In Sunday's knockout round clash between Mexico and the Netherlands, Dutch forward Arjen Robben appeared to embellish his reaction to being tripped by defender Rafa Marquez. Robben succeeded in winning his side a late penalty, which was duly converted by Klaas Jan Huntelaar. The Netherlands won 2-1 and advanced to the quarterfinals while Mexico went out. Robben is known for going down easy and Mexico fans have been aggrieved, despite replays indicating that Marquez had stood on the Dutchman's foot. But diving or at least embellishing, has long been a fixture in international soccer, with far more blatant dives than Robben's having decided far more important matches. We take a look back now at 10 of the greatest dives from World Cup history.
There were many glorious moments for the Spain side that stormed their way to final and ultimately, lifted the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. This was not one of them. In this group stage clash between Spain and Chile, La Roja striker Fernando Torres isn't even near the ball when he suddenly throws himself to the ground despite receiving no contact from Marco Estrada who was marking him. Spain managed to win the World Cup without any goals from Torres and in this case the rest of his team went on to score while the striker remained prostrate on the pitch. But Estrada was already on a yellow and as a result of Torres' performance, he was shown a second yellow and ejected from the match with a red. Spain went on to win the match and of course, to lift the World Cup.
Long before he became famous for biting people, Luis Suarez was an accomplished diver. While technically not a World Cup match, one of Suarez's greatest dives was in an October, 2013 qualifier against Argentina (It's a mark of Argentina's quality that so many great dives have been attempted at their expense.) With two defenders marking him and a lofted ball headed his way, the toothy Uruguay striker simply lets his legs go from under him and collapses to the turf. Bravo Luis!
Cristiano Ronaldo is known as the "world's most complete footballer." The Ballon d'Or winner is renown for his ability to outrun, out-shoot, out-dribble and yes, out-dive the best of opponents, as you can see from this clip of a dive from the 2006 World Cup against France. Ronaldo appears to be trying to head the ball but after missing his connection, simply follows through by taking a flying leap to the turf, much to the amusement of France coach, Raymond Domenech who makes what is apparently, the universal sign for diving while watching from the sidelines.
7. Daniel de Rossi - Italy vs. Paraguay, 2010
Italy midfielder Daniel de Rossi makes our World Cup diver's roll of honor for this brilliantly executed flop against Paraguay in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup. De Rossi gets major points for selling the dive as if he's just been struck by a sniper's bullet, but loses points since the ref didn't buy it and the call went Paraguay's way. Some people just have no appreciation for a brilliantly executed dive!
6. Michael Owen - England vs. Argentina, 1998
Although the English are famous for looking down their noses at the diving practices of suspicious "foreign" players, one of the greatest dives in World Cup history was performed by an Englishman. The scene was the 1998 World Cup and the Three Lions were losing to Argentina. England striker, Michael Owen burst into the box and with two defenders approaching, threw himself to the pitch, rolled to one knee and thrust his arms to the sky. The ploy worked perfectly and England were awarded a penalty, which Alan Shearer converted to tie the match at 1-1.
5. Diego Simeone - Argentina vs. England, 1998
Argentina later got one back through Diego Simeone. The future Atletico Madrid manager collided from behind with David Beckham. Knocked to the turf, Becks retaliated by kicking out at Simeone who took the opportunity to plummet to Earth. Beckham was shown a straight red card and sent off. England lost the match and crashed out of the tournament.
4. Arjen Robben - Netherlands vs. Mexico, 2014
With the 2014 World Cup still underway, it's difficult to say where Arjen Robben's effort will rank in the pantheon of great simulations so we've put him near the middle. The round of 16 clash between Mexico and the Netherlands was already into extra time when the Dutch forward dribbled his way into the penalty area and Mexico defender Rafa Marquez stuck a leg out in front of him, missing the ball but getting the man. Robben, recognizing a good opportunity when he saw it, tumbled over, adding a bit of extra relish on the way down. The ref was convinced enough to award a penalty which Klaas Jan Huntelaar converted to lift the Dutch to a 2-1 win.
3. Fabio Grosso - Australia vs. Italy, 2006
Italy fans will always remember Fabio Grosso for netting the winning penalty against France in the shootout that decided the 2006 World Cup. But before that, the defender did more than his part to help Italy reach the final. In this knockout stage encounter against Australia, with Italy down to 10 men following the sending off of Marco Materazzi and the the score at 0-0, it was deep into extra time when Grosso dribbled his way into the penalty area and fell over Australia defender, Lucas Neill, winning a penalty for Italy. Francesco Totti duly converted, Italy advanced to the next round and went on to win the World Cup. Australia were sent packing.
2. Rivaldo - Brazil vs. Turkery, 2002
At the 2002 World Cup, Brazilian Rivaldo was taking his time with a corner kick. Turkey's Hakan Unsal got impatient with him and kicked the ball at the elegant maestro's legs. Rivaldo, reacted naturally by putting his hands to his face and collapsing to the pitch in apparent agony. Hakan was already on a yellow and was shown a red by the ref. Unfortunately for Rivaldo, FIFA watched the tape and hit him with a $9,600 fine retrospectively.
1. Jurgen Klinsmann - Germany vs. Argentina, 1990
Before he was the USA's coach, Jurgen Klinsmann was a star striker who led Germany to their third World Cup in 1990. He was also a world class diver! As you'll see from this clip of the former Germany coach in the 1990 final against Argentina. As a result of Klinsmann's acrobatic antics, Argentine defender Pedro Monzon was sent off and Argentina reduced to 10 men. Germany went on to win the final 1-0, thanks in no small part to Klinsmann's flop.
- Sports & Recreation
- Arjen Robben
- Rafa Marquez
- Klaas Jan Huntelaar
- Fernando Torres