The 1982 World Cup – Passion, shock and Gijon

(Posted on 31/05/18)

The 1982 World Cup was one blessed with disgraced nations, lighting quick finishes and perhaps the greatest goal celebration of all time.

In July 1966 Spain ran unopposed – following a voting deal with West Germany – to stage the competition 16 years later, and that long wait was worth it for a tournament that lived long in the memory.

England may have been eliminated in the second round but they found themselves creating history in the group stages when they took on channel rivals France in their first game of the tournament. It took Bryan Robson just 27 seconds to bag the then fastest goal in World Cup history with the Three Lions going on to win 3-1 and top the group.

Robson's goal

Robson’s strike wouldn’t be the only memorable moment that summer. Hungary came into it with the record for the biggest win in World Cup history, a 9-0 drubbing of South Korea in 1954. However, when they came up against El Salvador in ’82 they’d smash that bagging ten goals in 10-1 victory.

They’re would be shocks across the campaign, with Northern Ireland providing perhaps their greatest victory in Valencia to top the group. They faced Spain in the final group stage where Watford’s Gerry Armstrong scored the only goal of the game that shook all in football. Sadly that would be where it ended, as they finished bottom of the group in the second round.

Perhaps the biggest legacy was left in the group stages of the competition. Ever wonder why the final group games of a World Cup are played at the same time? In 1982 Austria and West Germany knew they’d qualify for the second round with as things stood with the Germans a goal up. For the next 80 minutes each side knocked the ball around like nothing was happening, and as a result both went through, for the rest of time the match was labelled the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’.

Germany were at the centre of more controversy when they reached the SemiFinal and faced France. Patrick Battiston, who entered the field of play after 50 minutes found himself one on one with goalkeeper Harold Schumacher on the hour mark. Battiston’s effort went wide and to no surprise, as the German keeper rushed out like a bull and wiped the Frenchman out in what was one of the worst crimes ever seen on a football pitch. It forced Battiston – who admitted recently that the moment still haunts him - off and the goalkeeper received just a yellow for the treacherous display that would haunt his career for decades to come. The game ended 3-3 with two goals each in extra-time, before quite obviously the Germans advanced to the final on penalties.

With all that mix of bad blood from West Germany throughout the tournament, it seemed like it was good v evil when they met Italy in Madrid for the showcase.

As the world backed the Italians to triumph, Palo Rossi would hand them the lead in the second half. The forward had bagged a hatrick in the semi-final against an unbelievable Brazil side to drag them to the finale, and it looked like he was making the final push for the title.

12 minutes later, in the 69th minute a moment occurred that happens once in a generation. The sort of goal that nobody who witnessed it will ever forget, but not for it’s quality, blimey it wasn’t even the winner. However, when Marco Tardelli finished off an exceptional piece of build up play from his team mates, he ran off in a ball of sheer emotion, passion and pride. He didn’t know where he was running, I’m not totally sure he knew where he was, but it’s gone down as surely the most amazing scene of celebration that’s ever been displayed on the worlds biggest stage.

Tardelli

Although the Germans pulled one back it was Italy who had their first World Cup win, the good of football conquered the bad and the world celebrated a famous win for the Azzuri.

And that is what that world cup was all about, some moments still talked about just now, not just for the eventual winners. You ask a Hungarian or a Northern Irishman about that tournament and they’ll look at you with a grin, no matter if they were even born.

We can’t wait for more moments like this next month in Russia, why not gear up for it now and get your vintage football shirt in time for the big kick off?

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