There aren’t many more boring events in football than a tournament draw.
A room full of suits. Ex-pros wheeled out to awkwardly open
lukewarm balls. Nope, not for us.
It was all so different in the Nineties. Before the 1998 World Cup draw some bright spark had the idea of playing a beautiful game of football.
The game took place at the Stade Velodrome, with the draw following immediately after.
One player from each nation competing at the tournament was selected for a Europe v Rest of the World exhibition match.
Essentially, it was the stuff dreams are made of.
We feel for whoever had the job of selecting one player from each country.
For some nations it was easier than others- see Hidetoshi Nakata’s representation of Japan or Deon Burton flying the flag for Jamaica.
In the end Europe, coached by Franz Beckenbauer, lined up with a majestic spine of Alessandro Costacurta, Fernando Hierro, Paul Ince, Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Kluivert and Alen Boksic.
The Rest of the World XI was no less glamorous.
Jacques Songo’o, arguably the finest goalkeeper to ever come out of Africa, stood in between the sticks.
But it was Carlos Alberto Parreira’s attack that really caught the eye.
Gabriel Batistuta and Ronaldo. Woof.
Romania’s Marius Lacatus put Europe ahead after jumping on a Nourredine Naybet backpass to score the type of goal you only see in exhibition matches.
The Rest of the World hit back as Colombia’s Antony de Avila snuck onto a Ronaldo through ball and slotted past Germany’s Andreas Kopke.
Then the party really got going. Ronaldo took Hierro for a quick samba dancing lesson before hammering a shot into the bottom corner. 2-1.
He then set Batistuta up twice to make it 4-1. The first was a typical ruthlessly placed shot from outside the box.
The second a hammer blow from close range after a sublime through ball from R9.
Batigol returned the compliment with a raking pass to put Ronaldo through on goal. The Brazilian did the rest to make it 5-1 at half-time.
Time for Zizou to make Europe great again.
Well, not quite, but the Juventus midfielder certainly gave it a good go.
The Frenchman made Paraguayan keeper Ruben Martin Ruiz Diaz scramble on his hands and knees before somehow finding a way past two Rest of the World defenders on the line.
There was still time for a bit of chaos.
Burton came on for Ronaldo to fulfil every Derby County fan’s wildest dream, before the referee called time on the game early to avoid the World Cup draw being delayed.
When it came to the main event Zidane had the last laugh over Ronaldo, powering France to a 3-1 win against Brazil in an infamous final.
Revenge is a dish best served in the World Cup final.
MORE FEATURES TO READ WHILE YOU PRETEND TO WORK:
- Reliving that strange season Juventus spent in Serie B
- Has there ever been a better attacking duo than Romario and Ronaldo?
- The ultimate football ‘would you rather?’ quiz