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World Cup 2014

World Cup football: The greatest dives in history

Published on Jun 30, 2014 9:37 PM
Chile's defender Gary Medel (left) and Netherlands' forward Arjen Robben vie during the Group B football match between Netherlands and Chile at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 

They call football the Beautiful Game but some are convinced it has become an ugly aquatic sport looking at the number of dives seen at the World Cup over the years.

Wang Meng Meng looks back at - and rates - 10 of the greatest simulations seen in Brazil and classic playacting from past tournaments.

1. The German dive bomber

Juergen Klinsmann (West Germany vs Argentina, 1990)

ST Rating - 6/10

The Germans were unstoppable in their march to the 1990 world title, steamrolling past all comers. In the final against Diego Maradona's Argentina, Klinsmann, who does look a lot like Barry Manilow, belted out one of his greatest hits, jumping high into the Roman sky before executing a series of electrifying rolls on the turf.

That earned poor Pedro Monzon a red card as the Germans went on to win 1-0 in one of the worst finals ever.

2. He didn't Owen up to his dive

Michael Owen (England vs Argentina, 1998)

ST Rating - 7/10

The angelic looks. The squeaky clean image. The boy wonder of England. Just wait until Owen unleashes his "killer app". Running at the Argentinian defence, the striker was shot by an invisible sniper and tumbled to the ground.

A penalty was awarded and up stepped Alan Shearer to equalise the score at 1-1. That's revenge for the Hand of God! Or so the English thought.

3.Diego gives it Beck to England

Diego Simeone (Argentina vs England, 1998)

ST Rating - 8/10

Stung by Owen's impression of a submarine, Argentina struck back through Simeone, who barged into David Beckham from behind. An incensed Beckham flicked his heel at the midfielder, who collapsed in a sorry heap and the rest is history.

While the English cry foul over this dastardly act, those who live in a blue and white corner of South America believe that it is karma.

4. At my signal, unleash dive

Daniele De Rossi (Italy vs Paraguay, 2010)

ST Rating - 10/10

He is the emblem of Roma, the gladiator who has the heart of a warrior and a body of solid granite. So it was strange that De Rossi was shoved by some cosmic force from behind as he chased the ball alongside some Paraguayan players. It was the most blatant of dives but a perfect one, if you ask the connoisseurs.

It captured the true essence of diving. The shameless desire to cheat, the flawless execution of the dive, the exaggerated expression and the sheer indignation when the decision didn't go in De Rossi's favour. Perfecto!

5. It's ruthless. It's riveting. It's Rival... doh!

Rivaldo (Brazil vs Turkey, 2002)

ST Rating - 9/10

Taking his time for a corner kick, Brazilian maestro Rivaldo was asking for trouble against Turkey. An angry Hakan Unsal, who was already on a yellow card, kicked the ball at the playmaker's legs.

Rivaldo did the best thing he could think of - He clutched his face in agony. Unsal got his marching orders and in a case of retrospective punishment, the Brazilian was fined £4,500 (S$9,600) by Fifa.

6. I believe I can fly

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal vs France, 2006)

ST Rating - 7/10

ST Rating - 7/10

In the 2006 semi-final defeat against France, the future World Footballer of the Year polished his acting skills as he wedged himself between Claude Makelele and Willy Sagnol to meet a high ball.

Looking more like a Man who Steals than a Man of Steel, Ronaldo's Superman impression flopped miserably. But like a true Olympic diver, he refused to give up until he gets the gold medal.

7. I believe I can fly - The sequel

Ronaldo (Portugal vs Germany, 2006)

ST Rating - 8/10

More theatrics from Ronaldo in the 2006 third-place match defeat by Germany. The flying winger sidestepped German defender Christoph Metzelder but as he started to lose control of the ball, made the split-second decision to jackknife is mid-air before writhing in agony on the grass.

But this dive is an improvement over his earlier effort.

8. Greece ruins Ivory Coast party

Giorgios Samaras (Greece vs Ivory Coast, 2014)

ST Rating 9/10

Some say that Samaras is a magician on the field because he usually disappears during matches. But the Greek forward had the last laugh against Ivory Coast in this World Cup with his last-gasp miracle.

As he ran into the opponents' box, he kicked his own ankle and folded like origami to win the penalty that knocked Didier Drogba and Co. out of Brazil.

9. Right, said Fred. I'm going to earn a penalty.

Fred (Brazil vs Croatia, 2014)

ST Rating - 7/10

Fred has now become the four-letter word feared by Brazil because of his rugby conversions in front of goal. But he showed Croatia he has his moments too. After defender Dejan Lovren gently tugged at the striker's shirt, Fred took a brave pill and let gravity take over, freefalling without a parachute and letting out an almighty scream as he landed.

That won a penalty to set up the hosts' 3-1 win and more importantly, pushed Fred further towards Golden Globes glory.

10. Arjen Robber

Arjen Robben (Netherlands vs Mexico, 2014)

ST Rating - 8/10

Yes, there was contact from Mexican defender Rafael Marquez but Robben's re-enactment of a Hollywood war movie death scene was so convincing that the referee thought his legs were amputated from below the knee.

The resultant penalty sealed the Netherlands' 2-1 round of 16 win to worldwide horror. Rumour has it that Dutch airline KLM wants Robben to be the face of their new, cheap airline called Con Air.