Memories of the 2010 World Cup

The 1994 World Cup in America had Diana Ross busting the net in half despite her penalty trickling wide, France ’98 had the mysterious fit of Ronaldo before the final and 2006 saw Zinedine Zidane head-butt Marco Materazzi after the Italian offered him a few choice words.

When it comes to the World Cup, memories rarely gobble up all the facts and over time specific details relating to players, teams and fixtures become cloudy, but for whatever reason, some remain with you in full Technicolor.

They don’t necessarily relate to the final or even the semi-finals, as memories have no time for the importance of a match, but often do for a charm that helps build a picture of World Cup personal to you.

Afternoons spent avoiding work and treating yourself to back-to-back to matches reveal a pleasuredome of football that hasn’t been experienced for four years.

It might not necessarily be the best game in the world as anyone who saw Japan’s encounter with Paraguay will testify, but there will be those special moments from the tournament which connect you with it and draw you closer to the competition.

These events could be on or off the pitch, funny or touching or just plain fantastic, but they help paint the picture of those four weeks and so here are my abiding memoires of South Africa.

Vuvuzelas
Unlike any tournament before it the 2010 World Cup had a distinctive soundtrack to accompany every game, but unfortunately it was torture. With the benefit of time we will be able to look back and laugh about the horrific noise that made the experience of watching a game uneasy and gave you the feeling that a swam of angry bees had taken up residency inside your ear drum. How time is a healer.

Diego Mardona
The return of any legendary player as a manager is an exciting prospect, if only to see if they’ve still got the right stuff that made them a legend in the first place, but the promise of the volatile Maradona returning was just a little bit more special. He arranged his team with an attacking fluidity that was exciting to watch, he left a squad-full of world class players at home and unbelievably took Newcastle’s Jonás Gutiérrez and after Argentina qualified for the tournament he politely told critical journalists to “suck it and keep on sucking it”. There aren’t many like him and thankfully he continued to entertain during the World Cup.

Slow motion replays
Never before have I felt so close to the action as I did during this world cup. The replays showed pain and anguish etched across faces as the horror of a tackle was slowly revealed and helped to connect the audience to the incident, as if they had front row seats. Beads of sweat flicking of Carles Puyol’s forest of hair, the realization on Asamoah Gyan’s face after his decisive quarter-final penalty miss and Wayne Rooney gesticulating to the linesman after Frank Lampard’s goal that never was are beautifully painted memories that will live long.

England
It was a different story this time around. Usually there’s penalty shoot-out heartache to contend with or at the very least a plucky and spirited display that deserved more than the defeat that was handed out. Instead they never performed and were deservedly dumped out by a far superior German team who handed England their heaviest World Cup defeat. Nothing was deserved and the shame of forgetting to turn up to a tournament will be difficult to erase. After a chorus of boos accompanied England from the pitch after their goalless draw with Algeria, Wayne Rooney winged “nice to see your home fans boo you, that’s loyal supporters” which I’m sure would have been met with a similarly sarcastic response from most fans relating to his decision to let his crap identical brother play in all of England’s games. A difficult tournament from which lessons surely need to be learned.

Goal-line technology
The debate regarding goal-line technology reached new heights in South Africa after Frank Lampard was denied a goal that was further behind the enemy’s line than a Russian spy and Argentina were gifted a goal that was scored from a wildly offside position against Mexico. Even FIFA big-wig Sepp Blatter admitted “it is obvious that after the experiences at this World Cup it would be nonsense not to reopen the file on goal-line technology” after previously refusing to even contemplate such a move, but whether any action will be taken or not is a matter of even greater debate.

Ghana v Uruguay
It didn’t promise much on paper, as it featured two teams punching above their weight in the quarter-final of the World Cup and it should have been a nervous and tentative affair. Instead it was the most fantastical game of the tournament that had one of the most exciting ends to a game I have ever witnessed. Ghana pegged back Uruguay in the dying moments of the match and Luis Suarez denied Ghana a last minute winner with a blatant handball and was dismissed, but Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty that would have guaranteed an African team in the semi-final for the first time. It goes to penalties and none other than Gyan steps up to take the first and he blasts it expertly into the roof of the net, but it’s not enough as Sebastien Abreu’s cheeky chip seals the win for Uruguay and Suarez is hailed as a hero by his team-mates. High drama from the pages of a comic book and a new found love for Ghana emerges, fantastic.

Lynne Truss
She of Eats Shoots and Leaves fame became an unlikely pundit on the events of the World Cup and what a refreshing change she proved to be. Clearly informed on the subject and not just jumping on the bandwagon that rolls through town for a month every four years, her monologues were funny and informative and knocked the socks off Andy Townsend’s usual blah blah cliche blah blah punditry.

Spanish commentators
Clive Tyldsely and Jim Beglin could learn a lot from these guys as thankfully neither of them mentioned that fateful night in Istanbul/Barcelona whenever a team finds themselves behind in a match and they displayed a level of unparalleled passion which has never been seen or heard in England. Another reason to wish you were Spanish.

Germany
The old enemy proved why they hold that dubious title by once again dumping England out of a World Cup, but this time it was different, as there is no malice in my feelings towards them, in fact quite the opposite. I’m unexpectedly a huge fan. Gone is the boring efficiency and has been replaced by an intoxicating and thrilling desire to score goals, which they did in abundance. Players like Mezut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Samir Khedira revealed themselves as truly world-class players in an enviably young and talented squad. To add to this they also scored a fantastic fourth goal against Argentina which was quite possibly my favourite of the tournament, during my favourite display of attacking football and was delivered by new favourite team.

There are many more moments of significance that will remain hermetically sealed in my memory, but there really are too many to analyze and my lunch is looming and my tummy is making me very aware of this, so here is a brief list of the ones that got away.

The failures of 2006 World Cup finalists France and Italy who only managed three points between them from a possible 18, Ghana’s vivid rhubarb and custard away shirt, Chris Waddle’s rant about the state of English football on radio Five live and the beautiful Larissa Riquelme’s practical solution to having no pockets and not wishing to hold on to your mobile phone all game.

Tags: Final, World Cup 2010

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steve 13 July 2010 at 2:30pm

the vuvuzela was okay and it was the only thing that had uniqueness…complaining about it is silly..

Dan Mobbs 13 July 2010 at 5:17pm

It certainly separated this World Cup from all that have gone before it and gave it a unique quality, but the constant droning gave me a headache, although it did at least occasionally drown out the blah blahs of Peter Drury and Jim Beglin.

Mikey 3 May 2011 at 9:41pm

I thought the slow motion stuff was a load of old tosh. Who needs to see all that over and over and over again. I don’t care, show me the action as it happens.

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