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The Xtra Historic Moment: Ruiz Praises Costa Rica's Flawless Performance Against Italy

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Prince Jean

Jun 20, 2024

The World Cup Throwback

Costa Rica’s Remarkable Journey to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Quarter-Finals: An Interview with Bryan Ruiz. Credit: FIFA

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil produced numerous memorable stories, with Costa Rica's extraordinary advance to the final eight standing out prominently. Overcoming the odds, the Ticos topped a challenging group that included former champions England, Italy, and Uruguay, propelled by Bryan Ruiz's crucial goal against Italy.

Reflecting on this historic achievement, recently retired Ruiz, who participated in his third World Cup at Qatar 2022, shared insights with FIFA on Costa Rica's incredible run and the strategies behind their success. What are your memories of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?

Bryan Ruiz: For many of us, it was our first World Cup, and we felt a lot of nerves. We were accustomed to various types of matches, but a World Cup is a unique experience, and it’s a dream for any national team player.

How did you react to the group stage draw?

I was in England when the draw happened. My wife remarked on the difficulty of our group, but I told her that playing against the best was our goal. Having three former champions in our group was unprecedented, but it was the challenge we wanted at the World Cup.

Was there a defining moment when you realized the team's potential?

One key moment was during the qualifying match against El Salvador, which we needed to win away to stay in contention. Another was the second qualifying match against the USA, following a difficult first game in a blizzard. These instances showed our resilience and determination.

What made Jorge Luis Pinto such an effective coach?

Pinto's tactical acumen was exceptional. Most of us were playing in Europe and in good form, which helped us execute his strategies effectively on the pitch.

Did Costa Rica’s victory over Uruguay in 2014 have roots in your 2009 play-off loss?

Absolutely. We were highly motivated against Uruguay, who had narrowly defeated us in the 2009 inter-confederation play-off, preventing us from reaching South Africa 2010. In 2014, we were nervous at first but managed to turn the game around after halftime, securing a memorable victory.

How do you feel about Costa Rica's match against Italy?

Pinto’s extensive study of Italian football paid off. It was a flawless game for us, tactically perfect, and we managed to nullify Italy’s threats. My goal in that match, though not powerful, was a result of excellent teamwork and strategy.

Do you often watch your goal against Italy?

Less frequently now, but when I do, the emotion in the broadcasters' calls and the celebrations still give me goosebumps.

What do you recall about your goal against Greece in the Round of 16?

The goal against Greece was precise despite the wet conditions. It felt great to contribute to the team's progress.

How pivotal was Keylor Navas in your World Cup campaign?

Keylor’s performance was instrumental. His saves, particularly against Greece, were crucial in advancing to the quarter-finals. The world recognized his talent during that tournament.

What was the significance of Costa Rica's top-eight finish?

Initially, we didn’t grasp the full extent of our achievement, but with time, it became clear. We were unbeaten in regulation time and even had chances to win against the Netherlands. Our run to the quarter-finals was a testament to our resilience and talent.

How do Costa Ricans remember the 2014 World Cup?

The passion and emotion it evoked among Costa Ricans are unforgettable. It’s a legacy that continues to bring me immense satisfaction, especially considering the sacrifices involved in a footballer’s career.

Reflecting on these moments, Bryan Ruiz's narrative of Costa Rica’s 2014 World Cup journey is one of pride, resilience, and unparalleled achievement.

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