It’s that beautiful time where once every four years the best of the best in international soccer meet up to throw down at the game’s highest level. The World Cup is a special tournament, often offering soccer fans and players the highest highs and the lowest lows.
It’s no understatement to say that the World Cup is truly the pinnacle of professional soccer.
Heartbreak and elation are commonplace at this tournament, and every year sees shocking defeats and even more shocking victories, from Germany’s 7 – 1 thrashing of Brazil at the Brazil hosted 2014 tournament, to England snatching two late winners at their own hosted 1966 tournament, the World Cup has something for every soccer fan.
So, if you’re like me and you love soccer and the World Cup, then brush up on some World Cup knowledge here to wax at your soccer mates when you’re at the bar during the next big match.
- The World Cup is held every four years. To date, there have been 20 World Cup tournaments, the first of which took place in 1930.
- The name of the original World Cup trophy is the Jules Rimet Trophy, named after the FIFA President Jules Rimet who passed a vote to start the competition in 1929.
- Uruguay were the hosts for the first ever World Cup in 1930 and they also went on to win the tournament.
- 2018 is the first ever World Cup to be hosted in Russia.
- England have only ever hosted the tournament once in 1966, which was also the only time they ever won the tournament, defeating Germany in a dramatic last-minute 4 – 2 win. They think it’s all over, it is now.
- Almost half of the world’s population, that’s 3.2 billion people, tuned in to the 2014 World Cup.
- The 2002 World Cup, hosted by both South Korea & Japan, was the first ever World Cup to be hosted by two different nations.
- Brazil are currently the nation to boast the most World Cup wins, having won five.
- However, Germany and Italy are both close behind them, having won four tournaments each.
- Egyptian Goalkeeper, Essam El Hadary, is the oldest player to ever play in the World Cup at the age of 45, having played at the 2018 Russian World Cup. After saving Saudi Arabia’s Fahad Al Muwallad’s penalty in his last game he then became the oldest ever goalkeeper to save a penalty at the World Cup.
- The oldest person to ever score a goal at a World Cup was Cameroonian player Roger Milla, who scored against Russia in 1994.
- In the 2018 Russian hosted World Cup, the distance between Ekaterinburg and Kaliningrad, the easternmost host city and westernmost host city respectively, is 1,500 miles. That’s the same distance from Moscow to London.
- The fastest ever World Cup goal took place only 10.89 seconds after kick off and was scored by Hakan Sukur of Turkey against South Korea in 2002.
- The highest ever scoring in a World Cup match was when Austria defeated Switzerland 7 – 5 at the Switzerland hosted 1954 World Cup.
- In 1966, the World Cup trophy was stolen prior to the tournament and was missing for 7 days before being found by a dog named Pickles.
- English goalkeeper Peter Shilton, the goalkeeper of England’s winning 1966 squad, holds the highest record for clean sheets, having earned 10 clean sheets in the World Cup.
- Mexico is the team with the most losses, having lost 25 different matches since the World Cup started.
- The Italians are the team who have had the most World Cup draws with 21 draws altogether.
- Brazil are the team with the most World Cup wins, having won 70 of games at the tournament.
- Brazil also hold the record for the most wins in one tournament, winning 7 matches in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea/Japan. To put that into perspective, they won every game in the tournament that year. That’s all three Group games, their Round of Last 16 game, their Quarter Final game, Semi Final game, and then the Final match in order to win their 5th World Cup title.
- Germany have only ever failed to make it past the group stages in the World Cup twice. Once back in 1938, then 80 years later at the 2018 World Cup where they crashed out defending their title in the groups with a crushing defeat at the hands of South Korea.
- Italy and Brazil are the only two teams to ever win the tournament twice in a row.
- Indonesia is the team to have played the least amount of World Cup matches, having played only one in 1938.
- In 2026, the number of teams qualified into a World Cup will jump up from 32 to 48.
- The most goals ever scored in a single World Cup game is an impressive 5, which was scored by Oleg Salenko of Russia in 1994.
- Argentina are the team with the highest amount of red and yellow cards across all the World Cup tournaments they’ve played in.
- Retired German striker Miroslav Klose is the World Cup’s highest total goal scorer, having scored 16 goals in total.
- As many heartbroken England fans can attest, England are the team who have lost the most World Cup penalty shootouts, having lost on penalties in 3 separate World Cups.
- However, England’s soccer nemesis, Germany, are the team to have won the most World Cup penalty shootouts, having won 4 in total.
- At the onset of World War II in 1939, plans for the 1942 World Cup were cancelled, as was the 1946 World Cup due to FIFA having no funding for the tournament and still having to rebuild itself following the devastating conflict.