Tuesday 21 May 2024, 20:30

FIFA Legends celebrate FIFA's 120th birthday

  • FIFA founded 120 years ago on 21 May 1904 in Paris, France

  • FIFA Legends look back on their favourite moments in FIFA history

  • FIFA President Gianni Infantino leading event in French capital to mark the occasion

FIFA was born on 21 May 1904 in Paris and while FIFA President Gianni Infantino leads the 120th anniversary celebrations in the French capital, a host of FIFA Legends have picked out some of their most memorable moments from the history of world football’s governing body. Cafu, Brazil: “My fondest [FIFA] World Cup memory is lifting the World Cup in 2002. Nothing tops that. Being the world champion in 2002 and lifting the trophy. Fantastic!”

Brazil celebrate as Cafu lfts the trophy

Carli Lloyd, USA: “I'd have to say the [FIFA Women’s] World Cup 2015. We hadn't won since the [FIFA] Women's World Cup in 1999, so it had been 16 long years, and the momentum was building. We had lost in 2011 to Japan in the final, and then played them in the 2015 final. And it was just … in epic fashion... winning 5-2 and just an unbelievable moment in Vancouver, Canada.”

David Trezeguet, France: “For me, the most important moment was winning the [FIFA] World Cup in 1998 with France, and then on an emotional level I was able to experience the Champs-Élysées. There was a huge crowd and it was a huge party. In France, beyond the football itself, there was a great social union, on a cultural and religious level, and it was a very important event.”

Anja Mittag, Germany: “My best memory is winning the [FIFA Women’s World Cup] title with Germany in China in 2007. That’s definitely one of the most memorable experiences I could have had. The whole tournament, being there, experiencing everything. But also the junior tournaments: Playing a [FIFA] U-19 Women’s World [Championship] for the first time, which, back then, was still an U-19 tournament. And to partake in that, which incidentally took place in Thailand, was one of my most treasured experiences.”

Aya Miyama, Japan: “My favourite FIFA tournament memory is the tournament [FIFA World Cup] in France in 1998. At that time, I watched all the games in the tournament on TV in Japan for the first time.”

Gaëlle Enganamouit, Cameroon: “My favourite memory was back on the 8 June at Canada 2015. It was the day before my birthday, and we played on the night of 8-9 June. As I was born on the 9 June, it was like a birthday gift to me to be playing in my first ever FIFA game. That’s my favourite football memory. I scored a hat-trick, so it was a nice birthday present.”

Gaelle Enganamouit of Cameroon poses for a portrait

Christian Karembeu, New Caledonia: “I have followed several [FIFA] World Cups and I have many images in mind. My first [FIFA] World Cup experience was watching it on TV, when I saw Diego Maradona lifting his first [FIFA] World Cup trophy with Argentina. I’ve admittedly managed to take part in a [FIFA] World Cup as a professional [footballer] with Les Bleus in France, and that competition was unifying for the country.”

Christian Karembeu during the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola in New Caledonia

Sami Khedira, Germany: “It’s no big secret: the [FIFA] World Cup in Brazil in 2014! The two main things I remember are the final that we managed to win and getting our hands on that beautiful trophy, and of course the legendary semi-final that we won 7-1 against Brazil. Not just the scoreline, but also the way we won. It was such a fantastic experience for us Germans that we will never forget.”

Alessandro Altobelli, Italy: “Winning the [FIFA] World Cup in 1982 in Spain. When the referee blew the final whistle, we all breathed a sigh of relief and dropped to the ground. We won the [FIFA] World Cup, after beating Argentina, Brazil and Germany. It was such an achievement.”

Mehdi Mahdavikia, IR Iran: “My favourite memory of a FIFA tournament is the [FIFA] World Cup 1998 in France. It was the first time I played for my national team at a [FIFA] World Cup and it was the first time we had qualified in 20 years. I was a young player and I scored a goal against the United States at the age of 21. It was a very special moment for me.”

IR Iran's Mehdi Mahdavikia celebrates after scoring against USA at the 1998 FIFA World Cup

John Obi Mikel, Nigeria: “I think 2014 in Brazil was pretty special. It’s always special when you play a tournament in Brazil, the country that has won the most [FIFA] World Cups. Brazil is always a country where football is special. People enjoy, live, breathe, eat football, so for me to be able to participate in a World Cup there was pretty special for me.”

John Obi Mikel of Nigeria in action

Formiga, Brazil: “One of the memories that I have from the FIFA [Women’s] World Cup is from 1995, which was my first time taking part at 17 years of age. I was learning the ropes at that time. Another memory that I have is from 2007, not just the semi-final, but the final as well. We asked for support from Brazil because we needed you [Brazil] out there on the pitch, those are the memories that I have.”

Formiga of Brazil poses for a portrait