The 2018 World Cup in Russia is nearly here. In the build-up to the most eagerly anticipated tournament in football, we're looking at a whole host of incredible records, players and moments.
This time it's a look back at France 98, the first World Cup with a golden goal, one of a record-breaking 171 strikes which found the net 20 years ago.
After the success of bringing football (or soccer) to the United States in 1994, the World Cup returned to Europe in the shape of France 98.
Astonishingly, it’s now 20 years since Zinedine Zidane inspired Les Bleus to their first World Cup triumph, and the drama surrounding Ronaldo in the run-up to the final.
Holders Brazil entered the tournament as favourites with the hosts, with a squad containing the likes of Zidane, Fabian Barthez and Patrick Vieira also expected to do well, while there were high hopes for an England side fresh off the back of a semi-final appearance at Euro 96 and cheered on by Baddiel and Skinner and The Lightning Seeds.
This was the first World Cup to have 32 teams appear at the finals, up from 24. As a result it’s not surprising the Most goals scored in a single FIFA World Cup occurred first at in 1998, with the net being burst 171 times (Brazil 2014 equalled that total).
But there were other, record-breaking achievements during that summer.
The golden goal rule for extra time (remember that?!), essentially bringing in the playground classic of ‘next goal wins’, was introduced for the first time. France’s Laurent Blanc took full advantage in the round of 16, to score the First FIFA World Cup golden goal against Paraguay.
Germany also equalled the record for the Most consecutive FIFA World Cup matchesscored in with 18, a run which started 12 years earlier at Mexico ‘86 but was brought to a halt by the tournament’s surprise package, Croatia, who went on to finish third on their World Cup debut.
And fan-favourite Gabriel Batistuta became the most recent member of a group of players to score the Most FIFA World Cup hat-tricks by a player with two (of those, he’s the only person to have done it across two separate tournaments).
France ‘98 also included some of the most memorable moments in World Cup history: David Beckham kicking Diego Simeone, THAT goal by Dennis Bergkamp for the Netherlands against Argentina in the quarter-final (and of course with THAT commentary) and the entire Romanian team dying their hair blonde.
While everyone knew about Ronaldo’s talents, it was actually Croatian Davor Šuker who walked away with the Golden Boot for top scorer .
The tournament culminated in hosts France lifting the trophy for the first time. Arguably, though, the biggest talking point at the final was what happened in the Brazil camp. Confusion reigned as golden boy Ronaldo was inexplicably left off the initial team sheet, only to appear on a revised version soon after.
After suffering a convulsive fit on the eve of the final, it was hardly surprising that Ronaldo was not himself during the match (he was a very late addition to the teamsheet) as two goals from Zidane and a late strike by Emmanuel Petit sealed World Cup glory for France.
While the 1998 World Cup was not taking football to new territories and helping to build the game up in new continents, like USA 94 and Japan/South Korea 2002 did, it was a tournament that lives long in the memory of the fans who watched it.
Photos by Shutterstock.