The inaugural World Cup was staged in Uruguay, with a nation celebrating the centenary of its first constitution and boasting the reigning Olympic football champions selected as hosts.
Uruguay, Argentina, Yugoslavia and USA topped their groups in a 13-team tournament to make the semi-finals.
There, Uruguay and Argentina each recorded convincing 6-1 wins, over the Yugoslavs and the Americans, respectively, before the hosts took the trophy with a 4-2 victory in front of more than 68,000 people at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo.
The Albiceleste did claim one honour, though,as Guillermo Stabile ended up as the tournament’s top scorer, with eight goals.
The 1934 World Cup was the first in which teams had to qualify, while 16 nations graced an expanded tournament.
Uruguay refused to participate, though, in protest at the fact that just four European teams had accepted invites to play in the inaugural tournament, which they had hosted.
The absence of the reigning champions paved the way for 1934 hosts Italy to sweep to a first success on the global stage.
In a straight knockout tournament without any group stage, the Azzurri overcame USA, Spain and Austria en route to the final, with Angelo Schiavo snatching an extra-time winner to edge out Czechoslovakia 2-1 in Rome.
However, Czech forward Oldrich Nejedly was the tournament’s top marksman on five goals.
The tournament moved to France in 1938 but Italy once again emerged victorious in what would be a record-setting triumph.
With Austria withdrawing after being annexed by Germany, only 15 teams took part, including the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and Cuba.
Italy successfully defended their crown by seeing off Hungary 4-2 in the final, with Gino Colaussi and Silvio Piola each bagging a brace.
Brazil’s Leonidas topped the scoring charts, with seven strikes.
The outbreak of World World Two meant that Italy retained the trophy for 16 years, while Vittorio Pozzo remains the only manager to have won the World Cup twice.
The World Cup returned to South America, with Brazil playing host to a 16-team tournament. It was the first event in which the winning prize was referred to as the Jules Rimet Trophy, in recognition of the Frenchman’s 25th anniversary as FIFA president.
The group stages were marked by a massive shock as USA upset a much-hyped England side but the biggest shock was reserved for the tournament decider, as Uruguay stunned an approximate 200,000 crowd at the Maracana by coming from behind to beat hosts Brazil 2-1 with goals from Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia.
The Selecao, for whom Ademir claimed the golden boot with eight goals, had only needed a draw to claim their first title - the winner was determined by the results of a three-team round robin - and an entire nation was left in a state of disbelief as the Albiceleste celebrated a second World Cup triumph.
1954: West Germany
The 1954 World Cup was held in Switzerland and expected to be won by Hungary’s ‘Mighty Magyars’, who were dominating the world scene at the time.
They were, however, to come up short in the final, as West Germany triumphed in spectacular fashion.
For the first time, there was television coverage of the tournament, allowing a global audience to witness what has become known as ‘The Miracle of Bern’, as West Germany recovered from falling two goals down inside eight minutes to prevail 3-2 in the final.
Hungarian icon Sandor Kocsis netted 11 times to finish as top scorer at a tournament which averaged over five goals per game.
A tournament famed for the arrival on a world stage of a then 17-year-old Pele. The Brazilian superstar did not make his entrance until the final round of group stage fixtures against the Soviet Union, with a first goal arriving in a quarter-final clash with Wales.
But He would go on to record a semi-final hat-trick against France and a brace in a 5-2 final victory over hosts Sweden.
Pele's heroics weren't enough to claim the Golden Boot, though, as France’s Just Fontaine managed a record-breaking 13 goals.
An event which is best known for its rather toxic atmosphere, with an infamous first-round clash between hosts Chile and Italy becoming known as ‘The Battle of Santiago’ - with two players sent off amid much on-field brawling and match referee, Ken Aston, going on to invent the yellow and red card system.
When the attention turned to football, reigning champions Brazil swept to another final and saw off Czechoslovakia 3-1 – with Garrincha and Viva (joint-top scorers on four apiece) starring after Pele was ruled out through injury after just one game.
“They think it’s all over…it is now!” – Kenneth Wolstenholme’s description of Geoff Hurst's final goal in a dramatic 4-2 victory over West Germany in the final of the 1966 World Cup at Wembley will be forever remembered by England fans.
Prior to that, North Korea had been the surprise package, drawing with Chile and beating Italy before losing to a Eusebio-inspired Portugal in the quarter-finals.
The Seleccao would then fall to England before Hurst – infamously assisted by an infamous Russian linesman – hit a hat-trick in the final to see off the Germans.
The first finals staged in North America, the first to be televised in colour, the first to include yellow and red cards and the first to involve an Adidas football (the Telstar).
Brazil, in their iconic yellow shirts, would dominate the tournament with arguably the greatest international side in history, one consisting of legends such as Carlos Alberto, Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho, Rivellino and Tostao.
Jairzinho would find the net in each of Brazil’s six games, including a 4-1 victory over Italy in the final, while coach Mario Zagallo became the first man to win the World Cup as a player and manager.
1974: West Germany
With Brazil having been allowed to keep the Jules Rimet Trophy on the back of a third triumph, the 1974 event in West Germany saw the introduction of a new prize – and it went to the hosts.
