The World Cup is the biggest football stage no question, which means it’s only fitting that the stadiums used to host these games are also among the best in the world. Special players can become immortalised at the World Cup, and the Stadia hosting these games can add significantly to the legend.
Some famous stadiums have become synonymous with World Cup history, here’s our choice for six of the best that have captured the essence and added to the mystique of the World Cup.
- Maracanã Stadium– Brazil
Where else would you start? The home of Brazilian football, the beautiful game was invented long before Pep. Host to the Brazil National team since 1950, in that time legendary Brazilians players such as Pele, Luis Alberto, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho have all graced the pitch.
The stadium has seen two world cup finals played, once in 1950 where Uruguay beat the hosts Brazil, and more recently when Mario Gotze’s extra time winner ensured Germany would be World Champions again.
- Wembley Stadium- England
According to English legend, the Birthplace of Football, Wembley stadium is an iconic footballing temple after all, according to the great Pele “Wembley is the cathedral of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football” the great man wasn’t lying.
It was during England’s 1996 World Cup triumph that Wembley catapulted itself into one of the truely great arenas of World Cup football.
England played every game at Wembley Stadium during that tournament and were crowned champions after they beat West Germany 4-2 in extra time, courtesy of a famous Geoff Hurst hattrick. What followed, lives long in the memory of English football fans.
- Azteca Arena- Mexico
The Azteca stadium in Mexico came to prominence in 1986, during the world cup that featured some truly breath-taking moments from some true greats of the game, including, Michel Platini, Michael Laudrop, Lothar Mattaus and Rudi Voller, but it was the diminutive Diego Maradona who made this World Cup his own.
Diego Armando Maradona dominated this world cup and made this ground his own, first against England where he knocked them out single handily, with one controversial goal and with perhaps the greatest world cup goal ever scored. Then in the final in front of 116,400 people he led Argentine to their second title beating West Germany 3-2.
- Stade De France- France
A relatively new entrée compared to the more historic venues but make no mistake, the Stade De France is a beautifully designed football haven and cemented its place in world cup history as it was intrinsically linked with the host nations ultimate triumph.
It was opened in time for the 1998 World Cup in France and was the venue for the final. France were due to meet Brazil, in the final everyone wanted to see, a French team with flair and strength epitomised with players such as Zidane, Viera and Desailly against a Brazil side with the best player in the world, Ronaldo. The game finished with a surprising 3-0 victory for the hosts. Many credit the win with breaking down cultural barriers in a country with a large and diverse population as locals partied long into the night celebrating the triumph.
- Soccer City (FNB Stadium)- South Africa
The first world cup to come to Africa, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. South Africa had some simply breath taking stadiums for the tournament including the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban or the Cape Town Stadium.
However, Soccer City with a capacity of 84,490 was a brilliant setting for the opening game and the final game of the tournament. Many people will remember the tournament for the infamous sound of the vuvuzela, engaging and infuriating in equal measure, but most will remember the tikka taka football of an outstanding Spanish team as they were crowned champions of the world for the first time.
- Estadio Monumental- Argentina
The name is fitting, as the scenes after Argentina won their first World cup in 1978 were indeed monumental.
The Estadio Monumental located in Bueno Aires, the capital of Argentina was opened in 1938, and is still, to this day the largest stadium in Argentina with a capacity of over 61,000.
A final which lived up to all expectation, Argentina ran out 3-1 winners over an excellent Netherlands side, with top goal scorer of the tournament Mario Kempes the hero on the day. The atmosphere around the place was incredible which even prompted Austrian commentator Edi Finger “Tor! Tor! Tor! I wer’ narrish!” which translated roughly to “I’m going crazy”.