Ruud Doevendans

Ruud Doevendans has been an official columnist for a Dutch club and owns one of the largest collections of soccer videos containing hundreds of World Cup matches. We at PWC are proud to have him as a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of the World Cup.

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Tardelli's run to nowhereland

    Although the Brilliant Brazilians were considered as the best team of the tournament, Italy and West-Germany are the teams to play the final in 1982. In a packed Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, one-and-a-half billion people watching the match on tv. Ladies and gentlemen, here are tonight's line-ups.

    For Germany keeping goal Harald Schumacher, the world's most hated person after he badly fouled Patrick Battiston. At rightback the man with the "Bananenflanke" Manfred Kaltz, iron Karl-Heinz Förster, auzputzer Uli Stielike and the Übermensch Hans-Peter Briegel at left. In midfield threesome Dremmlah, Breitnah and Bernd Förstah, like German commentator Fritz von Turn und Taxis usually pronounces their names. In attack injured captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, always dangerous veteran Klaus Fischer and weathercock Pierre Littbarski.

    Then the Squadra Azzura. In goal 40-year old Dino Zoff, experiencing his 4th youth. In defense Giuseppe Bergomi, who could have been Zoff's son, Italian Mack the Knife Claudio Gentile, and the two centreback's, accurate and rising stopper Fulvio Collovati and fabulous libero Gaetano Scirea. In midfield, where playmaker Antognoni has to miss out, are Antonio Cabrini, battling Gabriele Oriali and Marco Tardelli, the lungs of the team. Tardelli, keep that name in mind, he will play the starring role in this story. Centreforward is new hero Paolo Rossi, assisted by quicksilver Bruno Conti on the right and bullish Francesco Graziani on the left. Let the game begin!

    But when the game starts, virtually nothing happens. The most important thing is, that Graziani has to be replaced because of a shoulder-injury by Alessandro Altobelli, whose nickname is "The Pin" and that's not because he is small and fat. But it appears to be a dull game game and nobody's trying a shot on goal. Even when Cabrini takes a penalty-kick, after Briegel tried to cut Conti's head, he shoots it miserably wide. Something must happen, somebody has to give it a serious try to score a goal. For tonight, we must find the successor of Argentina.

    Then suddenly after the break, the game explodes. Rossi reaches a low Gentile-cross earlier than his shadow Karl-Heinz Förster. Schumacher can do nothing about it and is beaten: 1-0 to the Italians. All at once we're awake again. Is this going to be interesting? Is there anything going to happen that will go into all historybooks? Yes, but we will have to wait until the 69th minute. Then Scirea gets the ball on his own half, and with an open eye for the situation crosses midfield. There is a chance for a counter-attack! Scirea sees Conti free on the right, the Roma-man receives the ball and starts one of his famous dribblings. But then, as he turns away from his marker Briegel, the ball is suddenly taken away from him by teammate Paolo Rossi. On the sly, Rossi-like. The topscorer on his turn passes the ball back to Scirea, who's in the German box now.

    History is near. Scirea backheals the ball to Bergomi. Bergomi? What is he doing on the German half? He seems to realize that himself, and the 18-year young quickly passes the ball back to Scirea, on the verge of off-side. Scirea waits and takes a look, waits and takes a look, waits and then he sees the lungs of Italy, totally free on the circle of the box, free like nobody's been before this night. Marco Tardelli picks the ball up but has to do it with his left foot and the it bounces away from him about three metres. In the end he reaches, with all fibres on a maximum tension, the Tango again and thunderbolts it, while falling, diagonally and unreachable for Schumacher, in the net: 2-0. What happens next, will make the world stop turning for about 10 seconds. Anyone who saw it will remember.

    Tardelli lost himself in an unmatched cry of joy, in total extasy, to nowhereland. A thrilling sight: his in unbelief shaking head, soaked hair, eyes as deep as a canyon, his mouth half-opened and screaming, his arms spread wide. Beautiful and shocking at the same time. An expression of the most unstoppable eruption of happiness and emotions, which was characteristic for his whole career. In Italy he was often called "Schizzo", a wild uncontrollable jet of water. And that describes exactly the way he used to play. He ran all over the field, just like he did after scoring this most important goal in his life. He couldn't stop, until he was caught and brought down by Gentile, Conti and Cabrini. They dragged him to the ground and the whole team fell upon Marco Tardelli, a leader on and off the field, who gave the world something to remember. By the way, Altobelli made it 3-0 before Breitner scored a consolation goal. Sometimes, being complete is not important. This match ended after 69 minutes.



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