Mexico vs. Netherlands 1998 World Cup match? “El Matador” Hernandez’s second goal at the 94th-minute was nothing short of shocking, securing a 2-2 that qualified Mexico for the next phase.
6. Argentina’s win against England in their 1998 World Cup match
That same year, few could ever erase the memory of David Beckham getting a red card in England’s World Cup game against Argentina in 1998. Beckham was sent off, and the teams ended with a 2-2 score, leading to a penalty shoot-out. With the penalties ending in 4-3 in Argentina’s favor, it was a clear win for Latin Americans that the English are still quite salty about.
7. Our dads will never forget Manuel Negrete’s 1986 World Cup goal against Bulgaria
If you go back in time even further, you’ll find an iconic moment for Mexicans and Latinos in general: Manuel Negrete’s scissor-goal against Bulgaria in 1986, which is so beautiful you have to see it to believe it. Mexico won 2-0, which was particularly special because it was also the host country that year.
8. When Luis Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup
In slightly more bizarre memories, 2014 saw much more than just Germany’s final win: it also saw Uruguayan player Luis Suarez biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. Really. At the Uruguay-Italy game that ended with a 1-0 win for Uruguay, Suarez was fiercely criticized for the move, even though he said it was “in no way a bite or intent to bite.” While he explained it as, “I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent” (teeth first?), he was then banned for nine subsequent matches by FIFA.
9. In 2002’s World Cup, Brazil’s Ronaldinho took on Germany and scored two of the most epic goals ever
Just to keep the excitement going for this year’s game, let’s end on a positive note: as in, Ronaldinho’s iconic goals for Brazil against Germany in the 2002 World Cup final. We’ll never forget Ronaldinho’s mind-blowing two goals that game, leading him to win the Golden Boot for leading scorer that year, too.
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