Those who know nothing about the sport can witness significant moments in football history. Whether it was Michael Jordan’s “flu game” or The Miracle on Ice, these incidents and match-ups are indelibly etched into history. Far beyond their immediate significance, these moments have impacted sports more broadly as they continue to shape how people view what a game ought to be. Here are the most significant moments in soccer history:
Diego Maradona’s “Hand of ‘God’ Goal
The goal most easily recognized as one of the biggest in football history would be Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal match. The high ball cleared a slew of English players and headed for an English defender, who Maradona beat with his hand. The referee didn’t see it, but everyone else did.
Italian Star Roberto Baggio’s Finale Penalty Miss
If a player misses a penalty kick in the World Cup Final, his legacy is likely to be defined. That was certainly the case with Roberto Baggio, who missed the decisive penalty in the 1994 World Cup final. Despite playing against Brazil’s Paulinho, Baggio’s shot skewed horribly to the right, denying Italy their first and only World Cup title.
Paolo Di Canio Pushes The Referee
Sportsmanship is a cornerstone of the game, which is undoubtedly the case for Paolo Di Canio. The 1990 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina featured several incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct, but none more notable than Di Canio shoving the referee in frustration after being rejected by Diego Maradona.
Zidane Headbutts Marco Materazzi
If there’s one play that has defined the rivalry between rivals France and Italy, it’s Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup match. The incident was almost anticlimactic, considering that Zidane had already scored to give France a 5-3 lead over Italy at halftime. In addition to being an indisputable moment in World Cup history, it marked the first time an opposing player headbutted an Italian player.
Robin Van Persie Becomes The Flying Dutchman
Robin Van Persie’s flying header against Spain was the Netherlands’ sole highlight during the 2010 World Cup, which they lost to Spain. It remains one of the most famous goals in World Cup history, as Van Persie scored off a corner. The goal also became famous for using “The Flying Dutchman,” an animated superhero popular in both Netherlands and Belgium at the time.