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From Hurst to Ronaldo – Top 5 World Cup final performances

| 13.07.2014

With the World Cup final drawing ever closer players from both Germany and Argentina will be dreaming of scoring the winner at the Maracana.

Over the years mere football mortals have become legends in World Cup finals and once again someone’s name will be up in lights come Sunday night in Rio.

To whet your appetite for the showpiece final Oliver Yew takes a look back at some of the standout individual performances from World Cup finals through the years.

Diego Maradona – 1986

It was fair to say Diego Maradona was the driving force behind Argentina’s 1986 World Cup victory having scored or assisted 10 of his side’s 14 goals during the finals in Mexico.

West Germany knew they had to stop the diminutive Argentinean if they had any chance of lifting the famous trophy and did absolutely everything in their power to keep El Diego out of the game at the Azteca Stadium, with Franz Beckenbauer opting to employ a double marking system.

But the Argentine captain still had the quality to deliver when his side needed it the most as he found space to deliver the final pass to Jorge Burruchaga for the winning goal in Argentina’s 3-2 victory.

Not only did Maradona have the World Cup in his back pocket he left Mexico with the Golden Ball for good measure too.

Ronaldo – 2002

Prior to the 2002 World Cup Ronaldo had barely played after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee back in 2000 and missed his country’s entire qualification campaign.

But in one of the greatest comebacks seen in football, Ronaldo returned and shone on the world stage as he led Brazil to a record fifth World Cup triumph. The former Real Madrid star scored twice in his side’s 2-0 win over Germany in the final on the way to his second World Cup triumph and the Golden Boot.

Watch both the Brazil star’s goals in the 2002 World Cup final:

Pele – 1970

Edson Arantes do Nascimento had already hit the heights of starring for Brazil in a World Cup final by becoming the youngest goalscorer in a final at the age of 17 years and 239 days.

But it’s his contribution to Brazil’s winning side of 1970 that stands out in our eyes as he fired the Selecao’s opener in their 4-1 win over Italy in the final.

The man seen by many as the world’s greatest ever player went on to create  goals for Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto and it is the latter one which will go down in history.

After a brilliant nine-pass team move Pelé rolled a perfect pass into the path of Alberto who rifled the ball into the back of the net without even breaking stride.

Football doesn’t get better than this:

Zinedine Zidane – 1998

Zinedine Zidane and the World Cup final have had a differing relationship over the years but the less said about 2006 the better as we choose to salute his crowning night in Paris in 1998.

Zizou wrote his name into the French football history books with two first-half headers in the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil at the Stade de France.

Les Bleus steam-rolled the pre-tournament favourites 3-0 to lift their first ever World Cup and Zidane became an instant national hero and as over one million French fans celebrated the victory on the Champs-Élysée. A huge image of the man of the moment and the words “Merci Zizou” were projected onto the Arc de Triomphe.

Geoff Hurst – 1966

“Some people are on the pitch! They think it’s all over! It is now!”

No list of World Cup final heroes would be complete without our very own Sir Geoff so now you can rest easy, he’s in!

England’s greatest football moment might never have happened if it wasn’t for the West Ham striker (and a certain Russian linesman!) as he fired a hat-trick to give the Three Lions a 4-2 victory over West Germany in extra-time at Wembley.

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Oliver Yew