Football

The road to Rio: Countdown to the World Cup

Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT) May 26, 2014
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Norman Whiteside, pictured, became the youngest player to participate in a World Cup when he debuted for Northern Ireland in 1982 aged 17 years and 42 days. The record has previously been held by Brazil's Pele. Allsport/Getty Images/File
The 2002 World Cup saw South Korea and Japan co-host the competition. South Korea's Ahn Jung-Hwan, pictured, scored the deciding goal in the country's Round of 16 clash against Italy on June 18, 2002. The "Taeguk Warriors" went on to reach the final four making them the most successful Asian side in World Cup history. CHOI JAE-KU/AFP/Getty Images/File
Brazil are the only team to participate in every World Cup to date. This year's tournament will be the 20th FIFA World Cup. Shaun Botterill/Allsport/Getty Images
The United States hosted the World Cup for the first time in 1994. In the final, this year's host Brazil beat Italy in a dramatic penalty shootout. Getty Images
On June 21, 1970, the stage was set for an epic showdown as Brazil faced Italy in the World Cup final held in Mexico City. FIFA had announced the first team to win the title three times would take permanent possession of the Jules Rimet trophy. With both sides having previously won twice -- Italy in '34 and '38 while Brazil took the honors in '58 and '62 -- there was all to play for. Pele, pictured celebrating after the game, scored Brazil's 100th World Cup goal in the 18th minute in a resounding 4-1 victory for the South Americans. Allsport/Getty Images/File
At the 1986 quarterfinals in Mexico City, Diego Maradona scored arguably the most controversial goal in football history on June 22. In the 51st minute, Argentina's captain punched the ball over goalkeeper Peter Shilton. To the dismay of the England team, Tunisian referee Ali Bennaceur allowed the goal to stand, believing Maradona had headed the ball. He then scored one of the greatest goals in World Cup history as Argentina won 2-1 and went on to lift the trophy for the second time.​ Bongarts/Getty Images/File
Part of the West Germany squad that went on to win Italia '90, Illgner became the first goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in a World Cup final when they beat Argentina 1-0. Getty Images
Joao Havelange, pictured with his successor Sepp Blatter (L), served as FIFA president for 24 years starting in 1974 before stepping down in 1998. PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images/File
German footballing legend Lothar Matthaus has a fair few records under his belt. He's participated in five World Cups (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998), captained West Germany to glory at the 1990 tournament and continues to hold the record for the most World Cup games played (25). STAFF/AFP/Getty Images/File
An incredible performance from Argentina on June 16 2006, saw the "Albicelestes" in fine form against Serbia and Montenegro. But it was Cambiasso's goal in the 31st minute that has gone down in World Cup history. MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images/File
The 1950s was a golden time for the Hungary national football team, pictured lining up in a first round 1954 World Cup. Nicknamed the "Mighty Magyars," between 1950 and 1956 the team embarked on an incredible run winning 42 matches, seven draws and just one loss. To date, the team remains the highest-ranked national squad of all-time according to the World Football Elo Ratings system (2166 points). STAFF/AFP/Getty Images/File
A golden era for Hungarian football, the team entered the 1954 World Cup having previously played 28 games without a loss. Hungary would continue their march to victory throughout the tournament including setting the record for the most goals scored (27). But the streak came to an end in the final on July 4. Known as "The Miracle at Bern," the match saw West Germany win 3-2. Max Morlock, pictured, of West Germany scores the first goal of the 1954 final in Bern, Switzerland. Allsport/Hulton Archive/Getty Images/File
Heavy favorites England had a short-lived World Cup debut when they were knocked out of the tournament in the first round by the USA in 1950. Here the captains of England and USA, Billy Wright and Ed McIlvenny, right, exchange souvenirs at the start of their match on June 29, 1950 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Keystone/Getty Images
Uruguay became the first ever World Cup champions after hosting the inaugural tournament in 1930. Keystone/Getty Images/File
Starting on June 12, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will span 31 days with 64 matches culminating in the final at the open-air Maracana Stadium in the country's capital on July 13. Alexandre Loureiro/getty images for adidas/file
When the World Cup was established in 1930, only 13 teams participated. Teams able to qualify for the international event expanded to 24 teams in 1982 and then increased again to the now-familiar 32 teams in 1998. roberto schmidt/afp/getty images/file