Year played: 1994

Host: USA

Champions: Brazil

The 1994 World Cup in the United States took place from 17th June to 17th July and despite the country not boasting a top-level national league it was a financial success and broke the attendance record which stands to this day. Perhaps most crucially, the legacy of the tournament is the boost in popularity that soccer has enjoyed in the USA since to the extent that Major League Soccer is now a destination for some of the world’s top players – admittedly towards the end of their careers in most instances – with Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing for LA Galaxy and Wayne Rooney recently linked with DC United.

The trophy was won by Brazil for the fourth time as they saw off Italy in what was the first final to be decided by a penalty shootout. The USA were one of the four best third-placed teams in the first stage and so advanced to the last-16 where they were defeated by the South Americans in Stanford. One of the biggest upsets saw Bulgaria get to the semi-finals, where they were eliminated by Italy, but on the way they knocked out Germany in the last-eight.



Year: 1998

Host: France

Champions: France

France ’98 was an iconic tournament with a number of world stars on show, and it was the first to feature 32 teams, which is the current format in 2018, though that is scheduled to increase to 48 by the 2026 World Cup. The hosts had a great squad for the competition – which was held across 10 host cities – with youngsters Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and David Trezeguet all named by Aimé Jacquet.

Les Bleus topped Group C with maximum points against Denmark, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, conceding just once. They then beat Paraguay, Italy and Croatia on their way to the final where they faced Brazil. The South Americans had looked in strong form before the game and star striker Ronaldo, who had scored four goals, was surprisingly in his team’s line-up despite having a convulsive fit the night before.

This seemed to have a disastrous impact as France romped to a 3-0 win with Zinedine Zidane putting in a man-of-the-match performance and scoring twice to give his country a 2-0 lead at half-time; Emmanuel Petit added a third late on as the home side claimed their first World Cup trophy.