We are now just weeks away from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. And at Payzone, we couldn’t be more excited to go to beer gardens and enjoy watching England play - until their inevitable early exit on penalties.
But since the World Cup has been in existence since 1930, there have been some great stories that have captured the hearts of millions of people around the world. We have compiled some of these great moments of unbridled emotion, that have made this tournament so compelling to watch.
Who knows, maybe if you’re a business owner you could take inspiration from some of these great stories from football’s biggest tournament.
For those who are too young, we are talking about the original Brazilian Ronaldo and not his more chiseled/handsome namesake. Ronaldo went into the 1998 World Cup as the world’s best player and the undisputed star of the Brazilian national team. But the day that Brazil were due to play hosts France in the final something happened to him. Ronaldo fell ill that day and was clearly in no state to play - but pressure from the public meant he had little choice. During the game, he was anonymous and France won the final comfortably.
The next few years saw Ronaldo struggle with serious injuries. This meant that when the next World Cup came along in 2002, his status had diminished. But like a phoenix from the flames, he came to the fore and ended the tournament as a World Cup winner - scoring the most goals along the way, including 2 in the final against Germany - a true fairytale story.
Lesson - life is about struggles and if you can tackle adversity head on you can be like Ronaldo and come back better than ever.
Current champions Germany are one of the favourites for this year's tournament and play an exciting brand of attacking football. But it wasn’t always like this. For years, Germany had been associated with being conservative and a little bit boring. This changed at the turn of the millenium when their Football Association revamped their youth teams - encouraging more creative football throughout the various age levels. The result: an incredible pool of players not afraid to be bold.
On their way to winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Germany beat the hosts by a whopping 7-1 in the semi final - before eventually triumphing over Argentina in the final. Germany could very well repeat the feat in a few months time.
Lesson - sometimes it’s good to play ‘the long game’ both in business and in life. Create goals and stick to them. Everything you do should be geared towards this goal. That might mean doing smaller tasks along the way - but if it contributes towards the bigger picture you are doing the right thing.
Quite possibly, the greatest footballer of all time is Argentina’s Diego Maradona, and during the 1986 World Cup, he was at the peak of his powers. In what was a fairly functional Argentina team, Maradona stood out as the creative “maestro”. He inspired the team to win their second World Cup scoring fantastic goals along the way - as well as his infamous “hand of god” against England in the quarter final (his second was a bit special though). Maradona was an astonishing talent able to take ordinary teams to heights that they wouldn’t have thought possible.
Lesson - a team of any kind should always be about more than an individual. However, no one can deny that outstandingly talented people can be the difference maker in any kind of organisation. So if you have someone with incredible talent - nurture it. Because that person might be the difference between an organisation standing still or moving forward.
Back to France 1998, the French team came into the tournament looking like strong contenders, but there was a great deal happening in the wider political sphere in the build up to that year's World Cup. President Jean Marie Le Pen was an incredibly controversial figure who argued that the makeup of the national team was not French enough. Star players such as Zidane, Viera and Thuram all had roots in various other countries across North Africa, The Caribbean and South America. These comments stirred up a huge amount of racial tension before the tournament and it could have potentially created a divide in the team. In fact, this did the exact opposite and the team became even more united. France beat Brazil in the final 3-0, with two goals coming from Algerian born Zinedine Zidane.
Lesson - a diverse team can be a truly great thing. People coming from all walks of life, can all offer something different to any team. This fosters tolerance and understanding between people who may not have been able to mix otherwise. It’s also a great way to challenge stereotypes and preconceptions that may exist. And as France 98 showed, a diverse team can do amazing things together.