The Most Epic Moments In World Cup History

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Vote up the stories that capture the drama and spectacle of the global soccer tournament.

Baseball has the World Series, football has the Super Bowl, and soccer (or football everywhere except the US) has the World Cup. Every four years, nations from all over the world send their teams to the biggest tournament the sport has to offer. Over the years, the monthlong tournament has featured classic FIFA World Cup moments that are exciting, tense, and at times, devastating. 

The 21 men's and eight women's tournaments have provided plenty of iconic moments in World Cup history. Here, we've compiled some of the most famous World Cup moments ever, including the time a legendary forward had to play goalkeeper, one of the biggest upsets in the history of the game, career-defining performances, and more. Vote up the most epic moments.

  • 1
    239 VOTES

    1958: Pelé Leads Brazil To Their First World Cup Title

    1958: Pelé Leads Brazil To Their First World Cup Title
    Photo: El Gráfico / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    At 17 years old, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé - widely regarded as one of the best to ever play the game - was essentially a nobody at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. He didn’t even appear in the tournament until Brazil’s third game, but from that point on, he proved indispensable to the team’s World Cup hopes. He scored the lone winning goal in Brazil’s 1-0 quarterfinal win against Wales, scored a hat trick in their semifinal against France, and scored two goals in Brazil’s final win over host nation Sweden. That is six goals in just four games at the 1958 World Cup.

    To say he was a key factor in securing Brazil's first World Cup title (at 17 years old, remember) would be an understatement.

  • 2
    170 VOTES

    1986: Diego Maradona Scores The 'Goal Of The Century'

    1986: Diego Maradona Scores The 'Goal Of The Century'
    Video: YouTube

    Four minutes after Diego Maradona’s controversial “Hand of God” goal (where he seemingly used his hand to put the ball in the net), he scored another goal for Argentina that went down in soccer history as the “Goal of the Century.” Maradona received the ball from a teammate while still in his own half of the field. He then went on a solo run toward England’s goal, deftly avoiding challenges from four defenders before dribbling around the keeper and slotting the ball into the net.

    It was the exactly this kind of goal that cemented his soccer legacy.

  • 3
    119 VOTES

    2014: Germany Thrashes Brazil 7-1

    2014: Germany Thrashes Brazil 7-1
    Video: YouTube

    After five previous victories, Brazil were heavy favorites to win the 2014 Men’s World Cup - in their home country, no less. But their hopes of a sixth title at home were dashed in one of the most jaw-dropping games in the history of the tournament. Brazil faced Germany in the semifinal round, and though both teams were ranked highly, the scoreline of this match said otherwise.

    Within 30 minutes, Germany was up by 5 goals to 0 - a deficit not often seen between two top world teams. Germany’s dominant performance continued, and by the end of the game, they had put seven goals past Brazil. Though Brazil scored a goal in the 90th (and final) minute of the game, it was nothing more than a consolation. 

  • 4
    85 VOTES

    1966: England Wins The World Cup In Front Of 93,000 Home Fans

    Winning a World Cup is a feat in itself, but doing it in your home country as tournament hosts makes the victory even sweeter. However, achieving this sweep is rare; it’s been done only six times in the history of the tournament. In 1966, in front of 93,000 fans at the legendary Wembley Stadium (where Queen’s Live Aid performance was), England won the World Cup for the first - and so far only - time. 

    The game was a back-and-forth affair between England and West Germany, with the score tied at the final whistle. England went on to score two goals in extra time to win the game 4-2. After the game, Queen Elizabeth II herself presented England’s captain with the World Cup trophy.