Throughout the FIFA World Cup history, there have been plenty of memorable winners of all time. What differentiates a memorable champion from an also-ran is their ability to perform when it matters that counts.
The most celebrated sides ensure even the most seasoned fans can still recall their performance decades later. Below are some examples from the past that ensured their names would be forever etched into the history books.
Argentina – 1978
The 1978 World Cup was the first to be held in South America and the first time that Argentina won the tournament.
The Argentinians defeated Netherlands 3-1 in the final match. They were led by Diego Maradona, who became one of the greatest football players.
Maradona scored two goals in this game, including the only goal in extra time. The Netherlands had been undefeated for three years before this match.
However, they could not overcome Argentina’s strength and determination in this epic battle between two of soccer’s greatest countries.
France – 2018
France is the most recent winner of the FIFA World Cup, having won the tournament in 2018. The country’s first victory came in 1998, and they took the trophy again in 2018.
The team’s captain, Hugo Lloris, has been called a “rock-like presence” on the pitch. His performance in France’s 2-0 win over Croatia in the final helped them take home their second trophy since 1998.
France had previously lost twice in the World Cup final—in 2006 and 2010—but came back to win convincingly this year.
Italy’s 1982 World Cup win was perhaps their most memorable. After a poor showing in 1978 and 1980, Italy returned with a vengeance, winning their third World Cup title in Madrid.
They beat West Germany 3-1 to draw level with Brazil as the most successful country, with their 40-year-old goalkeeper and captain Dino Zoff becoming the oldest player to win the World Cup.
Paolo Rossi won the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top goalscorer and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.
Spain – 2010
Spain’s victory was one of the most impressive in a World Cup that saw some truly memorable performances. The team advanced through the tournament without losing a single game, and they did so in stunning fashion.
The team’s star player, Andres Iniesta, scored the winning goal in overtime against the Netherlands in the tournament’s final match.
It was an incredible moment for him and Spain—and one of the most memorable World Cup winners of all time.
France – 1998
This was France’s first World Cup triumph, and they did it in style. Aime Jacquet’s team was unbeaten throughout the tournament, but they required extra time in the last 16 and penalties in the quarter-finals. Zinedine Zidane scored a first-half double against Paraguay before Emmanuel Petit rounded off the scoring late on.