In the summer of 2002, I saw the proper integration of my generation into football. A certain team said to be the “best team ever”, literally destroyed everyone they encountered in the tournament called the world cup. As expected they beat Germany in that final but there was something about the team, the aura they carried, the confidence they exuded, team spirit they exhibited and their down to earth character despite their abilities. Honestly I wasn’t following Nigeria’s football then.
The 9th of June 2006, at about 10:30 pm a certain man named Zinedine Zidane who was arguably the best player in the world then was given a red card, then the game changed direction completely, and Italy won the world cup. Most vivid memory was Gattuso running around in underwear and the birth of “Paneka”. And the unbelievable scenes of seeing so many stoned looking grown men cry
The summer of 2010 was a bit special, because it was happening in our own soil and there was this false hope that Nigeria was going to deliver and as expected they didn’t. One highlight was the amazing goal by Tsabalala. Another was the birth of Tiki taka by the Spanish Golden Generation. It was a good world cup but the general consensus was that spark wasn’t there and hopefully it will return in the next one.
Come June 2014, there was excitement for football fans around the world as the boredom resulting from the break in football came to an end. As usual there was hope for our national team but this time it was different, what made it special was the fact that we could feel that we were building something and we had an amazing AFCON so anything less than a knock-out stage finish would have been labelled a disaster. Expectations were high for Spanish national team because of their previous success at the previous world cup, European championship and the vast amount of quality players they had at their disposal .Brazil were also contenders because they were the host of the tournament , had the highest morale even months before it started , there was a sense of belonging which they had like in 2002. Argentina were also in the picture simply because they had the best player ever to grace a football pitch.
As usual, we got to discover new or rather unpopular talents and ones who decided to show case themselves exceptionally. A good example is James Rodriguez who is already a Madrid player. Blind, Depay. Cuardado, azeez , schrulle, Joel Campbell also showcased themselves . Like-wise the likes of Hazard , Ronaldo , Rooney failed to deliver and it was a shame we didn’t get to see them perform.
First major turning point was the crashing out of the almighty Spain , England and Italy followed closely behind them; very disappointing from three of them as they were all expected to go far into it and as usual the English press found a way to blame Rooney for most of the abysmal performances . It was their lackadaisical attitude towards matches and picking players based on past reputation rather than present form and hunger. IT SHOWED CLEARLY THAT SOMETIMES ABILITY IS NOT ENOUGH; DETERMINATION, GRIT, ENDURANCE AND SCALING MENTAL BARRIERS IS ALL PART OF IT, WHICH MAKES THE VICTORY SWEETER
It became a tournament of the underdogs. For the likes of costa-rica and Chile, it was a dream. They did well enough and clearly deserved what they got. Even Holland who had an average squad went far enough, credit to van Gaal who clearly was the mastermind but I am happy he didn’t win the competition if not we would not have heard it end of it from man-utd fans.
At the latter stage of the tournament, destruction came upon Brazil, it was due to various factors like the immense pressure they put on themselves, inability to adapt to various stages of the game, simply lacking the quality their opponents had and lastly the performance of sideshow Bob David Luiz (happy we sold him for 50 million prior to that match, if not PSG could have changed their mind). That to me was the best 20 minutes of football I have ever seen in myself and I am glad I was alive to see it.
There wasn’t too much hype as the highlight was already the semi final. But the favourites were Germany, they had been there and been heartbroken a few times in the last twelve years, so the possibility of them falling apart at the final stage was very likely . So the fans hoped for the best and expected the worst. And everyone expected Messi to turn up, but after 90minutes the match was still a stale mate. klose who has been the ‘highest goal scorer at world cup’ credited to him had a bad game and Gotze replaced him and then about 118th minute, a certain schrulle (Chelsea product by the way) crossed into the box and boom that was how the world cup was won by schrulle, credit to Germany for altering their philosophy and changing their grass root football
The world cup had way more highlights but even some important things had to be omitted because its supposed to be summary although I would have loved to say more but then if it gets too long it gets boring.
The world cup marked the end of the Tiki-taka era and the beginning or re-emergence of the total football era and that once dominated Europe which we hope to see more in the coming seasons and hopefully have another amazing world cup in June 2018.0