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A weird and wonderful A-Z of the World Cup

A is for ARCHIE GEMMILL, who dribbled past 27 Dutchmen en route to scoring for Scotland in 1978. The goal is so famous it made it into film (Trainspotting) and song ("I love sex and drugs and sausage rolls, But nothing compares to Archie Gemmill's goal").

B is for BRADY, LIAM, who now returns to RTé's World Cup team. Shame he never got to play in one. B is also for BEST MISSES of all time (Pelé's chip from his own half, and audacious dummy around the 'keeper, both in 1970). Finally, B is for BLATHER, SEPP -- and that's not a spelling mistake.

C is for CHILES, ADRIAN. Freshly poached from the Beeb's MOTD2, and the only vaguely plausible reason why you might tune into ITV's World Cup coverage.

D is for DR CULLEN PARK -- Dublin v Wexford in the 2002 Leinster championship, the Saturday evening after Ireland's World Cup 'dawn chorus' against Cameroon. The only recorded occasion in sporting history where the actual venue failed a breathalyser test and where you had more streakers than players.

E is for ENGLISH PENALTY COCK-UP. Self-explanatory. Only one question -- why on earth would you allow David Batty (1998 v Argentina) take a spot-kick?

F is for FISHY RESULTS. Namely Argentina 6 Peru 0 in '78, when the Argies needed to win by four to reach the final at Brazil's expense, and Peru's second-half collapse prompted all manner of unproven conspiracy theories. Then, four years later, we had Germany 1 Austria 0 -- the match is known as Nichtangriffspakt von Gijón ("Non-aggression pact of Gijón"), whereby a 1-0 or 2-0 result ensured both these neighbouring 'rivals' advanced at the expense of poor old Algeria.

G is for GERRY ARMSTRONG -- the Norn Iron legend who put the ball in the Spanish net in 1982. G is also for GAZZA'S DAFTEST MOMENT -- no, it wasn't that ridiculous tackle on Gary Charles, or crying for England, or going to China, but becoming a World Cup pundit for ITV in 2002.

H is for HEADBUTT, the one where Zinedine Zidane chooses a novel way to, ahem, bow out of the World Cup. And also HAND OF GOD -- yes, the one and only. And finally HAND OF GAUL -- oh, don't even go there.

I is for IMPISH Mexican netminder Jorge Campos (5'8") with his outlandish IMAGE, courtesy of the most garish jersey collection (all designed by himself) in World Cup history.

J is for JACK. Remember him? And also JENNINGS, PAT, who eventually got the chance to make his World Cup finals debut in 1982, aged 77. Or thereabouts.

K is for KIM MYONG-WON, who won't be finishing as top scorer in South Africa after FIFA ruled that the North Korean striker can only play in his nominated position of goalkeeper. Rumour has it he's about to switch codes and join Monaghan.

L is for LAURENT BLANC, soon-to-be French manager, who missed the 1998 World Cup final through a suspension stemming from the Oscar-winning skills of Croatian thespian Slaven Bilic.

M is for MILLA, ROGER, who was even older than Jennings when he lit up Italia '90 with his four goals and corner-flag dance routines.

M is also for MESSI who now has the chance to infuriate his self-infatuated manager, MARADONA, by staking his claim as the greatest (Argentinian) footballer of all time.

N is for NORTH KOREA -- not to be mistaken for the capitalist-loving South which hosted thousands of craic-loving Paddies in 2002. The alleged 'axis of evil' version famously beat Italy in 1966 and will make its second finals appearance in South Africa.

O is for OSSIE'S DREAM, which has nothing to do with winning the World Cup or inspiring 'Tottingham' to FA Cup glory, but everything to do with finally getting to sit next to Eamon Dunphy in a Dublin TV studio.

P is for PLATINI, who was not a great player (according to Eamon) and is rated around these parts as an even worse blazer. P is also for PELé -- even the Dunph concedes that he was a great player, at least up there with Gilesy and Liamo and Ronnie.

Q is for QUEIROZ, CARLOS -- Portugal manager, having previously worked as Alex Ferguson's interpreter.

R is for ROY KEANE, who should be disqualified from all World Cup A-to-Zs for his "failure to prepare" a more diplomatic speech to his manager on a certain Pacific island in 2002.

S is for SMUG AND SMUGGER -- aka Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker. S is also for SAIPAN (see above) which had just got over World War Two when, 57 years later, it became unwittingly embroiled in another global conflagration.

T is for THEY THINK IT'S ALL OVER -- the iconic line of commentary from BBC's Kenneth Wolstenholme at the end (almost) of the 1966 World Cup final. T is also for THREE WISE MEN -- Billo, Gilesy and Eamo. Whoever said we tune in because of the football?

U is for URUGUAY. Inaugural champions in 1930. And shock winners again in 1950 -- the only World Cup where there was no actual final. Instead, Uruguay stunned their Brazilian hosts 2-1 in the decisive group game at the the new Maracana, watched by a world record crowd -- officially 199,854, but reputedly closer to 210,000.

V is for VOLLER, RUDI, who was sent off for having the temerity to be spat at by Frank Rijkaard at Italia '90.

W is for WOOR-DILD CUP, that all-too-rare event when the Boys in Green have the chance to prove they are, in fact, the "best fans in the woor-dild". W is also for WAGS, who should be banned forthwith. As well as WORST PENALTY MISS EVER -- not Baggio, or even Chris Waddle, but Diana Ross at the USA '94 opening ceremony.

X is for X-RATED. Check out YouTube for the Battle of Santiago (Chile v Italy in 1962). Then, if your stomach can still take it, Harald Schumacher's GBH tackle on Patrick Battiston in 1982 which resulted in ... a goal-kick!

Y is for YET ANOTHER English penalty cock-up. Some time in the next month.

Z is for ZICO -- the most famous member of the most famous team (Brazil '82) not to win the World Cup. And Z is for ZIZOU, who stands head(butts) and shoulders above all artists to grace the World Cup stage since Maradona in '86 -- and maybe until now, Messi.


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