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5 facts that bind cricket and the football World Cup

June 25, 2014 08:05 IST

5 facts that bind cricket and the football World Cup

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The football World Cup is upon us in all its glory. Even a cricket-crazy country like India is captivated by the beautiful game. That's because cricket and football have a few things in common. Rediff.com brings you five facts that bind the two great sports.

Sir Viv Richards, the legendary West Indies batsman, had sublime footballing skills.

He wasn’t just any footballer, but the only player to play in the football and cricket World Cups.

The legendary batsman represented Antigua in the qualifying rounds of the 1974 football World Cup.

Unfortunately, Antigua failed to qualify for the finals that was hosted by West Germany.

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Image: Legendary West Indies cricketer Sir Vivian Richards
Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters

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The most-capped international umpire, Steve Bucknor, cut an imposing figure on the cricket field. But before he took on the responsibilities of officiating in cricket matches, he served the great game of football.

The Jamaican was a referee in the World Cup qualifier between El Salvador and the Netherlands Antilles in 1988.

However, soon after, he had to retire from football refereeing because the FIFA age limit for referees was lowered to 45.

That is when he switched over and began his long career in cricket umpiring.

"I use my experience as a football referee when incidents occur on the field. I make sure to stop it at the first sight. If I hear the first word I am not going to allow the second,” he had told Rediff.com in this interview in 2006.

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Image: Umpire Steve Bucknor
Photographs: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images

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Sir Bobby Moore is immortalised in the annals of England’s football history.

Under his inspiring captaincy he led England to their only World Cup triumph in 1966.

But here's one fact few know: Sir Moore also played county cricket!

He was a good footballer at school level but never really excelled in the sport.

In fact, he was better at cricket, which led many to believe that he’d end up playing the game for England.

He represented Tom Hood Grammar School, in Leyton, in cricket and football, and played county cricket for the Essex Youth team.

But it was in the later years that he improved at the ‘Beautiful game’, and won the World Cup with England.

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Image: England captain Bobby Moore (centre) kisses the Jules Rimet trophy as the team celebrate winning the 1966 World Cup final against Germany at Wembley Stadium in London
Photographs: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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Former Italian international striker Christian Vieri has a rare connect with cricket.

This former Juventus, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid forward, who was raised in Sydney, had initially harboured hopes of playing professional cricket.

Vieri, who went on to become Italy's highest ever goal-scorer in the FIFA World Cup with a tally of nine goals from nine matches from the 1998 and 2002 tournaments, revealed at a press conference that his boyhood idol was former Australia captain Allan Border.

And Border himself had once revealed that Vieri would have made a fine Test cricketer if his Italian father, Roberto, had not decided to move the family home to Bologna after a decade in Australia.

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Image: Former Italy striker Christian Vieri
Photographs: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

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And, finally, the last union between cricket and football: the Mexican Wave!

Yes, you read it right.

The Mexican wave made its presence felt hugely in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

The famous wave was adopted by cricket fans as well.

Years later, Cricket Australia banned the Mexican Wave from all the international grounds because people threw objects into the air while executing it.

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Image: The crowd perform a mexican wave at the MCG
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

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