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Four of the most bizarre moments in World Cup history

The Boot Room relives some of the most bizarre World Cup moments.

Martyn Cooke



World Cup
Photo: Getty Images

With the 2018 World Cup in Russia currently in full flow football supporter’s across the globe are tuning into what has been an incredibly entertaining tournament so far.

However, whilst the World Cup may be seen as being the pinnacle of the ‘beautiful game’ by many it also has the potential to bring out the worst in the players on the pitch.

From head-butts and devastating capitulations to strikes and walk-outs – the most prominent international tournament in the world is not always characterised by unity and fair play.

Zidane headbutts

The 2006 World Cup in Germany will be forever remembered for one controversial, and somewhat bizarre, incident that occurred in the closing stages of the final between France and Italy.

Zinedine Zidane, one of the most decorated players of the modern era, was playing the final game of his career after announcing his retirement prior to the start of the tournament.

The Frenchman had captained his side to the final following a array of glittering performances throughout the tournament and it seemed written in the stars that he would end his career by lifting the World Cup.

(Photo by John Macdougall/Getty Images)

However, with the final tied at 1-1 in extra time and heading for penalties, Zidane inexplicably head-butted Italian defender Marco Materazzi.

The ball had been on the opposite side of the pitch at the time and replays showed the pair exchanging words before the French captain descended into a moment of madness.

Zidane was sent off, Italy won the contest via the penalty shoot-out and the last contribution that the legendary Frenchman made on a football pitch as a player was receiving a red card.

Brazil 1, Germany 7

In the summer of 2014 Brazil had been overcome by what can only be described as football fever.

The nation had come to an almost standstill during the hosting of the World Cup and had successfully created one of the most colourful and vibrant tournaments in living memory.

The Brazilian team, backed by a fervent home crowd and containing the enigmatic Neymar, were expected to go all the way in the competition and had reached the knock-out stages without much incident.

However, they were drawn against Germany in the semi-finals and suffered one of the most astonishing collapses in World Cup history.

(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

The hosts went into the game as favourites but were ruthlessly torn apart by a German side that were at their peak and would ultimately win the tournament outright.

Joachim Low’s side scored 5 goals in 18 first-half minutes and continued to build an unassailable 7-goal lead prior to Oscar’s late consolation in injury time.

It was complete chaos among the Brazilian ranks. There were tears in the crowd whilst the team produced one of the most shambolic defensive displays ever witnessed at an international competition.

A World Cup that most Brazilian’s thought they were destined to win ended in embarrassment and one of the heaviest defeat’s in the nation’s history.

France go on strike

A World Cup very rarely proceeds without some form of fallout or controversy, but in 2010 the French national team took things to the next level in an extraordinary ‘strike’.

Raymond Domenech’s side were already in chaos after a defeat against Mexico left the team unlikely to qualify from their group and facing an early exit from the tournament with the French media highly critical of the manager and players.

During the game Nicolas Anelka had a very public verbal dispute with Domenech on the touchline and it was later announced that the striker would be sent home from the tournament after refusing to apologise.

The following day, the French squad were due to participate in an open training session.

However, after the team had arrived and signed autographs in the crowd, onlookers were astonished to witness the players simply walk back to their bus before the session had started.

(Photo by Patrick Hertzog/GettyImages)

Captain Patrice Evra was caught on camera in a heated argument with trainer Robert Duverne. The pair had to be separated, before a statement was read on behalf of the players in which it was claimed they had boycotted training due to the decision of to send Anelka home.

The situation was only resolved when French Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot was flown in to mediate and, although they completed their final group game, defeat against South Africa resulted in their exit.

The so-called ‘strike’ had long lasting repercussions for French football.

The entire French team was suspended for their next international game against Norway by the French Football Federation whilst Domenech was dismissed.

Anelka was banned for 18 games whilst Patrice Evra, Frank Ribery and Jeremy Toulalan were all handed suspended after being identified as being key instigators in the boycott.

Roy Keane walks out on Ireland

By the turn of the twenty-first century Roy Keane was one of the most dominating central midfielders in Europe.

The Irishman had helped Manchester United to achieve a sustained period of success at club level and was famed for his no-nonsense attitude and sheer desire to win.

