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Football: World Cup 2002: HITS AND MISSES: A Wales on Sunday look at some of the highs and lows of tournaments past.


GEOFF HURST HAD Jimmy Greaves not had his leg gashed by the French in England's final group round game, Hurst would probably not have had his chance to put his name in the record books. When it came he grasped it, scoring the quarter-final winner against Argentina and then, of course, his hat-trick in the final against West Germany. Has since been awarded a knighthood for his exploits.

ROGER MILLA CAMEROON plucked 38-year-old Milla out of semi-retirement on a tiny island in the Indian ocean and turned him into a superstar. Milla won over fans during Italia '90 by celebrating his goals with a shimmy around the corner flag. The oldest player to score in the finals, he took his country to the quarterfinals where they were beaten by England.

DIEGO MARADONA WHEN Maradona was bad he was very bad... but when he was good, he was of astandard which even the great Pel found difficult to surpass. The prodigiously talented Argentinian produced moments of such dazzling quality during Mexico '86 that they were enough to blind many. He skipped around the entire England defence to score one of the greatest goals in World Cup history in the quarter-finals, did likewise against Belgium in the semis and set up the winner against Germany in the final.

PEL... THE 1958 tournament in Sweden gave the world Pel. The quiet 17-year-old dazzled opponents with his speed and skill. His double in the 5-2 final win over the host nation confirmed what most people already knew - that they had witnessed somebody really special. To this day only Maradona has come close, but for off-the-field persona as well ason-the-field brilliance, Pel remains the undisputed king of the football world.


SANCHEZ has scored only one World Cup finals goal: the 1986 opener against Belgium. But his swaggering demeanour, not to mention goal celebration turned him into a national icon. Sanchez's casual front flip encapsulated the exotic feeling around Mexico '86, with its grandstand Mexican waves and its searing sun.

JOHAN CRUYFF IT is a travesty that somebody as prodigiously talented as Cruyff never had a World Cup winners' medal. His performances at the helm of the great Dutch team in 1974 deserved much richer reward. Cruyff pulled the strings and orchestrated his orange-shirted team-mates' romp to the final. There he scored in the first minute against West Germany, only for the Dutch to fall 2-1.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE TWO goals in the final on home soil in France '98 turned Zidane into the most sought-after footballer in the world. His tireless midfield prompting was occasionally reminiscent of Cruyff before him, and drove his team to heights of which even their most optimistic supporters could only have dreamed. Zidane scored two as his side dismantled Brazil in an extraordinarily one-sided final.

PICKLES GEOFF Hurst was the one who got knighted, but there was no greater English World Cup ace in 1966 than a dog called Pickles. The Football Association wanted to show off the Jules Rimet trophy as much as they could - only for it to be stolen at an exhibition.

England were faced with the acute embarrassment of having the best footballers in the world arriving in the country to challenge for nothing - until Pickles sniffed out the trophy, wrapped in newspapers, under a bush in South London.

VITTORIO POZZO POZZO was a strategic genius and was the first and only man to coach two World Cupwinning teams. His major triumph occurred in 1934, when he inspired his unassuming Italy side to victory on home soil. Four years on and with the Nazis advancing across Europe, Pozzo inspired a repeat performance in France. His captain, Meazza, received the trophy with a fascist salute. Pozzo received the gratitude of Mussolini.

TOTO SCHILLACI TOTO Schillaci solved Italy's crippling goalscoring problems in front of their unforgiving home fans in 1990, and almost carried his country to victory. Schillaci only entered the first group game against Austria as a 75th-minute replacement for Andrea Carnevale, but he scored the winner and kept a fine run going to the semi-finals, ultimately finishing with six of Italy's 10 goals. No one will forget his wide-eyed goal celebrations.


1950: ENGLAND 0 USA 1

ENGLAND had been one of the favourites to triumph in the tournament in Brazil, but they came unstuck against an American team built around journeymen from the British Leagues. Their right-half Eddie McIlvenny, for instance, emigrated to the US after being given a free transfer by Third Division Wrexham. England did everything but score, and the only goal came from Larry Gaetjens, a Haitian.


FOUR years on he would, of course, be instrumental in Brazil's famous 1970 World Cup triumph, but the 1966 finals were awful for the man recognised as the greatest.

Pel made a goalscoring start in Brazil's group win over Bulgaria, but injury ruled him out of their second match against Hungary. He returned, still only half-fit, for the game against Portugal - whose defenders spent the game kicking him with some wild tackling.Pel limped on, but he was barely able to walk, let alone run as Brazil crashed out of the tournament.


THE stage was set for Brazil to be crowned world champions in their own Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro as they prepared for their final group game against Uruguay, which would decide the winners of the competition. A victory song had been composed and Flavio Costa, the governor of the state of Rio, eulogised about the team who he already saluted as conquerors. It was tempting fate, and Brazil were beaten 2-1 by their South American rivals.


AS European Champions two years earlier, Holland should have challenged stronglyfor Italia '90, boasting the supremely talented Milan trio of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. But internal strife and a clash of egos between the star men and new coach Leo Beenhakker meant they stumbled through their qualifying group, finishing third with three draws. They faced eventual winners West Germany in the second round, but lost 2-1, Rijkaard getting sent off in his home San Siro stadium after spitting at Rudi Voller.


URUGUAY were a team with plenty of skill, exemplified by star man Enzo Francescoli, but they chose to kick opponents rather than the ball. Bossio was sent off in the 19th minute against Denmark, who then went on to win 6-1. A win was required for Uruguay to progress in their final group game against Scotland, but they were handicapped by another dismissal - this time Batista inside the first minute!


ONE of the finest players to have worn the famous yellow strip of Brazil - Zico - had been on the field for only two minutes of his side's absorbing quarter-final clash with France in Guadalajara when a penalty was awarded to the South Americans. With the scores locked at 1-1 and with just 17 minutes left, Zico stepped up - and missed. The game went to a penalty shoot-out which France won. ZIco never played for his country again.


ITALY returned home from the 1966 finals in England with their tails firmly between their legs. They were expected to breeze past the unknowns of North Korea. However, a goal in the 42nd minute from Park Doo-ik proved decisive. Italy coach Edmondo Fabbriwas sacked and the team returned home to be pelted by tomatoes.


THE exact sequence of events that led up to a clearly unfit Ronaldo being selected to lead the line for Brazil in the 1998 final against France remains unclear, but the result of the decision was very costly. Edmundo was pencilled in to start instead of Ronaldo and was listed on the original team sheets. But a dramatic U-turn meant the bucktoothed striker started, but looked a shadow of his normal self.

France took advantage of Ronaldo's plight and strolled to a 3-0 victory.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 26, 2002
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