1990 – Where It All Begun

by Ashleigh Rose

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Every football fan has their own World Cup. The one they remember most fondly and still look back with a feeling of pure footballing nostalgia. For me, my earliest football memories full stop are of a World Cup,  and the show piece of Italia 1990. Yes I know in hindsight 1990 is seen as a dull and defensive tournament with arguably the worst final in the history, but for me it was the birth of my football education.

Italia 90 was the World Cup of Toto Schillaci coming from nowhere to be top scorer, Lothur Matthaus leading West Germany to glory over Maradonna’s disappointing Argentina and Ciao the modern mascot. The World Cup of Rudi Voller and Frank Rijkaard’s famous spat, Jack Charlton’s plucky Irish side and Cameroon‘s shock win over the reigning champions. All set against the back-drop of Pavarotti’s beautiful Nessun Dorma, a song that still sends nostalgic shingles down my spine.

Then there was England, coming into the tournament amidst hooliganism problems and an manager under pressure for announcing his upcoming departure from the national job, stole the nations hearts with an inspiring run to the semi-finals. Fans lapped up World In Motion (and of course John Barnes rap), still one the greatest football songs of all time as Gary Lineker proved he was still one of the world’s deadliest frontmen, David Platt became an overnight star and the whole country fell under the spell of Gazza-mania. All before Bobby Robson’s men bowed-out with a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out loss to the Germans after Chris Waddle’s and Stuart Pearce’s unfortunate spot-kick misses.

I as an eight-year-old who enjoyed seeing Gascoigne stick his tongue out during the national anthems and wondered what happened to Waddle’s mullet hair, absolutely balled my eyes out when England were knocked-out. That was an England team full of likeable players and led by a manager who would go on to be a national treasure,  that came home to parade through the London streets filled by thousands of Three Lions supporters saluting the heroes that came so close to becoming world champions. And it’s still the closest we’ve come since 1966. Compare that to four years ago with the Wag culture amongst players and a manager who seemed clueless at times, it’s no wonder the England team on 1990 is remembered so fondly, and why you can still buy replica shirts of the time.

Historically Italia 90’ maybe looked down upon compared to other World Cups, but it was still lit up by the talents of Baggio, Klinsmann, and  Matthaus, the goals of Platt, Caniggia and Careca, the drama of O’Leary’s penalty, the tense final and the unlikely golden boot winner, and the madness of Rene Heguita, Roger Milla and Columbia’s bird man. Ultimately it was to be West Germany’s World Cup but it could have so easily been England’s. For me though it will always be where it all begun.

Throughout this summer’s World Cup I will be doing a daily blog, commenting on all the big talking points coming out of South Africa. So make sure you check that out as well as my next blog, a look back at USA 94.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • dexylongshot

    Good work Ash!

    1990 was the same for me. I only just remember Robsons goal in 82, I was watching on a hospital bed with my old man in Black & white.
    I remember being in tears when Diego did the dirty in 86 but i only saw an handful of those games due to being at school and early nights.
    But 1990, that was whole different ball game, Gcses exams meant I was pretty much free of school forever around a day before it started and I think i only missed 2 games all tournament (One being the Argie v Brazil quarter on the sunday arvo cos I was in a Biathlon (yes, i used to be fit and healthy) and one of the Romania group games. That was a wonderful summer, i remeber going up carnaby street to load up on Union Jacks and England bits before the Holland game. Every time Nessun Dormas on, I think Gazza and Carnaby street. I was watching the 50 greatest shocks in footy last night and O”leary’s Penalty was sending shivers down the spine.

  • dexylongshot

    PS: Have you read

    “All Played Out-The true story of Italia 90”

    A great read.

Previous post:

Next post: