THEY say you never forget your first. And while that is broadly true, sometimes details can become hazy, worn down over the years as you hark back to a simpler time over and over again.

The first World Cup I remember – and the first time I ever recall having any kind of passionate interest in football – was France 98.

Who knows what particularly grabbed my interest? It could have been just the sheer volume of football there was or a week-long holiday during the group stages with nothing to read but the preview edition from Match magazine which hyped me up for what was to follow.

But it was definitely that summer which sparked my obsession with the beautiful game, despite some of what I remember from it not being quite accurate.

For example, I recall being fanatical about the Chile team, especially their front pairing of Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamarano.

I remember them being the classic little and large partnership that all striking tandems should inspire to be and firing their team to the knockout stages.

But what actually happened, was Chile lucked their way through the group without winning a game and got battered by Brazil in the last 16.

Salas bagged a couple of goals, but there was just one for Zamarano.

Childhood memories dashed.

The tournament also sparked a career-long fascination with Zinedine Zidane who drew a line under his domination of the tournament with a two-goal salvo in the final.

But what had been airbrushed from my memory is the great man getting sent off for a horrible stamp against Saudi Arabia and missing two knockout games.

Good thing he kept his temper in check in subsequent tournaments and didn’t tarnish his legacy even further…

Looking back now I can see the real stories of the tournament included the Les Blues uniting a nation behind their multi-cultural squad for the first time and taking home their only World Cup.

Then there was the children of war from Croatia competing in the tournament for the first time as an independent country and coming third – with another of my favourites Davor Suker bagging the Golden Boot in the process.

And the original – and much more likeable – Ronaldo lighting up the world with his buck-toothed smile from that pre-tournament advert filmed in the airport all the way to the semi-finals before falling ill hours before the climax and being forced to play - even though he clearly wasn’t healthy enough to do himself justice.

Revisiting the tournament as an adult hasn’t made me think any less of it.

I’m comforted by researching that Zamarano actually did alright in his club career despite deciding to wear a shirt which had 1+8 on the back during the end of his time at Inter.

There will be people not looking forward to this World Cup – be it the rights and wrongs of taking the tournament to Russia with their shameful record on hooliganism and racism, the money saturating the game at elite level or the undoubted influence VAR will have.

But for some wide-eyed youngsters this will be the moment they get inspired to make football their passion even though they can’t quite compute all the complexities of what is going on yet.

Hopefully we can all remember what that was like and enjoy the five weeks ahead of us.

In some ways the World Cup is simplest form of football and is undoubtedly still the game’s greatest show.

The best players, from countries the length and breadth of the globe, battling it out for the most beautiful trophy available.

I’ll be trying to watch the whole thing through a child’s eyes.