Australia, East Germany (who recorded a famous first round victory over their neighbours), Haiti and Zaire all graced the tournament for the first time, but it was West Germany who emerged victorious, coming from behind to defeat Johann Cruyff's Netherlands and their revolutionary brand of ‘Total Football’ 2-1 in the final.
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The last tournament to involve only 16 teams and the fifth to see a host nation emerge victorious.
The Netherlands made their way to another final but once again they came unstuck as, amid the ticker tape in Buenos Aires, Argentina secured a first World Cup triumph.
Mario Kempes, who finished as top scorer with six goals, was the star of the show, with a crucial brace in a 3-1 victory over the Dutch in an absorbing final which required extra-time.
With the World Cup expanded to 24 teams, the likes of Kuwait, New Zealand and Northern Ireland joined the fold.
The event in Spain also saw a penalty shoot-out feature for the first time, with West Germany edging out France following Harald Schumacher’s infamous collision with Patrick Battison during a thrilling semi-final clash.
The Germans would come up short in the final, though, with Golden Shoe winner Paolo Rossi helping Italy to a 3-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The abiding images of the game were Marco Tardelli losing all control of his emotions after netting the Azzurri's second goal, and a 40-year-old Dino Zoff lifting the trophy at the end of the game.
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Colombia had been due to host the 1986 World Cup but once they were forced to withdraw from the running for economic reasons, Mexico succesfully stepped in, in spite of the fact that the country had been rocked by a devastating earthquake the year before.
On the field, the ‘Hand of God’ ultimately helped Argentina to victory, with Diego Maradona cementing his standing among the all-time greats with a string of sensational displays, while the world was introduced to a phenomenon which quickly became known as the 'Mexican wave'.
While the diminutive playmaker’s first effort in a quarter-final win over England was controversial to say the least, his second was simply sublime, with Maradona leaving a string of players trailing in his wake before he slotted home arguably the greatest individual goal the game has ever seen.
The Argentine captain would go on to inspire a 3-2 final victory over West Germany at the Azteca Stadium.
1990: West Germany
Italy, after Mexico four years earlier, became the second nation to host the World Cup finals on two occasions, with Costa Rica, the Republic of Ireland and the UAE making their bow.
The tournament was short on goals and excitement, although Cameroon did their best to inject some fun with Roger Milla and Co., while Colombia goalkeeper Rene Higuita could always be relied upon to produce the unexpected.
In the end, West Germany prevailed courtesy of an Andreas Brehme penalty towards the end of a dreadful final clash with an obdurate Argentina side that finished with nine men on the field.
The introduction of three points for a win at a World Cup finals arrived at USA ’94, while the tournament brought about the end of Diego Maradona’s international career as he was sent home in disgrace for failing a drugs test.
Bulgaria and Sweden were the surprise packages, but the final was contested between heavyweight outfits Brazil and Italy in front of 94,000 spectators at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
A cagey encounter ended goalless, resulting in the first World Cup final penalty shoot-out. Brazil scored three times, Roberto Baggio fired over the top and the rest is history.
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Ronaldo was supposed to be the star of the show in France, but despite threatening to deliver on that superstar billing, it is his breakdown prior to a final outing against the hosts for which the tournament is best remembered.
The event also saw the format increased to 32 teams, while Golden Goals were used for the first time. France grabbed the only one in a last-16 victory over Paraguay and would go all the way, with Laurent Blanc’s kissing of Fabian Barthez’s bald head and two goals from Zinedine Zidane in a 3-0 victory over Brazil earning Les Bleus a first global crown.
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Four years on from going missing at Stade de France, Ronaldo finally delivered a talismanic World Cup showing for Brazil as he recorded a Golden Shoe-winning eight goals at a tournament co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.
The event was one of upsets, as France and Argentina fell at the group stage while South Korea reached the semi-finals.
Ultimately, though, Brazilian class shone through as Ronaldo bagged a brace in the final to down Germany 2-0 to make it five World Cup triumphs for the Selecao.
Having suffered penalty shoot-out heartache in America 12 years earlier, Italy were able to exorcise those demons on German soil in 2006.
Trinidad & Tobago, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo were among those to make their World Cup debuts, but the event will forever be remembered for Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Marco Materazzi which left France down to 10 men and heading towards spot kick heartache as Italy converted all five of their efforts and David Trezeguet fluffed his lines.
An era of dominance for Spain saw them cement a standing as the world’s best when following up a Euro 2008 triumph with global glory in South Africa.
Bafana Bafana became the first hosts to fall at the first round, while New Zealand were eliminated despite being the only unbeaten side in the tournament – collecting three draws at the group stage.
Spain passed and moved their way through the tournament, winning all of their knockout games 1-0, with Andres Iniesta grabbing an extra-time winner against the Netherlands in a final which featured 14 yellow cards and one red.
Expectation levels around the Brazilian national side were high as the World Cup returned to football’s spiritual home for the first time since 1950. However, once talisman Neymar suffered an unfortunate knock at the quarter-final stage, the writing was on the wall.
Germany hammered the hosts 7-1 in the most stunning of semi-finals before edging past Lionel Messi and Argentina in the final, with Mario Gotze grabbing an extra-time winner.
The triumph was Germany’s fourth, but their first as a united nation.