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‘Knives were flying in the air’ – 12 World Cup stars’ tournament memories

first_img 11 Everyone has a vivid memory of their first World Cup and, as you can imagine, for footballers it tends to be even stronger.The superstars heading to Russia have dreamt about going to the finals for their entire lives.But what do they remember most from their childhood? FIFA.com asked a series of players to get find out. “I was 13 at the time [of France 1998] and I watched with my friends and family in Zadar. After every win, we just got happier and happier. At the same time, it was a great advert for Croatia – all the world finally knew about us. I remember I started dreaming about being able to reach that level one day. It was phenomenal.” 9. Heung-Min Son (South Korea and Tottenham Hotspur) 11 11 11 “My earliest World Cup memory? Freddy Rincon’s goal against Germany at Italy 1990. I must have been four years old. Everyone in Colombia celebrated it, so I have a fleeting memory of it. In fact, I think I recall more clearly all the subsequent times I saw that goal than the actual moment it was scored. The next World Cup wasn’t until 94, so we grew up seeing that goal over and over again.” “My first memory is the 1994 World Cup, which my father (Brazil’s Mazinho) won. I was only three and though I don’t remember the matches, I remember him coming home, the celebrations, and all the family being there. I remember it very clearly. I also remember the 2010 Final between Spain and the Netherlands, obviously, and Andres’s [Iniesta] goal. It’s the most important moment in the history of Spanish football. We were with the U-19s at the time. When Andres scored, there were fire extinguishers going off and oil and knives flying in the air. The TV ended up on the floor as well.” 11 12. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Iran and AZ Alkmaar) 4. Paul Pogba (France and Manchester United) “I have a lot of good memories of 2002. I remember after the penalty shoot-out against Spain in the quarter-final, everyone was going crazy. We couldn’t believe it. Everyone was wearing red shirts in 2002, including myself! I can’t choose one moment from that World Cup. Every moment in 2002 was fantastic.” 11. Radamel Falcao (Colombia and Monaco) “My first memory is from 1994. Although I was two years old, I think my first memory was watching on TV and the goal Romario scored against Holland. I remember that Bebeto crosses, and he takes it first time, and it’s a ‘golazo’.” 3. Neymar (Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain) “I remember watching the World Cup in USA in 1994. It was an overwhelming feeling. That was the first time that I understood what football was – every move, the entire game. My best memories are of watching the game against Cameroon, when Oleg Salenko scored five and Russia won 6-1.” 11 10. Igor Akinfeev (Russia and CSKA Moscow) 11 “I remember France’s 3-0 final win over Brazil in 1998. I was really young, just six or seven, and I was at home watching the match with all the others. As soon as France won, we all went outside and climbed over the cars. There were horns sounding and we were all happy.”5. Gabriel Jesus (Brazil and Manchester City)“For the past three World Cups I have painted the streets (of hometown favela, Jardim Peri) to celebrate the competition – it’s almost an obligation for the community. Hopefully I will get the chance to play at the World Cup in Russia to repay all the joy it has brought me.” “The first World Cup I can remember actively watching was 2006. I was probably too small in 2002 but in 2006 it was here in Germany, and me and my family watched every bit of it. That German team excited the whole country, so every one of their games was a real highlight.” “I remember 2002 and Ronaldinho putting that free-kick into the top corner (against England in the quarter-finals). It still hurts me to this day! That was my earliest memory of a World Cup and since then it has always been a dream to go on and play in one.” 6. Julian Draxler (Germany and Paris Saint-Germain) 11 1. Luka Modric (Croatia and Real Madrid) 11 Pintando a rua para a copa de 2014 ⚽️🙏🤙🏽 pic.twitter.com/U5tjOATgNY— Gabriel Jesus (@gabrieljesus33) May 30, 2017 7. Javier Hernandez (Mexico and West Ham United) 2. Thiago Alcantara (Spain and Bayern Munich) 8. Harry Kane (England and Tottenham Hotspur) 11 11 “The first World Cup I remember is 1998. My biggest idol was playing there, Ronaldo. Because of the schedule of the matches, sometimes I had to finish my classes in school early and rush home to watch them.” “I have a strong memory of watching the 2006 World Cup at home with my family. As we were watching a game, my father turned to me and said, ‘This is my biggest dream – to see you one day playing wearing that shirt at a World Cup’. I was just a kid at the time; neither of us could have imagined I would do just that only eight years later. But his dream definitely became my dream.”last_img read more