Sporting KC players from across the globe share their favorite World Cup memories

06/11/2014 11:59 AM

06/11/2014 10:23 PM

Sporting Kansas City recently asked its fans where they were when Landon Donovan scored his unforgettable goal against Algeria that clinched the United States a spot in the knockout stage of the 2010 World Cup.

The answer was easy for Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

“Right next to him!” he responded.

Sure enough, Feilhaber entered the game as a late substitute and was one of the first people to greet Donovan after the goal.

So when The Star polled Sporting KC players and coach Peter Vermes on their favorite World Cup memories, Feilhaber’s answer was obvious. Some of the other responses are a bit less predictable — but often just as memorable in their own minds.

Aurelien Collin

Age: 28

Birthplace: Enghien-les-Bains, France

Favorite memory: “It was July 12, 1998. That’s when France won the World Cup. I was 10 years old. I was in southern France with my parents, my brother and my family. That was a very big day for France. I celebrated with champagne — without alcohol, of course.”

Sal Zizzo

Age: 27

Birthplace: San Diego

Favorite memory: “My parents are Italian, and my whole family is Italian. When the World Cup was in the U.S. in ’94, we would always watch the Italy games in my grandpa’s basement on their big-screen projector that back then was cool. I remember watching the finals and watching the penalty kicks, which Italy lost (to Brazil). That’s always pretty prominent when I think about the World Cup.”

Paulo Nagamura

Age: 31

Birthplace: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Favorite memory: “It was definitely the final that was here in the United States in the ’94 World Cup. That’s the first World Cup that I really watched all of the Brazil games. I remember Brazil beating Italy on the penalty kicks in the final. It was very exciting for me. That’s when I realized that soccer was going to be a big part of my life. I went to Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo (after the game), and everybody went there to celebrate. It seemed like the whole country was there.”

Benny Feilhaber

Age: 29

Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Favorite memory: “Landon scoring that World Cup goal to beat Algeria. No question. It was awesome. It was pretty surreal the moment that it happened. I was right behind Landon, so I could tell the ball was going to go in before he even got to it. It was cool getting back to the hotel, celebrating with our families and watching the videos and living it up all over again. We watched the videos of the bars back in the States with everybody celebrating. It was awesome.”

Ike Opara

Age: 25

Birthplace: Durham, N.C.

Favorite memory: “When the U.S. beat Mexico 2-0 in 2002 (in South Korea). I watched it at home with my brother. It was super early in the morning because of the time difference. I just remember Cobi Jones being a nuisance for the last 10 minutes. I think the Mexicans were getting frustrated, because they took out their anger on him.”

Peter Vermes

Age: 47

Birthplace: Willingboro, N.J.

Favorite memory: “Probably when we played against Italy in Rome in 1990. That game was everything. They were the host country, so walking onto the field, the atmosphere was incredible. I can’t even explain it. We lost 1-0, but we played well and we had some good chances to tie the game.”

Alex Martinez

Age: 22

Birthplace: Montevideo, Uruguay

Favorite memory: “It would have to be four years ago when Uruguay made it to the semifinals. We won (the quarterfinal against Ghana) in penalty kicks, and Sebastian Abreu chipped the goalkeeper to make it to the semifinals. That’s probably my favorite memory. I watched it from my dad’s restaurant in Charlotte, N.C.”

Dom Dwyer

Age: 23

Birthplace: Cuckfield, England

Favorite memory: “I think it’s probably (England forward Michael) Owen’s goal against Argentina in ’98. That was when he burst onto the scene (at) 18 years old. It was just amazing. I was a Liverpool fan at the time, so it was really cool.”

To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcDowell11.

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