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Guy Woodward remembers Maradona, Gazza and 1990 in his World Cup memories

Published:  03 July, 2014

Two days without World Cup football on TV? Well here is our latest World Cup Memory to keep you going whilst we wait for the quater-finals to kick off tomorrow afternoon. Step forward Aston Villa fan and former editor of Decanter, Guy Woodward, for his trip down World Cup memory lane. Guy has also agreed to sign for Harpers as one of our regular columnists here on and in the magazine, so look out for his latest column on the site tomorrow.

If you would like to share your World Cup memories with the trade simply fill in the following questions and email

Favourite orld Cup and why? A toss-up between 1982 and 1990. I was only nine in '82, so my memories may be clouded by childlike innocence, rushing home from school to watch games, but I remember it being hot and steamy in Spain and Brazil playing like matadors. 1990 had the England factor, and some great moments, not least Gazza's contribution. Plus I was able to watch the games in the pub. 

Best overall World Cup game and why? France v Germany 1982 semi-final, which had it all - goals, controversy, violence, penalties... There were four goals in extra-time. And the wrong team winning, which as a nine-year-old, sticks with you. 


Maradona's wonder goalMaradona's wonder goal

Greatest World Cup goal? Has to be Maradona in '86 against England. Unfortuantely...

Favourite all time player in the World Cup and why? Zidane was just sublime to watch. And I loved that he managed not only to unite France, but, as the son of an Algerian immigrant, ram the taunts of the far right brigade back down their throats - they were totally alienated from the country's celebrations when France won on home soil in '98. 

Paul Gascoigne's famous tears after England's painful loss to Germany in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup.The Guardian

Earliest World Cup memory? I actually had an Argentina '78 football in my back garden, as a five-year-old, but I don't remember anything of the tournament. 


Gazza's tearsGazza’s tearsSource: The GuardianPaul Gascoigne’s famous tears after England’s painful loss to Germany in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup.

Best all time English World Cup player? In my lifetime, Gazza, without a doubt. Not on achievements, maybe, but he had the fearless attitude you need at that level. I remember in the quarter-final, against Cameroon, when we went 2-1 down, and the semi-final, against Germany, when we fell behind, he was the one who always wanted the ball - he never hid away. But best of all-time - I guess you'd have to give it to a winner, so Bobby Moore. 

Worst all time English World Cup player? It's instructive when you look back at World Cups and see some of the average players that made the squads. It's a good way of dispassionately assessing our real rank. Even this year - just look at our back four. Then look at the team from 1990 - there wasn't one weak link. And so attacking - a midfield of Platt, Gascoigne and Waddle, with Beardsley and Lineker up front. By comparison - and to answer the question - David Batty didn't cover himself in glory in 1998, did he?

Ideal wine or spirit/cocktail to drink whilst watching World Cup Final? Margarita. World Cups should be hot and exotic. And I loved watching Mexico in this tournament - terrific spirit. 

Any personal funny World Cup related story you would like to share? I ran a book on the 1990 World Cup when in sixth form at school. God knows why - I wasn't good at maths, and so it proved...