​The 1999 Women's World Cup broke records on the way to becoming the first ever edition of the competition to be won by the host nation, as well as being fondly remembered for some memorable moments.

It was the tournament's third edition and the first to be hosted by Tony DiCicco's United States, garnering colossal crowds set in the backdrop of a nation expectant of success thanks to a football team steeped in talent.

WUSA Commissioner Tony DiCicco looks on

Of the 16 nations who qualified for the 1999 Women's World Cup, there were certainly a fair few contenders to lift the trophy. The USWNT were undoubtedly one of them, but there was fierce competition from some other countries with equally ambitious aspirations and boasting their own wealth of talent and experience.

Big guns Norway were the reigning champions, having overcome stalwarts Germany in the final of the previous tournament to banish memories of a 1991 final defeat to the USWNT. Ann Kristin Aarønes was featuring in her last World Cup for the Norwegians, after securing the Golden Boot in their maiden World Cup success. 

The usual suspects were also stalking a first World Cup scalp: Brazil, Sweden as well as Russia, who enjoyed a fine group campaign. And, of course, China PR.

Chinese players wait as the US attempts a winning

After being handed a group all expected them to progress from as winners, USWNT duly obliged. Denmark, Nigeria and North Korea stood in their path but were all brushed aside with consummate ease.

An opening game 3-0 win over Denmark was followed by a 7-1 hammering of a sorry Nigeria side, who had taken the lead after just two minutes in the match. Their final group match followed a similar trend, brushing aside North Korea 3-0 to set a marker for the rest of the tournament.

Not to be undone, however, Brazil were matching their rivals from the north at every step, scoring just one goal less on their way to topping their group.

Meanwhile Norway looked just as devastating going forward, netting 13 times as they made mincemeat of their group games. And well, naturally, China did the same, seeing off Sweden, Australia and Ghana to secure first in their group.

Progression through the knockout stages was never going to be easy for the hosts, and was made even more difficult when they were rewarded with a quarter final clash against Tina Theune's Germany. The Jack Kent Cooke Stadium was packed to the rafters for the clash, however, no amount of superb support could prevent Germany's opener. 

A lack of communication between Brandi Chastain and her goalkeeper led to the USWNT star passing the ball straight into her own net. Tiffeny Milbrett then pounced on some slack defending to draw her side level, but they found themselves behind once more in first half stoppage time from Bettina Weigmann's long range effort. 

However, Chastain made up for her earlier error after she reacted quickest from a corner, leaving Joy Fawcett to seal the deal in the 66th minute and book a place in the semi finals. 

Sandra Smisek,Michelle Akers

China and Norway won their respective quarter finals and met in the semis, while the USWNT's reward was a their own huge clash with Brazil after the South American side beat Nigeria 4-3. 

73,123 were in attendance to watch the match and the deafening noise was turned up to 11 after Cindy Parlow pounced on Marlisa Wahlbrink's awful mistake in net to put the hosts in front after just five minutes. It was a nail-biting affair that saw glorious chances for both sides. Nerves however, were finally put to bed in the 80th minute after legendary forward Michelle Akers scored from the spot after Mia Hamm was felled in the box.

Their win was monumental, seeing off strong challengers in the Brazilians and producing the perfect balance of attacking potency and defensive stability that would be required to see of their final opponents - China.


China had demolished Norway 5-0 to set up the final clash at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, in what ended up becoming the highest attended women's sporting event in history with an official attendance of 90,185.

The stage was set, but things didn't exactly go all the USWNT's way. Star player Akers was suffering from chronic fatigue and unable to reprise her role up front, however, such was her importance to the side she lined up in defensive midfield.

A crowd of over 90,000 watches the closing ceremon

Her role in the team proved crucial. For almost the entire game the Americans had harried China with their midfield pressing, preventing their opponents from feeding their free-scoring front line. Extra time loomed, but undeterred by the dogged defensive display of the hosts, the UWSNT had Scurry to thank for two further saves in extra time as the Chinese dominated. 

One particular save would prove decisive, though. Scurry had been beaten, but Kristine Lilly hadn't, clearing off the line to force a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.

Four perfect penalties were put away before Liu Ying stepped up to the plate for her country's third, when a moment of history would be made, as Scurry saved the first penalty of a World Cup final to make it advantage United States.

Team USA awaits the final penalty shot

Unfazed, the next four were all slotted home, leaving Chastain with the chance to write her name in American folklore. Oh my, did she deliver.

It's a historic image in United States' sporting history, an image of Chastain throwing her shirt in the air and falling to her knees with fists clenched, having smashed a wonderful left footed effort across goal to spark delirium.


Still to this day it remains the only Women's World Cup win by a host nation, and 20 years on, more history is ready to be written with the 2019 edition just a month away.