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The World Cup's Greatest Moments 

... and their connection to Swindon.
 
Swindon World Cup Brazil 2014
The greatest football competition in the world is just days away.
 
Roy Hodgson and his team of young England hopefuls will soon be touching down in Brazil as they prepare to take on the might of Italy, Uruguay and errr... Costa Rica in the Group stages.
 
So as the countdown begins to the razzle and dazzle of Rio, we thought we'd take a look back at the some of the greatest moments in World Cup history - and how in some way we can find a connection to Swindon, no matter how tenuous, or far distant.
 
The goals, the saves, the glory and - ultimately - the disappointments (you knew there'd be a few). Here they are!
 
1. The Greatest Save Of All Time
Gordon Banks
Brazil 1970
 
For England fans, this is still one of those moments that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Arguably the greatest goalkeeper of all time denying the greatest player of all time in Mexico 1970.
 
Pele even shouted 'Golo' as he soared and sent what he thought was an unstoppable downward header towards Gordon Bank's goal, as world champions England took on Brazil in the mid-day heat of Guadalajara.
 
But who was the left back playing for England that day - and who Brazilian bomber Jairhzeno 'left standing' to provide the cross for Pele?
 
Terry Cooper, of course, father of present Swindon manager Mark Cooper and someone who's been helping out his son with coaching at the County Ground this season.
 
Trying to stop arguably the best winger of all time in 100+ temperatures - with Pele and Carlos Alberto also coming at you - we reckon sounds like one of the toughest footballing jobs of all time.
 
So the odd piece of advice for Town's current back-four on how to hold off the raging torrent of attack that is Crewe Alexandra should be useful.
 
Looking back at the baking hot conditions they had to play in, it's still incredible to think that England only lost 1-0 that day in what eventual World Cup winner Pele described as their 'toughest game of the tournament'.
 
 
 
2. The Greatest Individual Goal Of All Time
Diego Maradona
Mexico 1986
 
Another unforgettable memory agonisingly etched on the minds of all loyal followers of the Three Lions.
 
A goal though, in fairness, that's very hard not to argue as the best individual goal of all time.
 
It's just the bit four minutes earlier when the cheating Diego used the 'hand of God' to punch the ball past Peter Shilton to give Argentina a 1-0 lead in the World Cup Quarter-Final in 1986 that really sticks in the throat.
 
But when Maradona picked up the ball again and promptly made England's midfield and defence look like a pub team, even the most die-hard fan can't deny it was footballing skill at its most genius.
 
It also made former Swindon defender Terry Fenwick - Number 14 & England's last line of defence - look like a right Charlie.
 
For it was he who had the chance (as did Peter Reid, in fairness, and Terry Butcher - twice!) - in the days when cynical fouling hardly ever produced a red card - to bring down Maradona just as he loomed on Shilts once again.
 
But with a booking hanging over him for an earlier Maradona challenge (see video) Fenwick failed to even get a boot in - just a flaying arm as the Argentinian captain flashed past.
 
The rest is history as they say and, despite the appearance of John Barnes, and another Lineker goal, England's World Cup hopes were dashed once again.
 
 
3. The Goal That Never Was
Sol Campbell
France 1998
 
Ahhh, the Argies. Yes, them - again. England's old enemies and - Falklands aside - a country we've just never got on with, especially on a football pitch.
 
And in the second round of the World Cup in France in 1998, our big chance to get revenge for that bitter '86 defeat came around almost inevitably.
 
This time we were being led into battle by manager and former Swindon Town super hero Glenn Hoddle.
 
The man who had taken Town to the promised land of the Premiership in 1993. Wembley wins. Birmingham comebacks. And within three years of leaving the County Ground had landed the top job in English football.
 
He then asked John Gorman his trusted side-kick (and former manager at STFC) to join him with his assault on World Cup glory.
 
If ever the people of Swindon had a reason to cheer on England in the summer of '98, this was it.
 
And what a game it was. It had everything.
 
A wonder goal from a young Michael Owen. A David Beckham sending off. And, crucially, one of the most controversial moments of any World Cup - the disallowed 'winning goal' in the last ten minutes from the head of Sol Campbell.
 
Quite what for, no one knows, but for all the England supporters & Hoddle devotees who lept off their chairs and spilt their pints that night in jubilant celebration, the disappointment is still all too raw.
 
It meant ten-man England had to survive extra-time and, finally, the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
 
And we all know how that ended.
 
 
4. Archie Gemmill's Wonder Goal
Scotland
Argentina 1978
 
Another moment in history few us of a certain age can ever forget - even if you have no love those north of the border.
 
These were the days don't forget when England didn't even qualify for the World Cup. Both in '74 and '78 the whole nation had to rely on the Scots to put on a decent show, as hard as that is to believe.
 
But with the likes of Kenny Daglish, Graeme Souness and the future Swindon Town legend Lou Macari in the team, the whole of Scotland and the Tartan Army actually believed they were going to win it!
 
And for five unbelievable minutes of their Group Stage game against eventual finalists Holland, the dream was well and truly on.
 
Needing the impossible of a winning by three clear goals against the 'Total Football' Dutch that included Kroll, Resenbrink & Rep, wee Scot Archie Gemmill scored one of the greatest ever World Cup goals to make it 3-1 in the second-half.
 
Holland eventually brought it back to 3-2 and Scotland went out in glory on goal difference. Arguably their last true hurrah at a World Cup Finals.
 
Lou Macari never played in the match after an argument over win bonuses. But let's not ponder on the words 'money', 'controversy' and 'football' where Lou is concerned, shall we, eh?
 
 
5. A World Cup Winner
Ossie Ardiles
Argentina 1978
 
Our last and probably Swindon's least tenuous connection to the World Cup. A winner at last!
 
Town manager Ossie Ardiles lit up the World Cup in 1978 when he, Ricardo Villa and goalscoring playboy Mario Kempes helped lift the Jules Rimes Trophy for Argentina on home soil.
 
Their football at times was mesmerising and Ardiles and Villa soon found themselves part of a shock transfer from South America to north London and to 'Tott-ingham' Hotspur to play in the English First Division.
 
There Ardiles won more plaudits and FA Cups and after settling so well in the UK decided to take up management at Swindon when his playing career came to an end.
 
The diminutive Argentine followed Lou Macari (see Connection 4) as Town boss in 1989 and soon had Swindon playing 'Samba' style football that brought promotion to the then Division One in 1990 via a play-off win over Sunderland.
 
Or so everyone thought.
 
Irregular bonus payments to players that started under Macari's era led to a League investigation and Swindon being denied their rightful place in the top flight as punishment.
 
It was a high point (and 'low') that Ardiles and Swindon couldn't recover from and the World Cup winner many fondly remember eventually moved on to manage Newcastle in 1991.
 
 
World Cup 1966?
 
Unfortunately, we couldn't find a Swindon connection to the greatest moment in World Cup history, of course - England winning at Wembley in 1966 - except for Don Rogers being on Alf Ramsay's Christmas Card list for a few years (true!)
 
So unless Massimo Luongo makes the final squad with Australia this year in Brazil and scores a wonder goal (here's hoping!) we fear this might be it on Swindon's Very Tenuous World Cup connections for a decade or two.
 
Have a great World Cup!
 
FULL GUIDE COMING SOON!
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