Every World Cup is a special event but, like your children, there’s always one that you secretly love a little bit more than the others. Which is why we present the definitive ranking of the five best World Cup Finals tournaments ever.
There may be some England bias, for which we make no apology. Sit back and reminisce.
Best team: Led by the real Ronaldo, who won the golden boot with 8 goals, Brazil were the winners, striding through a tournament where many other fancied teams fell, comprehensively beating Germany 2-0 in the final.
Biggest shock: Where to start? The 2002 World Cup was great precisely because it was so unpredictable, starting with the very first match, when holders France lost 1-0 to Senegal; they would go out after finishing bottom of the group and not scoring a single goal. Hugely questionable refereeing saw South Korea stun Italy in the second round, before overcoming Spain to secure an astonishing semi-final place. Meanwhile the United States shocked Portugal in the first round to send them home, before being edged out by eventual finalists Germany in the second round. As if that wasn’t enough, Turkey took advantage of an unexpectedly favourable draw to reach the semi-finals for the first time.
Best team: Well, of course, that would be England, as Alf Ramsay’s wingless wonders started slowly, with a 0-0 draw against Uruguay, before winning every subsequent game, conceding just one goal prior to the final, where an epic 4-2 win in extra-time saw the first and only World Cup Final hat-trick, from Geoff Hurst.
Biggest shock:North Korea stunned Italy with a 1-0 win at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park and qualified for the next round above them – the first time that a side from outside Europe or the Americas had made it out of the first round.
Best team:Argentina were worthy winners, inspired by the genius/devil (delete as applicable England fans) that was Diego Armando Maradona. They exhibited flair and style the whole way through the tournament, culminating in a pulsating 3-2 win against West Germany in the final.
Biggest shock:Morocco were the surprise package of the finals, topping a group containing England, Poland and Portugal before narrowly losing out to the West Germans in the second round.
Best team: Old faithful West Germany may have won it, beating a dour Argentinian side who had struggled to the final via two penalty-shoot out wins, but the stars of the show were the indomitable lions of Cameroon, led by the 40-year-old-but-probably-older Roger Milla. They attacked with flair and gave England a massive fright in the quarter-finals; more than that, they brought African football well and truly onto the world stage.
Biggest shock: The very first game of the tournament saw Cameroon shock the world champions Argentina with a thoroughly deserved 1-0 win, which featured one of the greatest tackles of all time.
Best team: Won by the team of the tournament, and one of the finest teams to ever play the game, the Brazil side was packed full of legends and pure flair: Carlos Alberto, Pelé, Gérson, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Tostão were all present and correct: they won every single qualifying game and all six games at the finals.
Biggest shock: With 22 minutes of their quarter-final left, an England team improved from the ’66 version were crusing 2-0 against their former final opponents West Germany. Bobby Charlton and Martin Peters were substituted to save them for the semis – and West Germany roared back to win 3-2 and stun Alf Ramsay’s lions.