Keane had also become a key figure at international level and had emerged as the prominent personality in the Republic of Ireland dressing room.

He captained the side to qualification for the 2002 World Cup, producing a string of impressive displays along the way, but had a somewhat rocky relationship with Football Association of Ireland (FAI) officials.

The island of Saipan was selected by the FAI as an initial base for the international team ahead of the World Cup but their preparations for the tournament were thrown into chaos following a, what is now infamous, behind the scenes bust-up between Keane and the manager Mick McCarthy.

Ultimately, Keane was unhappy with the facilities and general preparation in Saipan and, after initially deciding to go home before changing his mind, he gave an interview to The Irish Times and The Sunday Independent in which he aired his concerns.

McCarthy confronted Keane about the subsequent article in a team meeting which evolved into a full-blown argument between the pair in full view of the rest of the players and backroom staff.

Niall Quinn later described Keane’s ‘10-minute oration’ towards his manager as ‘clinical, fierce [and] earth-shattering to the person on the other end’.

The Republic of Ireland captain was sent home the following day and the team were left to compete in the tournament without their inspirational leader on the pitch.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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Picking six of the best from the 2018 World Cup

France were crowned champions of the world yesterday after beating Croatia 4-2 in Moscow

Liam Thomas



Photo: Getty Images

The 2018 World Cup came to an end yesterday and, after a terrific tournament filled with highs and lows, Didier Deschamps’ French side came out on top in a 4-2 classic in Moscow against Croatia.

We have been treated to a feast of footballing genius over the past five weeks and picking just six players was a difficult task when considering some of the top performers on display.

Nevertheless, after trials and tribulations, we managed to pick six of the best from this summer’s World Cup and how they would line up in a six-a-side team.

Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford came of age for England between the sticks over the last few weeks of the competition and saved the Three Lions on countless occasions.

It was truly a pleasure to watch Pickford at times, and the young goalkeeper was a breath of fresh air. He was arguably England’s best player of the tournament and he gets the gloves for this team.

Jordan Pickford

Defender – Raphaël Varane

At 25 the French defender has now won four Champions League titles and a World Cup; astonishing stuff. Varane was vital for France throughout the tournament and will no doubt be in every pundit’s and fan’s team of the competition because of this.

If there were any questions surrounding Varane’s ability they were quashed during this World Cup, and the young Frenchman deserves every accolade that comes his way; a magnificent tournament capped off with a World Cup winner’s medal to match.

Defender – Domagoj Vida

You would have been let off for not knowing who Domagoj Vida was before the World Cup. However, the Croatian centre-back announced his name on the world stage with some outstanding performances.

Vida’s grit and determination throughout the competition was admirable, and his Croatian side certainly did themselves and their country proud.

Midfield – Luka Modric

Voted player of the tournament, Luka Modric again proved why he is arguably the best midfielder on the planet. At times, when Croatia looked down and out, Modric took the team by the scruff of the neck and pulled them through.

An incredible talent, it is a shame Modric didn’t get over the final hurdle and bring his nation there first ever World Cup.

(Photo by Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Forward – Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard again proved why he is the apparent heir to the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi throne, with some sublime performances for Belgium.

We got to see the very best of Hazard in a silky smooth Belgium set-up that utilised their attacking talents to the fullest.

In the end, Hazard’s side had to settle for third place but there is no doubt he will be back in 2020 for revenge.

Forward – Kylian M’bappe

A World Cup winner at the age of 19, Kylian M’bappe is living out every boy’s dream and became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele.

M’bappe was the first name on the team sheet, and his electrifying pace caused problems for the world’s best defenders throughout the tournament.

It is scary to think what might come from the teenager in the future; France will in no doubt be reaping the rewards of this once in a generation talent for years to come.

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Three Arsenal youngsters who could help England bring football home in 2022

The Gunners’ academy continues to develop some of the very best youngsters.



Photo: Getty Images

After a successful tournament got the nation dreaming, England fell at the penultimate at the World Cup and may require Arsenal‘s help in 2022.

Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad exceeded pre-tournament expectations and suddenly Greg Dyke’s objectives for the 2022 World Cup seem within grasp – and the Three Lions now have four years to build towards glory in Qatar.

Come November 2022, when FIFA has confirmed the World Cup will commence, Southgate is likely to call upon a number of the players who starred for the Three Lions in Russia but changes to his squad are also inevitable.

“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”

– FA Chairman Greg Dyke reveals his ambitious plan in 2013.

Fortunately, English football is breaming with exciting young talent at the moment and Arsenal may hold the key to success with three of their most highly-rated prospects.

Eddie Nketiah

Bursting onto the scene in November 2017, Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit at the Emirates Stadium after netting twice against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Since then, the 19-year-old forward has gone on to make three Premier League appearances.

Competition for places at Arsenal is fierce, particularly following the captures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the past 12 months, which means he may have to be patient to get his chance – but the situation is entirely different on the international stage.

In four England U21 appearances, Nketiah has scored two goals, per TransferMarkt stats, following on from eight goals in eight games at U18 level and four goals in two games for the U17 side. In just over a year, Nketiah rose to Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 ranks from the U17’s and shows no signs of stopping his rise.

(Photo by Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Becoming a regular for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed his versatility by catching the eye playing as a full-back. His natural position is in midfield though and this is where he could be of value to England.

It is fair to say that England’s options in the middle of the park sitting in front of the defence are extremely limited, with neither Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier doing enough to cement their spot in the position for the long-term.

Maitland-Niles could become the man England are looking for in the coming years and further first-team experience with Arsenal looks set to follow under Unai Emery, as the 20-year-old penned a new long-term deal with the Gunners last month.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson

Arsenal fans have been excited about 18-year-old Reiss Nelson for a while now and saw the teenager break into the fringes of the first-team last term, as Whoscored data shows he finished the campaign with 15 appearances across all competitions.

Eight of those opportunities came as a starter, including two in the Premier League, and there is every chance Nelson could earn further action under the guidance of Unai Emery next term – especially as Alex Iwobi has not done enough to warrant continued action.

Should the Nigeria international continue to suffer with poor form, the eight-cap England U19 international could be Arsenal’s breakthrough star of the year – following in the footsteps of players like Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin.

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Who will bring football home? England’s predicted World Cup 2022 squad

Players from Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Bristol City feature.

Mathew Nash



England were desperately close to making it into the World Cup final, after defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals.

The Three Lions did however bring back some pride and promise from the long-suffering England fans.

With England also the World Under-17 and Under-20 Champions, the future is brighter than ever.

So who will be at the World Cup in 2022?

It seems impossible to guess four years in advance. Not many would have suggested the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire or Jesse Lingard four years ago.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The squad, hopefully, will not change much and the experienced players in the squad will likely still be around.

However, for the sake of the article and debate, anyone who will be over 30 in 2022 has been ignored. That leaves Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in the cold, even if some of them will likely be present.

Eric Dier also got nudged out, as his form recently has been a concern and Nick Pope has been replaced.

So who makes the XI and the overall squad of 23?


Jordan Pickford

The Everton stopper cemented his place as England’s new number one during the quarter-final triumph over Sweden. Highly-rated by club and country and with excellent distribution it will be no surprise if he remains England’s first-choice in 2022.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Jack Butland

What a deputy. The Stoke City goalkeeper could easily be our number one. The Potters relegation will hopefully not set him back and he should push Pickford for years to come.

Angus Gunn

The son of a Scotland international has so far rejected their international calls. Recently joined Southampton for £13.5 million and will hope to cement his place as a Premier League regular.

Honourable mentions: Nick Pope, Freddie Woodman, Dean Henderson.


John Stones

Despite one lapse of concentration which cost England crucially against Croatia the Manchester City man was excellent in Russia.

If he maintains a starting place at City and his career is not derailed, then Stones will be one of the leaders in Qatar.

Harry Maguire

Became a national hero this summer. A swashbuckling defender with an eye for a goal and a great meme. Should be a multi-cap England international.

Joe Gomez

Replacing Kyle Walker as the pace-man in a back three is Liverpool’s Gomez. If he can combat his recent injury troubles he will be a certain future England player. Remember how he shackled Neymar back in November.

