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15 Iconic Moments In Football History

© by Getty images

You may assume that football is simply an all-out battle to win trophies and receive recognition. Yet the fact of the matter is that football is a fascinating sport that is often overlooked. 

Yes, you can often accurately predict the outcome of a game by looking at sports betting lines, but the game is much more than that.

There are many small moments throughout the history of football that encapsulate the beauty and the general ups and downs of the sport. Really, no other sport can quite make its fans feel such a variety of emotions in such a small amount of time.

Here is a list of 15 iconic moments in football history.

1. Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ Goal

Diego Maradona was one of the top Argentine footballers in the 80s. He had many memorable performances on the pitch but it was his legendary hand-ball goal during the 1986 World Cup Final in a game against England that stands out.

2. England Wins The 1966 World Cup

The 1966 FIFA World Cup Final was played at Wembley Stadium, in London, to determine the winner of that year’s world cup. England won 4-2 after extra time, beating West Germany to win their only ever title.

3. Brazil’s 2002 World Cup Win

Brazil had many wins under their belt at this point in their career. This win saw Brazil’s most successful player of all time, Pele, hug the most successful player of the 2000s, Ronaldo, after a 2-0 victory over Germany during the World Cup Final.

4. Messi’s First Barcelona Goal

Lionel Messi is up there with the world’s greatest football players. In May 2005, the then 18-year-old Argentinian footballer scored his first unforgettable goal for the team which won them the game.

5. Zidane Headbutts Materazzi

In his last World Cup appearance (2006), Zizou Zidane had a true shot at taking France to the very end. His quest came to an abrupt end as he headbutted Italian player Marco Materazzi. France couldn’t recover from this and Italy went on to win the cup. 

6. Ferguson Hugs Ronaldo At 2016 EuroCup

Cristiano Ronaldo was discovered by Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager, a long time ago and the two had a close relationship. So when the two met as Portugal won the 2016 World Cup, Ronaldo went out of his way to hug Ferguson.

7. Robin Van Persie Becomes “The Flying Dutchman”

Robin Van Persie scored a wondergoal against Spain during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He flew mid-air to net a ball which was such a magnificent feat that it dubbed him the nickname ‘the Flying Dutchman.’

8. Ronaldinho Invited Into Barcelona Team Photo

In a display of camaraderie, the Barcelona players invited Ronaldinho to pose with them in a pre-match photo before facing off with his new team, Real Madrid. 

9. Battle Of Old Trafford

It was September 2003 when Arsenal and Manchester United met at Old Trafford. This went on to become one of the most intense games in the entire history of the Premier League. Ruud van Nistelrooy managed to miss the last kick of the game – also a penalty – and Arsenal’s Martin Keown was captured celebrating.

10. Beckham Is Sent Off

During the 1998 World Cup, David Beckham was sent off the field after unnecessarily kicking Argentina’s Diego Simeone. He earned himself a red card for his actions and was quickly dubbed the villain of this World Cup.

11. The Embrace Of The Soul

One of the most iconic moments in football history was captured in a single powerful image. It features an armless Argentinian fan heading to celebrate with two players as they celebrate a 1978 World Cup win over the Netherlands. It was named “embrace of the soul” due to the fan’s inability to hug the players.

12. Roberto Carlos’ ‘Banana’ Kick

Robert Carlos’ powerful free kick saw him manage to curve the shot at a seemingly impossible angle. It perplexed fans both in attendance of the game and all around the world. It’s officially become one of football’s most iconic moments.

13. Baggio’s Finale Penalty Miss

Robert Baggio is one of the greatest players to have ever played, without winning the World Cup. In 1994, when he was close to lifting the cup, he dashed his hopes by completely missing the ultimate penalty shot.

14. Pele’s Last World Cup

It seems slightly poetic that Pele began his World Cup journey with his initial goal and ended it the same way (with two goals instead of one). The world couldn’t have expected much else from one of the most talented players of all time.

15. Gordon Banks’ ‘Save Of The Century’ From Pele

In the 1970 Mexico World Cup, England played the eventual winners Brazil in an interesting match that saw goalkeeper Gordon Banks manage to make an unbelievable save against Pele.


Football isn’t just a physical sport and can be quite emotional at times. As a result, it has yielded some of the greatest moments for both fans and players in sporting history — many of which have thankfully been captured on camera for the world to see.