World Cup Retrospective - 2002

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The 2002 World Cup was the first edition to be held in Asia. Though the time difference made the games difficult to view at times, the roaring success of the tournament was evident. 

South Korea and Japan made great hosts, and the former did so well in the competition it looked like they could win it. Turkey, playing in the first World Cup since 1954, were another surprise package - finishing in third place, their best finish ever. 

Poland and Portugal returned to the big stage after long absences, whilst the Netherlands failed to qualify. Interestingly, the 2002 World Cup was the last to give the defending champions automatic qualification.


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2002 World Cup Iconic Games

Senegal vs France 

Defending champions France were rocked by the Senegalese as their campaign to retain the trophy got off to a horrible start.

A turgid performance by the French was compounded by a Papa Bouba Diop goal to give the African nation the victory.

France would draw 0-0 with Uruguay before losing 2-0 to Denmark, crashing out of the World Cup failing to score a single goal. To date, it is the worst performance by a reigning champion in World Cup history.

England vs Argentina 

Footballing tensions between England and Argentina couldn’t have been any higher in 2002. The two nations had met in a fiery encounter in ‘98, one that saw David Beckham sent off. 

Beckham, now the England captain, scored a decisive penalty as the Three Lions achieved a 1-0 victory over the Argentines. 

World Cup Retrospective - 1990

World Cup Retrospective - 1990

Brazil vs England 

England struggled through the group stage, winning just one game, before they brushed aside Denmark in the Round of 16.

Brazil, on the other hand, cruised to victory by winning all three of their group games before defeating Denmark 2-0. Blessed with an outrageously talented team, the Selecao went into this quarter-final game against England full of confidence. 

MIchael Owen opened the scoring after 23 minutes, scoring against the run of play with a cool, composed finish. However, Rivaldo equalised on the stroke of half-time, before Ronaldinho scored one of the most iconic World Cup goals of all-time.

Noticing David Seaman was off his line, the Brazilian floated in a free-kick from around 40 yards out that deceived everybody. The Arsenal keeper retreated into his net, but was unable to stop the ball from dropping into the top left-hand corner. 

Ronaldinho was sent-off shortly after for a foul on Danny Mills, but this didn’t stop Brazil from taking the victory and progressing in the semi-finals. 

World Cup Retrospective - 1986

World Cup Retrospective - 1986

Brazil vs Germany

The two most-successful teams in World Cup history met each other in the 2002 World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan, on 30 June 2002.

Two goals from the iconic Ronaldo gave Brazil its fifth World Cup trophy and its second in three tournaments. German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn collected the Golden Ball award as the best player, but this proved to be no consolation - especially considering that a few of the German players had just lost the Champions League final with Bayern Leverkusen a mere few weeks before. 

Final Standings 

Winners - Brazil

Runners-up - Germany

Third-place - Turkey

World Cup Retrospective - 1978

World Cup Retrospective - 1978

2002 World Cup Fun Facts 

  • This was the first World Cup to be held across two countries, and the second overall along with the yet-to-be-played 2026 World Cup
  • Turkey’s Hakan Sukur scored the fastest-ever World Cup goal in the third-place play-off game, netting after just 10.89 seconds
  • Brazil won all 7 of their games at this tournament 
  • Oliver Kahn is the only goalkeeper to have won the Golden Ball award
  • South Korea are the only team from outside Europe and the Americas to play in a World Cup semi-final 

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