Jamaal Lascelles

For many people, the Newcastle captain should have been in Russia ahead of Phil Jones or Gary Cahill.

Rightly so. A brilliant leader who would slot into a back three perfectly and deserves to be in the England fold for the next four years.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Dael Fry

The Middlesbrough defender is one inclusion that may cause derision. But this lad is extremely talented.

A reliable defender, good with the ball at his feet and a favourite at St George’s Park. Fry will hope to emerge as an England hopeful in the years to come.

Honourable mentions: Eric Dier, Alfie Mawson, Michael Keane, Ben Wilmot.


Trent Alexander-Arnold

Already in the England picture and shone v Belgium. Will likely play in the ¾ play-off this weekend. In four years he might be playing in the final.

Jonjoe Kenny

A tough call this but the Everton defender is like the Kieran Trippier to Alexander-Arnold’s Walker-like characteristics.

Whilst the Liverpool man has the pace and the power Kenny is more deliberate and his crossing is fantastic.

A favourite with the England youth management and the eventual successor to Seamus Coleman at Goodison Park.

Honourable mentions: Kyle Walker-Peters, Dujon Sterling, Steven Sessegnon.

Ryan Sessegnon

A shoe-in for 2022 if he remains fit and healthy. The Fulham star is perhaps England’s most exciting prospect.

He might even be considered an attacker by 2022 but for now, he would be an excellent left wing-back and will hopefully make his England bow this season.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Joe Bryan

This might be the biggest swing and potential miss in the squad. The Bristol City star is wanted by a host of clubs this summer after his fantastic form at Ashton Gate.

But he is a hard-working and super-fit young man who, given the right opportunities, is easily capable of playing for his nation.

Honourable mentions: Lewis Gibson, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell


Lewis Cook

Absolutely adored by the England camp the Bournemouth man has already made his England debut. More positive in his passing than Jordan Henderson and more dynamic than Eric Dier, he is surely the future of England’s composed holding role.

Harry Winks

Set for a big break at Tottenham this season he has the potential to be an England star. If he can overcome his current injury trouble he would seem like being a shoe-in for 2022.

Phil Foden

England lacked a midfielder who could pick the locks of the Croatia defence in the semi-finals. This is the young man to do just that. The Manchester City youngster needs to break into the first-team fold but given what he has already achieved that should not be a problem.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

A lot depends on his next move, as Chelsea does not seem to be the right place for RLC to develop.

Showed in all his England performances that he is a talent to keep an eye on for the future and England will surely nurture him.

Dele Alli

May not have set the world alight in Russia, but the Tottenham star’s talent cannot be overlooked.

If he can get to the level he is capable of, then Alli is a 100-cap man with ease.

Jesse Lingard

Can he continue to prove people wrong for another four years?

Excellent at the World Cup and been in fine form for Manchester United. If he continues to progress in this way, then he should still be in the England set-up four years from now.

James Maddison

A tough choice considering the wealth of attacking midfield talent but the Leicester newbie seems the most likely to reach the levels necessary to play at a World Cup.

The £24 million talent can play a number of positions and is a special talent the Premier League will enjoy watching next term.

Honourable mentions: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish, Kieran Dowell,


Raheem Sterling

He divided opinion among some at this summer’s World Cup. But under the guidance of Pep Guardiola he will continue to improve.

Whether out wide or through the middle, England will surely stick by the attacker.

(Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Harry Kane

The nation’s current captain and front-runner for the Golden Boot award at this summer’s tournament it is hard to see how he won’t lead the line again in four years time.

If he keeps going at his current rate, Kane will surely take Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record for England.

Ademola Lookman

Some felt the Everton attacker was unlucky not to go this summer. After thriving on loan at RB Leipzig it seemed he might make a late lunge.

This summer is big for Lookman. He needs to decide where is best to carry on his career which could be key to a future England career.

Marcus Rashford

The Manchester United talent can surely only get better. If he can become a regular starter, wherever he happens to play his club football then the teenager will hope to secure a place in Qatar.

Honourable mentions: Dominic Solanke, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Eddie Nketiah.

Who did we miss? Can England bring football home in 2022?

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