The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is almost upon us. To get you in the mood for this summer’s tournament, in the week leading up to kick-off, we’ll be taking a look back at the stories behind some of the most significant world records set on the beautiful game’s biggest stage.
Today: Turkey striker Hakan Şükür and the fastest World Cup goal of all time
The 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea is often regarded as the ‘World Cup of shocks’.
Defending World Cup champions France, who also secured glory in the European Championships two years earlier in 2000, were defeated by Senegal in their first match and exited the tournament at the group stage securing just one point.
Argentina and Portugal also failed to reach the knockout stages. A further shock was that England weren’t defeated by penalties.
Hosts Japan and South Korea both advanced to the knockout rounds with the latter miraculously reaching the last four where they were eliminated by Germany.
With every high, however, there must be a low and South Korea were on the receiving end of one particular record breaking feat: the Fastest goal in a football (soccer) FIFA World Cup match.
The record-breaking strike was to come in the 3 rd place playoff when Turkey’s captain and talisman Hakan Şükür pressed and pounced on some sluggish defending from Hong Myung-bo in the Korean defence to score after just 10.8 seconds.
You could possibly excuse Hong Myung-bo and his teammates for this particular mistake after their astonishing achievement at reaching this stage, but this didn’t stop Şükür from wheeling away in delight as his quick thinking and predatory instinct helped earn himself a spot in the record books.
The moment was all about Şükür. Despite being tipped as a player to watch ahead of the World Cup, he had failed to net a single goal during the entire tournament prior to his record breaking achievement. The relief was all too clear to see in his celebration after his history-making strike.
"The goal was late in coming - I had to wait until today.” He was quoted in saying shortly after the match.
To put Şükür’s achievement into context with other fastest goals scored in the football arena, he betters: the fastest goal in a UEFA European Championships (1 min 7 sec scored by Dimitri Kirichenko (Russia) Greece vs Russia first round match) and the fastest Champions League final goal (52 seconds by Paolo Maldini (Italy) playing for AC Milan against Liverpool).
His achievement, however, is slower than both Roy Makaay ( fastest Champions League goal in 10 seconds for Bayern Munich v Real Madrid in 2007 ) and Ledley King ( fastest football (soccer) goal in the Premier League after 8 seconds for Tottenham Hotspur v Bradford City in 2000 )
Nicknamed the "Bull of the Bosphorus", Şükür enjoyed an illustrious career of 20 years on both the international and domestic front. With Turkey, he amassed 51 goals in total making him their leading goalscorer of all time. He also captained his country on 30 separate occasions, most notably at the 2002 World Cup.
At club level, he made 540 appearances for seven clubs in Europe scoring 258 goals in the process. Şükür’s most successful and prominent period of his club career came at Turkish giants Galatasaray who he played for in three separate spells (1992 – 1995, 1996 – 2000 and 2003 – 2008), accumulating 392 appearances, and was where he ended his career in 2007.
Şükür, who is of Kosovar-Albanian origin, scored 217 goals during his time at the club, winning the” Gol Kralı” (Turkey top goal scorer award) on three separate occasions and secured 14 major club honours.
He was a physically strong striker who also possessed a great talent in being in the right place at the right time. A real poacher you could argue which is somewhat of a dying art in the modern game today. Over the years he also scored some fine – and important - headed goals.
Despite the successes in his homeland, Şükür struggled elsewhere – in particular in Italy and England after moves to Inter Milan and Blackburn Rovers respectively.
It is also argued that, despite scoring 51 goals for his country, he failed to deliver on the biggest international stage and this can be backed up in the sense that he only scored three goals in three separate tournaments.
This, however, failed to overshadow his successes at Galatasaray and his reputation as one of the best goal-scoring talents the country has ever produced.
The 2002 World Cup would prove to be his final major international tournament appearance. He would continue playing for his country for a further five years, making his 112 th and final appearance for Turkey in a 1-0 loss to Greece in a Euro 2008 qualifier in 2007 at the age of 36.
Retirement from all forms of the game soon followed at the end of the 2007-2008 season, where he helped his most notable club, Galatasaray, to domestic league glory.
To this day, he is still a heavily discussed and prominent figure who, after a career in football, turned to politics and was elected as a Member of Parliament to the Turkish Parliament in the 2011 General Elections. He has since, however, stepped down from this position but still performs as an MP independently.
So, with the benchmark set ahead of the World Cup, which starts next week, with the time to beat standing at 10.8 seconds, will this be one of many records broken at the 2014 World Cup?
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, are you ready?
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