Frank Lampard’s Phantom Goal at the 2010 World Cup

The 2010 World Cup was a tournament full of hope, as the biggest tournament in soccer finally arrived on African soil. South Africa, a country that elected Nelson Mandela president and ended Apartheid only 16 years before, was chosen as the nation to deliver it. Unfortunately, for most teams their hopes and dreams of lifting the world cup proved to be fleeting. One such team that never fails to bring expectations of success is England.

In 2010, the mighty three lions were led by generational talents such as Gerrard, Rooney, and Lampard, who were dominant for their clubs in the Premier League. Hopes were high, but a misfiring England squad crawled out of the group stage to find the well-oiled machine of the German National team awaiting them (Highlights of the game). For 19 minutes the lions stood tall against the precision and accuracy of Germany, until Manuel Neuer’s goal kick managed to split the England defense and Miroslav Klose slotted the ball past David James. “We always knew it wouldn’t be easy,” my grandfather said behind me with a clear sense that not all hope was lost for he grew up watching Sir Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, and Gordon Banks and had seen better days. Hope was easy for him, but twelve minutes later Germany tore apart the English defense again as Podolski fired home from a tight angle. My grandfather was quiet this time; our Three Lions were playing like kittens.

As hope began to leave the room filled with my family and friends, Gerrard crossed it in and Matthew Upson headed home. The room roared as faith returned to us. The English team began to gain faith and fight back against their predicted demise. The ball was fizzed in to Defoe, who was quickly tackled by Friedrich, but the ball ricochets to Frank Lampard. Lampard lofts the keeper, the ball hits the crossbar, and then the room erupts. The game is 2-2 and our hope is justified; England is back in it. The pure euphoria of the room is quickly turned to dismay; the goal does not count. Neuer grabs the ball and continues play, and soon the replay is shown. The ball is about two feet past the line, but the referee inexplicably missed it. “It’s not fair,” a fourteen-year-old boy says, but no one has any condolences to offer.

Thomas Muller scored two counter attack goals in the second half as England threw everyone forward to replace the goal that was taken away, and the game ends 4-1. “They don’t deserve to wear the badge,” says one man, while others remark on what individual player they blamed the most (for me it was David James). “Goals change games,” remarks my grandfather and soon our grief is turned to anger as we came to the conclusion that England would have dismantled the German machine if only Lampard’s goal had stood.

Some remember the “goal” because it helped led to goal line technology, but most others remember the disappointment and hopelessness. These tragic feelings don’t deter us and they don’t teach us that our expectations should be low, but instead they keep drawing us back to this wonderful game and we hope to one day get our revenge. Unfortunately for some, as Gary Lineker said, “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.[1]


[1] “‘At the End the Germans Always Win’.” Euronews. April 25, 2013. Accessed January 29, 2018.