By Jon Whittingham, programme leader for BA (Hons) Sports Business & Coaching at UCFB Wembley

Jon has spent ten years working within football and sport development, including for The Football Association across a number of elite England international disability squads, and continues to coach within The FA disability talent pathway.


Like all great Hollywood scripts, every four years a new chapter is written into the folklore of world football history. Stars are born, legends are made, winners are crowned and, inevitably, there is a villain or two thrown for good measure. The global football festival that is the World Cup attracts billions of spectators, new and old, for each incarnation offering hope, inspiration and disconsolation. There can only be one winner after all…

As a coach, I am always fascinated to see how the sport is developing, and the gap between competition cycles is just large enough to offer an opportunity to determine what shifts in the styles of play there are from the previous tournament. As a fan, however, I am intrigued to see who or what will be the standout moments of the World Cup. These are moments that become the stuff of legend, spoken about for years after. Who can forget Cruyff’s legendary turn in 1974? Gascoigne’s tears in 1990, Beckham’s red card in 1998, Lampard’s “was it in or not?” strike against Germany in 2010, or Costa Rica surprising all to top their group in 2014. These are the moments that forge a lifelong attachment to the game. And that’s before we even get onto the Messi vs Ronaldo debate.

The World Cup not only impacts upon cultural folklore; big performances inevitably lead to big moves within domestic football circles and with the transfer window currently open, will we see another James Rodriquez emerge this World Cup and will they move to Premier League? Who will be the player that children want to be when playing in the school playground? What will be the new trick that will be imitated on the playing fields this summer?

From an England perspective, several questions remain unanswered based on current and historical contexts – does this squad have the right mix to progress towards the later stages of the competition and could this be the year that England finally win a penalty shootout?! Or will Jules Rimet’s glow continue to hold sway over the English national team for another four years?

What does this year’s edition hold in store? Of that we cannot be sure, but the next generation of superheroes will soon be immortalised and written into legend. It’s a story you won’t want to miss.


Read more UCFB World Cup 2018 insights here.