Oluwamayowa Idowu: The ball falls to Sunday Oliseh. He hits it first time. The ball flies past Zubizaretta. In that moment, my love for football is born. Oliseh’s celebration dedicated to Joseph Dosu was joy unbridled.
Another one would be the England vs Germany game in 2010. I still think it’s the best international game I’ve seen in my life and the wider events are important to me. At the time, I was in boarding school in the middle of England and shared a room with a German. We got German flags and went to watch the game with (and troll) in a room full of Englishmen.
It was never in doubt that Germany would win, but no one expected it to be so emphatic. Looking back, the level of inadequacy in that England team is staggering: David ‘Calamity’ James was in goal, Matthew Upson (who scored) partnered John Terry and Gareth Barry was able to reenact the modern day Tortoise vs Hare. All second tier players at best.
That marked the arrival of a new generation of Germans and a reminder as to why they are one of the successful international teams.
Back to my story, once it became 3-1, I got very noisy and laughed at the English. Obviously, it nearly caused a fight.
Folarin Gbenro: I have three clear ones from the 2006 world cup specifically maybe because I was 17 then so I remember the games a lot better than I do 2002 and 1998 but here goes;
The 1st and clearest for some reason is Ronaldo running through 5 minutes in to the last 16 game calmly beating the keeper with leg overs and then slotting into an empty net. It was a beautiful way to beat Gerd Muller’s record of World Cup goals.
The next one is del Piero versus Germany in the semi final. Grosso had just scored after a long spell of German dominance. There was a minute left, Gilardino gets the ball in space and rolls it to del Piero who you’ll expect to head for the corner flag. Instead he cuts inside on the edge of the box and curls one into the top corner. The Germans collapsed at that moment. I can think of very few goals that have deflated a team so completely.
The last one is Inzaghi rounding Peter Cech because it was so funny how he crawled desperately trying to get the ball all to no avail.
Somto Mbah: Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi
If it’s true that Materazzi insulted his mother, then he had it coming. Yeah! Professionals are meant to be professional in their behaviour, and Zizou was all through his career (Editor’s note: That’s not particularly true. Zizou alongside Rigobert Song has been sent off the most times at the World Cup – twice)but insulting one’s mother crosses the line, and I would have absolutely loved it if he added a punch or two. He was retiring, after all.
Tomi Idowu: Definitely Iniesta smashing home the winner against Netherlands. Funny part was I had predicted Iniesta to score but I was losing hope and he just came clutch on the biggest stage. That moment was the ultimate victory for Spanish football. This refreshing take on the way football was played (After Barca lost to Inter in the Champions League) had proved itself worthy again.
Emeka Nwani: My favourite World Cup memory takes me way back. I was only 6 when Sunday Oliseh scored that wonder goal against Spain in 1998 and it is a memory that will live with me forever. My dad’s reaction was priceless and the fact we went on to win the game made it even more special.
Michael Famoroti: Italy vs Germany 2006 World Cup semifinal: The day I really fell in love with Andrea Pirlo. It is the 119th minute and Italy have a corner taken by Del Piero. The corner is dealt with and the ball drops to Andrea Pirlo on the edge of the box. The Italian players wait in expectation. It is Pirlo. Something must happen. Pirlo takes two strides forward and plays a no-look reverse pass with his magic wand that leaves three Germans flatfooted and finds Fabio Gross unmarked in the box. He sweeps the ball home first time with his left foot to give Italy the lead. Grosso would go on to score the winning penalty in the final against France to join Marco Materrazi and Toto Schillaci on the list of unlikely Italian world cup heroes. Yet he said recently in an interview that nothing beats that moment in the semifinal. I agree with him.
Demeyin Agbeyegbe: This is a tough one for me as I have many great World Cup memories. A few stick out in vivid memory. There was a Guus Hiddink led South Korea making it to the semi-finals in their home country in 2002 (Editor’s Note: DODGILY), Nigeria defeating Spain and topping its group in 1998. Senegal’s good run in the competition in 2002 also stands out but I think my all time world cup memory would be of the Ghanaian team that came very close to the semi finals in the 2010 world cup. No African team has ever been to that stage of the tournament and Ghana were literally a whisker away. There was a goal line scramble towards the end and the ball was heading into the net when Luis Suarez used his hands to save the goal in turn getting a red card and giving the Ghanaians’ a 90th min penalty. The went on to miss that penalty and leave the competition on penalties. My all time memory is that of the Black Stars who dared to dream.