Taking place every four years, there’s no doubt that millions of football fans around the globe look forward to the thrills and excitement of the World Cup, even if their own nation isn’t actually participating. Along with an opportunity to watch the biggest stars in action, there’s also the chance of upsets as less fancied teams surprise much stronger opponents. Add the vibrant colour and noise at the stadiums, you’ve got all the right ingredients for special memories on and off the pitch.
So far, the 2018 World Cup in Russia has been no different when it comes to making its mark, both in our hearts and minds, with some spectacular moments and stories to savour for years to come, not least for those directly involved.
Panama have scored!
Thanks to the clinical 6-1 demolition of Panama in their second Group G match, William Hill have England at 8/13 favourites to top the group, but no matter how impressive the display was from Gareth Southgate’s side, it was the single response from their rival that brought two great moments of genuine World Cup magic.
In the stands, Panama fans joyously reacted their first ever World Cup goal, almost as if their team were lifting the famous golden trophy itself. Neither the score or the result mattered in the slightest, because Panamanian supporters were in Russia to celebrate the achievement of their country in having reached the tournament.
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) June 24, 2018
Meanwhile, and for those eagerly watching the game back home in Panama, TV commentators were just as delirious as the fans in the stands in Nizhny Novgorod. In tears and voice breaking with emotion, one cried: “My country has scored! GOAAAAAAALLL for Panama! The first ever for my country!”
— Revista etcétera (@revistaetcetera) June 26, 2018
Living the dream
If there’s one World Cup story that’s captured the imagination since it emerged, it’s that of Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, with an epic life story of struggle that wouldn’t be out of place as the theme for a Hollywood movie. After ambitions of becoming a professional footballer were rejected by his parents, the 12-year-old Beiranvand left a nomadic life behind to pursue his dreams and headed to Tehran.
As a youngster in the Iranian capital, the promising goalkeeper never once gave up his dream, taking any job he could find and even sleeping rough outside football grounds where he played. Fast-forward to the 2018 World Cup and imagine saving a penalty from arguably the best player in the world, then imagine the emotions that Beiranvand must have felt, following his remarkable journey to get to that moment. It’s the stuff of dreams and one he’ll certainly never forget.
Possibly the most emotional story of the #WorldCup: #IRN‘s goalkeeper #Beiranvand left his nomad family as a kid, lived on the streets of #Tehran, washed cars for a living, followed his dream to become a goalie, and tonight saved a penalty against the world‘s best football player pic.twitter.com/DACzBEuayo
— Adnan Tabatabai (@A_Tabatabai) June 25, 2018
Helping hand to fight racism
Skin colour really shouldn’t matter when it comes to the beautiful game, but one image from the Senegal versus Poland match was itself a colourful reminder that racism has absolutely no place in football.
— Mohamed Nor Amalow (@Amalow11) June 20, 2018
A simple sporting gesture between two players in the middle of a fiercely contested game of football, the photo soon went viral on social networks, thanks to the deeper significance it implied. A genuinely beautiful image from the beautiful game.