I guess you all notice that world cup is going on right now, and along with all of the brilliance on the pitch it is likely to bring, the biggest tournament in football has also provided some of the funniest moments in the history of the beautiful game.
Jimmy Greaves, dog catcher Somewhere on Jimmy Greaves’ CV, near the ‘World Cup winner’ section, is the line ‘qualified dog catcher’. The legendary former England striker provided a moment of comic relief during his nation’s 1962 World Cup quarter-final match with Brazil, when he took to his hands and knees in a successful effort to detain a stray dog that had wandered onto the pitch. The story goes that Garrincha was so amused by the incident he kept the animal as a pet.
Rivaldo, bad actor There are few trophies either collective or individual that former Barcelona, Brazil and Milan man Rivaldo hasn’t won, but his career will always be blighted by an ugly piece of play-acting from his country’s 2002 World Cup semi-final clash with Turkey. Successful in his quest to get Turkish defender Hakan Unsal sent off, the Brazilian forward was later fined for the incident.
Diana Ross, penalty misser The 1994 World Cup opening ceremony. Diana Ross, a huge target to hit, and one of the worst misses ever. It never gets old.
Jeff Agoos scores a brilliant volley… into his own net Jeff Agoos waited 14 years to represent the USA at a World Cup, and after scoring one of the most spectacularly bad own goals in the history of the competition, he may wish he hadn't bothered. The big defender volleyed the ball into his own net to put away the final goal in the USA’s Group D clash with Portugal at the 2002 World Cup. Fortunately for him, his nation held on to their one goal lead, and the own goal ultimately didn’t cost any more than a large measure of pride.
Graham Poll books Josip Simunic three times Knowing the basic rules of the game happens to be essential if you want to officiate at a World Cup, yet Graham Poll quite visibly struggled in that regard during Croatia’s 2-2 draw with Australia in group F of the 2006 tournament. The English referee booked Josip Simunic not once, not twice, but three times before sending him off in the encounter. Simunic couldn't believe his luck.
Alan Hansen v Willie Miller Various factors have conspired to ensure Scotland never progressed further than the group stage at a World Cup, but no incident is more infamous than a clash of heads at the 1982 edition of the tournament. The Scots needed to defeat the USSR to progress in second place from Group 6, and one more goal could have been enough in order for them to do so, with the score-line level at 1-1 late in the game. Then, in the 84th minute, Willie Miller and Alan Hansen had the bright idea of running into each other, allowing Ramaz Shengelia to put the USSR ahead. Graeme Souness would equalise for Scotland a few minutes later, but the defensive calamity from his team mates ensured the Scots crashed out in third place.
Rob Green v Clint Dempsey There’s nothing funnier than a goalkeeping error, though perhaps not for England supporters in this case. To say Rob Green could have done better with this effort from Clint Dempsey during the 2010 World Cup Group C game between the USA and England is an understatement. The error would ultimately cost England first spot in the group, ensuring they were drawn with Germany in the round of 16.
How to defend a free-kick, Zaire style Defending free-kicks would be much easier if kicking it away before an opponent takes it was a permitted method, and that’s exactly what Zaire defender Mwepu Ilunga done during his nation’s Group 2 game with Brazil in 1974. Unsurprisingly, the referee went on to book him and allowed Brazil to re-take the dead-ball. Ilunga has subsequently explained that he was more than aware of the rules and was actually trying to force a red card in a protest against Zaire’s profiteering authorities. In any case, the incident still makes for funny viewing.
John Aldridge loses it Former Liverpool, Real Sociedad and Tranmere striker John Aldridge’s international career is perhaps best remembered for one moment of madness at the 1994 World Cup. When officials took their time in letting the Republic of Ireland international come on as a substitute against Mexico in a Group E game, Aldridge launched into an expletive-laden tirade that was captured on camera for the world to see. When he was finally let on, he went on to score Ireland’s only goal of the 2-1 defeat.
Ally’s Tartan Army Scotland’s 1978 World Cup team featured a fair amount of quality players, with names ranging from Kenny Dalglish to Joe Jordan and Graeme Souness, but even then, in hindsight it was a touch foolish to sing about winning the competition before a ball was kicked. Yet that’s exactly what comedian Andy Cameron done in his single “Ally’s Tartan Army”, released in the build-up to the event. In inimitable fashion, Scotland went on to under-perform, being beaten 3-1 by Peru then drawing 1-1 against Iran. A 3-2 victory over eventual finalists the Netherlands in the final game of Group 4 salvaged some pride, but it was too little, too late.
Bonus video: Iker Casillas looks like a fish This mesmerising yet unfortunate use of slow motion was captured during Spain’s 1-0 victory over Portugal in the 2010 World Cup Round of 16. Bizarre.