1994 was a bad year for me personally and I was literally in tears lying on a bed in the bedroom downstairs at my old home while watching the games every day during the USA World Cup. Held in 9 cities over the country, the World Cup was a huge blur for me, even though I watch almost all the matches, uptill the semifinals when I finally cheered up. Greece, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia qualified for the world cup finals for the first time. The qualification campaigns of both Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were affected by political events. The nation of Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1992, and the team completed its qualifying group under the name Representation of Czechs and Slovaks (RCS), but failed to qualify the finals. Maradona ended his illustrious career in shame – in his 4th world cup Maradona was expelled from the tournament after he failed a drug test which uncovered ephedrine, a weight loss drug, in his blood.
But the biggest & saddest shock of this world cup – and I think it is the saddest ever – was the death of Columbian defender Andres Escobar. In the group stage match against the United States, he scored an own goal that eliminated his team. Escobar was shot to death outside a bar in a Medellín suburb only ten days later, apparently in retaliation for the own goal. As the insane idiot shot at him, he yelled “goal”,”goal” with every bullet shot! Such a tragic story. On the field Bulgaria proved to be a big surprise of the tournament; having never won a match at the world cup before, they reached the semifinals and finished 4th. Brazil won the tournament having beaten the Netherlands in the quaterfinals, Sweden in the semis and Italy in the final. In a tense final both Brazil & Italy faced off and failed to score a goal. After 120 minutes the game went to penalty shootouts and Roberto Baggio – till then Italy’s star – missed by shooting it over the crossbar, and Brazil were crowned champions for the fourth time, surpassing Italy’s 3 reigns. Sweden with mercurial star Tomas Brolin finished 3rd after beating Bulgaria 4-0.