5. The Russian Linesman
In the 11th minute of extra time in the 1966 World Cup final, a game rife with political and historical implications, England's Geoff Hurst sent a shot toward the West German goal. The ball hit the bottom of the crossbar, bounced down and back into the playing field. Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst was unsure whether it was a goal.
Up stepped Tofik Bakhramov, forever known as "The Russian Linesman," who emphatically declared that it was a goal because he claimed that the ball had hit the top of the netting. England took a 3-2 lead and added a late goal while the spectators were already spilling onto the Wembley Stadium grounds. The 4-2 overtime victory gave England its first, and so far only, World Cup title.
The match was played barely 20 years after the end of World War II, with all the main European combatants involved in this drama. West Germans bitterly claimed that Bakhramov, an Azerbaijani by way of the Soviet Union, was avenging USSR's semifinal loss to the Germans. And the legend of "The Russian Linesman" only grew when he was asked, on his deathbed, how he could have been certain of the goal that decided the 1966 Cup. Bakhramov allegedly replied: "Stalingrad."