There are haunting moments in football that will most likely haunt football player’s lives forever. Every athlete dreams of making history, of being remembered for the incredible feats they achieve on the field. But for some, that dream turns into a nightmare.
These are the haunting moments in football
1. The Gerrard Slip: A Liverpool Tragedy
The Gerrard slip against Demba Ba is the stuff of legend – or nightmares if you’re a Liverpool fan. I mean, talk about a moment that will haunt you for the rest of your career.
Imagine this: it’s 2014, Liverpool is on the brink of winning their first title in 24 years, and they’re up against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. A win would have all but sealed the deal, but Mourinho had other plans. He went full-on park-the-bus mode, frustrating Liverpool at every turn.
And then came the moment we’ll never forget. In injury time of the first half, Gerrard uncontrolled a pass and slipped trying to make up for it. It was like watching a baby giraffe learning to walk, only way less cute. Demba Ba swooped in and scored, and Liverpool’s title dreams went up in smoke.
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But what really makes this moment hilarious, or tragic, is the fact that just two weeks before, Gerrard had gathered the team for an emotional huddle and screamed “we do not let this slip!” Oh, the irony. It’s like something out of a Shakespearean tragedy, only with more soccer.
2. Beckham’s Red Card: England’s Heartbreak
Hold on to your seat folks, because we’re about to talk about David Beckham’s red card in the ’98 World Cup, a moment that probably still keeps him up at night – unless he’s found a way to blame it on his hair gel.
It was in the 1998 World Cup Round of 16 games against Argentina when Beckham transformed from the nation’s darling into a villain overnight. The game was level at 2-2, with both the teams neck to neck. Against this backdrop, Beckham kicked out Diego Simeone, thus, resulting in a red card. Though England did manage to hold out for a penalty shootout despite their numerical disadvantage, they lost it in the shootout.
After that red card in the World Cup, poor Beckham was treated like the black sheep of English football – it was like everyone was avoiding him like the plague. Thank goodness he had Sir Alex Ferguson and the Man United fans to rely on, or he might have had to resort to kicking around a tin can in his backyard.
3. Karius’s Kyiv Nightmare
Back in 2018, Liverpool fans had high hopes as they took on Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League Final, but unfortunately for them, goalkeeper Loris Karius seemed to have other plans – like helping Madrid win their third title in a row! Despite early injuries to key players, Liverpool was holding their own until Karius made a howler of a mistake, allowing Benzema to score and crushing the team’s hopes of victory. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Karius went on to deflect a shot from Gareth Bale into his own net, essentially sealing the deal for Madrid.
After that fateful night in Kyiv, Karius must have been seeing Benzema and Bale ghosts haunting him every time he tried to catch a ball! Let’s just hope he’s been brushing up on his goalkeeping skills since then!
4. Euro 2020 Penalties: England’s Agony
Speaking of goalkeepers, Euro 2020 was nowhere near haunting for the Italian goalie and player of the tournament, Gianluigi Donnarumma as he managed to lead his side to glory. The same cannot be said for Saka, Sancho, and Rashford.
It was the Euro 2020 final, and England was on the cusp of ending their 55-year major trophy drought on home soil. But when Jordan Pickford saved Andrea Belotti’s penalty, the nation’s hopes were raised, only for it all to come crashing down in the shootout. Rashford, Sancho, and Saka stepped up, but Donnarumma saved the efforts, and as the celebrations erupted from the Italian players and their fans, it was clear that “It’s coming home” was not to be, leaving the trio of missed penalties to haunt England for years to come.
5. Zidane’s Final Act
Finals are always painful if you lost them. Does it ring a bell, Zidane?
Just visualize this: It’s the 2006 World Cup Final and Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest footballers of all time, is playing his last match before retiring. The game is tied 1-1 in extra time, tensions are high, and then BAM – Zidane headbutts Marco Materazzi and gets sent off. The French team goes on to lose in a penalty shootout and the whole world is left scratching their heads, wondering what the heck just happened.
Fast forward to today and you can bet your bottom dollar that Zidane is still haunted by that moment. Every time he sees a red card or someone mentions the 2006 World Cup Final, he’s probably kicking himself for letting his emotions get the best of him. But hey, at least he can take comfort in the fact that he’s still considered one of the greatest players of all time, headbutt or no headbutt.
6. Suarez’s Handball and Gyan’s Miss: Ghana’s Heartbreak
Fast forward to four years later in South Africa. Ghana was on the brink of history, about to become the first African team to reach the World Cup semi-finals. But then, Luis Suarez intervened with a sneaky handball that got him a red card. Asamoah Gyan stepped up to take the penalty and… bam… hit the crossbar!
The ball bounced back to him, but he couldn’t score. Suarez probably had a good chuckle, but hey, at least he didn’t use his teeth! Gyan later admitted that he cried all night after the miss and still feels haunted by not reaching the final. I guess Suarez’s hand isn’t the only thing that’s ghostly.
From Gyan’s heartbreaking miss to another crushing defeat, let’s talk about something which still gives Brazil nightmares.
7. Brazil’s 7-1 Catastrophe
The 2014 World Cup was supposed to be Brazil’s moment to shine, but instead, it turned into a bad hangover that just won’t go away. 7-1, well, that’s pretty much embarrassing. Rumors have it that David Luiz still wakes up in cold sweats from nightmares of Thomas Müller and Miroslav Klose running rings around him, while Dante has admitted to seeking therapy to cope with the trauma.
Let’s not forget poor Marcelo, who can’t even go to a German restaurant without being reminded of that fateful day. Even the goalposts have PTSD from being hit so many times. It’s safe to say that match was a Brazilian wax gone horribly wrong.
8. England’s Penalty Woes Continue
Well, England and penalties: a match made in hell, like two magnets repelling each other. It’s like trying to teach a goldfish how to ride a bicycle – it’s just not going to happen. Oh man, Harry Kane’s penalty miss vs France in the 2022 World Cup quarterfinals is going to haunt him and his team for ages!
It’s still not coming home as Kane missed it after having the chance to save the day in the 84th minute. But he must have been aiming for the moon because that ball went straight out of orbit.
And it’s not just England and penalties that haunt players, as we saw when Messi was haunted by the Liverpool horror show.
9. Barcelona’s Collapse at Anfield
Remember that time when Barcelona blew a three-goal lead against Liverpool at Anfield? Seriously, for Barca fans, it still stings more than a sunburn on a Mediterranean beach. How could you go down 4-3 on aggregate, despite having a 3-0 lead?
They were like chickens with their heads cut off. Messi himself admitted that it’s been tough to recover from that fateful night. He had hoped to bring the Champions League trophy back to Camp Nou, but instead, he and his teammates ended up looking like the cast of a bad horror movie.
The last one features the match of the century, folks. Two teams were tied 3-3 in extra time, and tensions were high. And you know that match. And if you don’t, you call yourself even a football fan.
10. Kolo Muani’s Miss: A Glimpse of What Could Have Been
Kolo Muani, this up-and-coming star from Eintracht Frankfurt back then, had the ball and he was sprinting towards the goal. He was about to make history! But then, out of nowhere, Argentina’s goalie Emiliano Martinez swooped in and stopped him dead in his tracks. Muani’s heart sank. He was so close!
He watched in horror as his golden opportunity slipped away. He still admits that it bothers him and should have lobbed it over the keeper or passed it to Mpabbe. Bad luck!