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Reliving the 2010 World Cup



2010 FIFA World Cup

Reliving the 2010 World Cup

The 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa will go down as one of the most iconic editions of the competitions history. It was 10 years ago to the day that the tournament kicked off, the first time ever it was held on African soil. I recently came across an Instagram post which mentioned a handful of the best moments and aspects of the competition, and I was instantly hit with a wave of nostalgia. So, I thought I would remind you of some of the iconic moments that made this such a memorable World Cup.


Tshabalala’s Opening Goal

South Africa fielded a squad with only a few recognisable names. Not much was expected of the host nation, as they were up against much stronger sides. However they performed more than admirably, drawing against Mexico and beating the 2006 finalists France. However no individual moment was greater than when Siphiwe Tshabalala fired home an absolute rocket to bring the tournament to life in the opening game. As all 85,000 fans in the Soccer City stadium erupted with joy, this moment would prove to foreshadow a wonderful World Cup. The celebration and commentary to match make this a moment of absolute beauty.


The fans at the tournament were something to behold. Full of colour, dancing and noise, they rarely failed to create an atmosphere. They were helped out massively by a unique instrument, the vuvuzela. If the 2010 World Cup was a sound, that sound would no doubt be the imperious droning of the vuvuzelas. Compared to ‘a swarm of bees’, the controversial instrument divided opinion as they provided a thunderous backdrop to almost every game. FIFA would ban them in games across Europe following the tournament, and whether you loved them or hated them, you cannot deny that they helped make the 2010 World Cup unique and memorable.

Frank Lampard’s Ghost Goal

I don’t think there was a single English person who wasn’t writhing with anger and frustration when Lampard wasn’t awarded a goal in the round of 16 tie against Germany  Having gone 2-0 down, this should have been the equalising goal. Everyone watching on their TVs at home could see that Lampard’s long range strike bounced off the bar and clearly over the line. However the referee and linesman missed it, and Germany would go on to win the game 4-1. This hugely controversial moment would end up being the catalyst for the introduction of goal-line technology. Just listen to the pain in the commentators’ voices…

Waka Waka and Wavin’ Flag

Every World Cup has an official anthem. Most are alright, although they often are forgettable (can anyone tell me what the 2018 Russia World Cup anthem was?). However the 2010 World Cup was synonymous with two outstanding anthems. Waka Waka by Shakira was the official song of the World Cup. In addition to it, Wavin’ Flag by K’naan is regularly attributed to the competition. Both tunes proved to encapsulate the tournament. Every time you hear them, you cannot help but think about the 2010 World Cup.

Luis Suarez’s Handball

A revitalised Uruguay team featuring a young Luis Suarez faced a vibrant Ghana side in the quarter-finals, hoping to become the first African country to ever reach the semi-finals of the tournament. They played out an enthralling contest, going to extra time following a 1-1 draw. In the very last minute of the additional thirty, Luis Suarez, no stranger to controversy, deliberately blocked a shot on the goal-line, and was sent off. Asamoah Gyan stepped up, with all of Africa nervously watching as his penalty hit the crossbar and went over. Cue the famous Suarez celebration on the touchline, as Uruguay would go on to win the shoot-out, with Suarez painted the Uruguay hero.

Paul the Octopus

There are many trustworthy sources to choose from when trying to predict the winner of a match. An octopus, should not be one of them. Kept at the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, the octopus known as Paul was tasked with predicting the outcomes of several matches at the World Cup; all of Germany’s matches plus the final itself. His keepers would present two boxes containing food. Whichever box he ate from first was considered his prediction. Miraculously he successively predicted 8 out of 8 games, and subsequently rose to fame due as a result of his abilities.

Forlan’s Magic

There were many players hotly contested to be the best players at the 2010 World Cup. Messi and Ronaldo were already cemented as the two best players in the world, and there were many hoping to compete with them. One player who was not in the mix to begin with, was 31-year-old Diego Forlan. He carried on his impressive form with Atletico Madrid with his country. Forlan finished joint top scorer, scoring some worlds along the way. He was mesmerising to watch throughout the tournament, as he led Uruguay to their best World Cup campaign for 40 years.

Spain’s Finale Win

2010 would be the tournament where Spain finally broke their World Cup duck. They played out a closely contested, but at the same time captivating game against the Netherlands. A tough game which saw 14 yellow cards and one red card (which somehow was not for this Nigel de Jong challenge) went all the way to extra time, where Andres Iniesta fired home the winning the goal in the 116th minute. The now legendary Spain side featuring the likes of Xavi, Carles Puyol and Iker Casillas deservedly lifted the World Cup. It was a remarkable ending to a remarkable World Cup that will live long in history.


We hope you enjoyed this article ‘Reliving the 2010 World Cup’. What is your favourite moment from the tournament? Where does it rank for you compared to other World Cups? Let us know!


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Charles graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in Psychology with Sport and Exercise Science. He has been a football fan his entire life, playing Sunday league football for many years and also 7-a-side whilst at university. Charles is now following his passion by writing football related content. You can contact Charles at: [email protected]


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