Memories of the Football World Cup

What happens when you are alone at home, sitting wide awake at 1 o clock in the night, all alone, watching Argentina and Mexico battling it out in the Round of 16?

Memories start rushing though the mind, recollecting how love was developed for the sport of Football.

A game which unites the World. A game where a match brings a country to a standstill. A game where a victory can lift the spirits of the entire nation. A game  where a loss can send a nation into mourning. A game where a glorious goal can launch a career. A game where an own goal can end a life.

It has been slightly more than a quarter of a century of my humble existence on this tiny planet. I have been six World Cup's old, celebrating the seventh. And by God's grace, I have been able to been a part of the excitement for six World Cup's.

Circa 1986 - I was just too young to even understand that a game called Football existed. However, I might have been the super star at home - being at expert at kicking stuff.

Fast forward to 1990 - Just old enough to understand television. It was the time of Doordarshan, the national television broadcaster, and it's two flagship channels. 

This Cup was characterized by waking up at half past 11 in the night, after a couple of hours of sleep, just to watch the maestro - Diego Maradona. 

Argentina had won the Cup in 1986 and Maradona was the star. Sadly they  lost in 1990. Years later I learned that West Germany had won the Cup under the leadership of Jurgen Klinsmann.

Four years later, in 1994, the Cup had traveled to America for the first time. Pundits discussed whether the game would knock out American Football.

Football ceased to be a fun game when Andres Escobar of Colombia was assassinated for scoring an own goal in the match against USA, just 10 days after the match.

Romario, from Brazil, was the star. The world, and myself, watched in shock as Roberto Baggio, of Italy, put his penalty kick over the bar in the finals. Brazil had defeated Italy in the finals to lift the World Cup.

Four years down the line, in 1998, the Cup was back on European soil - with France playing the hosts. 

Dunga, from Brazil, bought an exceptionally strong squad to the World Cup. It included Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Denilson, Bebeto et all. But Zinedine Zidane, from France, proved to be the super star as the hosts lifted the Cup for the first time.

Asia was the next stop for the World Cup. The dawn of the 21st century heralded with the World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002.

South Korea had a dream run - they reached the semi finals until they were knocked out by Germany. Michael Ballack scored for the Germans, taking them to the finals. Destiny gave him a cruel blow as he was yellow carded in the final minutes - thereby denying him a chance to play in the Finals.

The final was played between Brazil and Germany. Ronaldo was at his best scoring two goals, helping Brazil lift the Cup.

This Cup also heralded the arrival of the German goal scoring machine - Mirosalav Klose.

Just four years back, in 2006, Germany hosted the Cup.

Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger were the rising stars. Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldo were stars on the horizon of their shining career. Del Piero wanted to make his mark on the Cup. And Klose continued with his goal scoring spree.

Shakira set the hearts on fire with her magical words - "Oh baby when you talk like that... You make a woman go mad."

That was before Italy took on France in the World Cup Finals in Berlin.

Italy had a super squad with an a amazing strike force -  Del Piero, Inzaghi, and Totti.

Zidane wanted to make his swan song a glorious one. He was on the way with an early goal. Italy equalized some 10 minutes later. 

The match was into extra time when Zidane lost his cool and head butted Marco Materazzi. He was sent off immediately. It was the nadir of his glorious career.

It was spot kick time and France badly missed Zidane. The Italians scored all five and lifted the Cup for the fourth time.

Today, the Cup has travelled to Africa for the first time. South Africa are the playing the perfect hosts. Shakira is still the hot favorite with her Waka Waka.

It is the year of the Messi's, the Kaka's, the Klose's, and the Schweinsteiger's. The super stars of the yesteryears - Dunga and Maradona - are on the sidelines coaching their national teams.

The biggies Argentina, Brazil, Germany and the Netherlands - are set for a battle royale. The experienced World Cup rookies - Spain - hope to be lucky this time.  

All in all, the next two weeks promise to bring a lot of excitement.

Nothing summarises it better than Shakira herself in her song Waka Waka.

You're a good soldier
Choosing your battles
Pick yourself up
And dust yourself off
And back in the saddle

You're on the frontline

Everyone's watching
You know it's serious
We're getting closer
This isnt over

The pressure is on

You feel it
But you've got it all
Believe it

When you fall get up

Oh oh...
And if you fall get up
Oh oh..

Tsamina mina
Cuz this is Africa

Tsamina mina eh eh
Waka Waka eh eh
Memories of the Football World Cup Memories of the Football World Cup Reviewed by Vyankatesh on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 Rating: 5

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