These 19 Iconic World Cup Photos Will Break Your Heart

19 iconic photos dating back to 1986 that showcase the pain and anguish of the World Cup.

The World Cup: one team wins and becomes legend, 31 other squads face the most harrowing defeats of their careers. To the winner goes the spoils, to the loser goes tears, infamy and the lifelong question of “What if?” 

As a quadrennial event, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The sporting drama is simply unmatched at a World Cup, and sometimes, the losers are as immediately recallable as the victors (think Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt in the 2006 final). 

Here are 19 iconic photos (dating back to 1986) that showcase the agony and heartache of the World Cup. 

David Luiz after Brazil's 7-1 defeat to Germany in 2014.
Sad World Cup photos - David Luiz
@TipsandSport | Twitter

David Luiz after Brazil's 7-1 defeat to Germany.

Lionel Messi passes the trophy after Argentina lose the 2014 final to Germany.
Sad World Cup photos - Lionel Messi
@RiveraGianluca | Twitter

Lionel Messi passes the World Cup trophy after losing the final to Germany.

USA players collapse after their extra time defeat to Belgium in 2014.
Sad World Cup photos - USA vs. Belgium
@draaiomjeoren1 | Twitter
Arjen Robben’s son is disconsolate after Holland’s penalty shootout defeat to Argentina in 2014.
Sad World Cup photos - Arjen Robben's son
@102greatgoals | Twitter

Arjen Robben’s son is disconsolate after Holland’s penalty shootout defeat to Argentina.

Ghana is distraught after losing in a penalty shootout to Uruguay in 2010.
Sad World Cup photos - Ghana
@L_interiste_ | Twitter

Ghana player reacts after losing in a penalty shootout to Uruguay.

Holland's Wesley Sneijder after losing the final to Spain in 2010.
Sad World Cup photos - Wesley Sneijder
@Allsportsnews24 | Twitter

Holland's Wesley Sneijder after losing the final to Spain.

France's Zinedine Zidane passes the trophy after his red card expulsion in the 2006 final vs. Italy.
Sad World Cup photos - Zinedine Zidane
@JayHaach | Twitter

France's Zinedine Zidane passes the trophy after his red card expulsion in the final vs. Italy.

Thierry Henry goes to console Cristiano Ronaldo after France defeat Portugal in the 2006 semis.
Sad World Cup photos - Cristiano Ronaldo
@ThrowbackAFC | Twitter

Thierry Henry goes to console Cristiano Ronaldo after France defeat Portugal in the semis.

Oliver Kahn dejectedly sits at his post after losing the 2002 final to Ronaldo and Brazil.
Sad World Cup photos - Oliver Kahn
@GoalPhotos | Twitter

Oliver Kahn dejectedly sits at his post after losing the final to Ronaldo and Brazil.

Spain players are left shocked after being eliminated in a penalty shootout by South Korea in 2002.
Sad World Cup photos - Spain
@Classic11Shirts | Twitter

Spain players are left shocked after being eliminated in a penalty shootout by South Korea.

David Beckham is sent off for kicking out at Diego Simeone in England’s 1998 defeat to Argentina.
Sad World Cup photos - David Beckham
@ PlanetWorldCup | Twitter

David Beckham is sent off for kicking out at Diego Simeone in England’s defeat to Argentina.

Edmundo, Rivaldo, Cafu and Roberto Carlos after losing the 1998 final to France.
Sad World Cup photos - Brazil 1998
@90sfootball | Twitter

Edmundo, Rivaldo, Cafu and Roberto Carlos after losing the final to France.

A 20-year-old Gianluigi Buffon, Italy’s third choice keeper, moves to console Gianluca Pagliuca after a 1998 shootout defeat to France.
Sad World Cup photos - Gianluigi Buffon
@90sfootball | Twitter

A 20-year-old Gianluigi Buffon, Italy’s third choice keeper, moves to console Gianluca Pagliuca after a shootout defeat to France.

Roberto Baggio stands dejected after blazing his penalty over the bar, giving the 1994 World Cup to Brazil.
Sad World Cup photos - Roberto Baggio
@netbet | Twitter

Roberto Baggio stands dejected after blazing his penalty over the bar, giving the World Cup to Brazil.

Colombia’s Andres Escobar reacts to his own goal against the United States in 1994.
Sad World Cup photos - Andres Escobar
@MAlcarazFlores | Twitter

Colombia’s Andres Escobar reacts to his own goal against the United States.

Paul Gascoigne breaks down after England’s penalty shootout defeat to West Germany in the 1990 semifinals.
Sad World Cup photos - Paul Gascoigne
@sportbible | Twitter

Paul Gascoigne breaks down after England’s penalty shootout defeat to West Germany in the semifinals.

Diego Maradona after losing the 1990 final to West Germany.
Sad World Cup photos - Diego Maradona
@KristianBorell | Twitter

Diego Maradona after losing the 1990 final to West Germany.

Bobby Robson consoles Glenn Hoddle after England are eliminated by Argentina in 1986.
Sad World Cup photos - Glenn Hoddle
@thfcnostalgia | Twitter

Bobby Robson consoles Glenn Hoddle after England are eliminated by Argentina in 1986.

Socrates has his penalty saved in the 1986 shootout versus France.
Sad World Cup photos - Socrates
@bet365 | Twitter

Socrates has his penalty saved in the 1986 shootout versus France.

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