With World Cup fever beginning to take hold, we’re all looking forward to a feast of football; four weeks of exciting matches, spectacular goals and unforgettable incidents. To get you in the mood we’ve taken a look back at recent tournaments and picked out some fascinating facts, memorable moments and top travel tips to take you down football memory lane.
- Where & When: Italia 90 took place across Italy’s major cities including Rome, Milan, Florence, Naples and Turin. Played during a tumultuous time in Europe; this was the last tournament before German reunification and the USSR, Czechoslovakia & Yugoslavia all made their final World Cup appearances.
- Memorable Moments: David Platt’s goal against Belgium, Waddle and Pearce’s missed penalties, Benjamin Massing’s “tackle” on Claudio Cannigia, Gazza’s tears.
- Fascinating Fact: Salvatore “Toto” Schillachi was the tournament’s top scorer with 6 goals. A virtual unknown prior to the tournament, after the World Cup he only scored one more goal for Italy and soon faded into obscurity.
- How to Get There: Italy is one of the most popular European short break destinations boasting ancient culture, fine food and a sunny climate. A city break in Rome should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.
- Where & When: The United States was a controversial choice to host the ’94 finals as they did not have a professional soccer league at that time. However the tournament set attendance records that still stand to this day. Host cities included New York, Washington, Orlando, Chicago & Los Angeles.
- Memorable Moments: Roberto Baggio’s missed penalty in the final, Diana Ross’s missed penalty in the opening ceremony, Jack Charlton’s rage, Hagi’s wonder goal, no England!
- Fascinating Fact: Roger Mila of Cameroon became the oldest goal scorer in World Cup history at the ripe old age of 42 when he netted against Russia in the group stage. However Oleg Salenko scored 5 goals in the same game – also a World Cup record.
- How to Get There: The UK’s large airports all feature flights to the USA. Among the most popular destinations are New York, Florida & Las Vegas. Remember you’ll need a visa and it’s a long flight!
- Where & When: The tournament was held in ten cities across France including Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux and Lyon. The 80,000 seat Stade de France was built for the tournament and hosted the final.
- Memorable Moments: Ronaldo’s mysterious absence from the final, Michael Owen’s goal against Argentina, David Beckham’s red card against Argentina, Romania’s bleached blonde hairdos.
- Fascinating Fact: France 98 marked the last time Scotland played in a World Cup finals to date. They finished bottom of their group after losing against Brazil and Morocco.
- How to Get There: France is easily accessible from the UK with flights to Paris taking around 90 minutes and a quick connection from London to Paris with Eurostar.
- Where & When: The first World Cup to be held in Asia meant early kick-offs in the UK and pubs opening at breakfast time to show matches! Games were held in Seoul, Daegu, Osaka and Sapporo with the final taking place in Yokohama.
- Memorable Moments: Reigning champions France going out in the first round without scoring a goal, Beckham’s redemption as England beat Argentina in the group stage, Ronaldinho’s free-kick sailing over David Seaman’s head.
- Fascinating Fact: German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn won the Golden Ball award as the tournament’s best player; the only goalkeeper to do so in World Cup history.
- How to Get There: British Airways fly twice a day from Heathrow to Tokyo. It’s a journey of nearly 6,000 miles so flights take more than 11 hours.
- Where & When: One of football’s superpowers, Germany has some of the most impressive stadia in Europe. Matches were held in Berlin’s historic Olympiastadion, Munich’s brand new Allianz Arena and Dortmund’s legendary Westfalenstadion.
- Memorable Moments: Zidane’s head-butt and red card in the final, Joe Cole’s goal against Sweden, Italy’s two late goals to knock out the hosts in the quarter final.
- Fascinating Fact: The round of 16 game between Portugal and the Netherlands featured a record 4 red and 16 yellow cards. The match was nicknamed “The Battle of Nuremberg”.
- How to Get There: Most major UK airports feature flights to Germany with Berlin, Munich, Cologne & Hamburg being the most popular destinations. You can also connect to Cologne via Brussels with Eurostar and Thalys.
South Africa 2010
- Where & When: The first World Cup to be held in Africa was played in South Africa’s biggest cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria.
- Memorable Moments: Frank Lampard’s goal that never was, England’s 4-1 drubbing by Germany, the “Battle of Johannesburg“ final, Jong Tae-se’s tears.
- Fascinating Fact: Vuvuzelas divided opinion during the finals. Their incessant drone was notable during most games at the finals but concerns over hearing damage and noise pollution has led to them being banned at subsequent World Cups.
- How to Get There: South Africa’s tourist industry is mainly based around safaris with Kruger National Park featuring elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes and hippos. Direct flights from London take around 12 hours.
- Where & When: The 20th World Cup tournament was held in Brazil, for many the spiritual home of football. Seven new stadia were built including the Arena da Amazônia in Manaus in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. The final was held in the legendary Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.
- Memorable Moments: Brazil 1 Germany 7, Spain 1 Netherlands 5, goal-line technology & vanishing foam, England’s embarrassing group stage exit.
- Fascinating Fact: Brazil’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari called their humiliating loss on home soil against Germany the “the worst day of my life”. It’s only a game Phil!
- How to Get There: Brazil’s capital Rio de Janeiro is well known for its carnival, statue of Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana & Ipanema beaches. Flights to Rio take nearly 12 hours!
- Where & When: The first World Cup to be held in Eastern Europe, matches will be held in Moscow, St Petersburg, Volgograd & Yekaterinburg.
- Fascinating Fact: Iceland will be making their World Cup debut in Russia. The men from the land of fire and ice will hope to build on their impressive showing at Euro 2016 when they knocked out England.
- How to Get There: Moscow and St Petersburg are two of Russia’s most popular tourist destinations; British Airways fly direct to Moscow from Heathrow. Popular sites include Moscow’s Red Square and the Hermitage Museum & Winter Palace in St Petersburg. Winters in Russia are bitterly cold so if you’ve found a cheap flight in December, you’d better wrap up warm.