My World Cup - Jan Vertonghen
19 June 2014|Tottenham Hotspur
Jan Vertonghen – currently at the World Cup with Belgium – reveals his memories of past tournaments.
What was the first World Cup you can recall watching?
The World Cup in the USA in 1994. I was seven-years-old and watching that tournament was my first real footballing memory. I enjoyed watching the game from a very young age.
Who were the stars you remember from that tournament?
Romario was key for Brazil and who can forget Roberto Baggio for Italy? He really got into the action in the knockout stages and scored some important goals to help the Italians reach the final. I remember those two players quite well, and also Hristo Stoichkov for Bulgaria. He had a hatful of goals in the tournament and I recall him helping Bulgaria beat Germany that year.
Have you ever been to a World Cup match as a supporter?
Never as a supporter, no.
If there was one World Cup game you could have gone to, which one would it be and why?
Having thought about it, I’ll go for the Brazil v Italy final in 1994. Although there were no goals in open play I remember the drama of the occasion. Of course it was Brazil who lifted the trophy after the penalty shootout.
What are the best memories you have of your own country at the World Cup?
Belgium did well in 1994 so obviously I have fond recollections of that one. I remember us beating Holland in the group stage. Also in 2002 we had a good run to the last 16 where we ended up playing Brazil. They were both nice games to watch.
What has been the best match you’ve ever seen at the Finals?
That’s a tough one. Gylfi Sigurdsson has just reminded me of the Uruguay v Ghana quarter-final in 2010 – I don’t know why he’s mentioned that game but I’ll go with it! Actually there was the Luis Suarez handball incident in that match now that I think of it, and I seem to recall it went to penalties. So yes, I’ll say Uruguay v Ghana.
And what has been the best goal?
That’s got to be Giovanni van Bronckhorst for Holland against Uruguay in the semi-finals of the most recent tournament (2010). What an amazing strike that was! He picked it up on the left and just smashed it in from the wide position. It was an incredible goal.
Who do you think will have a big impact at the 2014 World Cup?
Andrea Pirlo has done well in recent competitions so because of him and certain others who have played alongside him, I’ll say Italy.
Which two teams do you fancy to make it to the final, and who will lift the trophy?
I’ll say Germany to reach the final. They will probably be there along with Brazil but I think Germany will win overall. For me, they’re the best team with the best players.