A Personal History of the World Cup: Part Six
By 1998 I had started to take an interest in football again. While I didn't play in any organised form I had joined the waifs and strays of park football at Wellington's Nairn Street Park.
Actually I think it was Euro 96 that had got me back into the swing of watching football again. I sat in a downtown bar at 7am, the only customer on a Friday morning and drank Cape Cods hoping that the Czech Republic would see off Germany. Instead I saw the first Golden Goal to decide a major tournament and left the pub at 9am in a red haze.
So when France 98 rolled around I associated watching football with party time. Thankfully I lived in a student flat where the residents enjoyed a bit of novelty. We all stayed up late watching game after game. I remember being at a party when the game between Argentina and England came on. I had to hush the party goers and silence the stereo as Beckham lashed out at Simeone in pure spoiled kid petulance. My friends thought that was the epitome of the soccer hollywood, a tap on the ankles and he's over. But in a World Cup knock out match why wouldn't you dive if someone kicks out at you? So once again a bit of gamesmanship from a Diego sunk England. Actually thats not quite right, since it was England's poor form from the penalty spot which really sent them back across the Channel early.
I also remember the stunning goal from Begrkamp which sent Argentina crashing out of the Cup. The calm finish and delicate touch was divine, to see it live on TV was a special World Cup moment:
I watched the first half of the final at home and then skateboarded down hill into town. The French Embassy in their prescience had booked out the Town Hall and erected ahuge screen. Here I watched Emmanuel Petit (He's blond, he's quick, his name's a porno flick, Emmanuel! Emmanuel! as the Arsenal fans would chant) power through the Brazilian defence to score France's third goal and send the Town Hall into ecstasy.
Afterwards I played football for hours in the adjoining Civic Square with joyous French people who weren't going to bother with work and then headed up to Nairn Park for a kickabout. I was well and truly hooked again.
Here are all three of France's goals in the final: