Thursday, June 22, 2006

"You can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire..."

The 1986 World Cup in Mexico was the first one I really remember - squinting at a little TV in my bedroom, from my top bunk bed, at midnight matches such as England's disastrous 0-0 draw with Morocco (my mum called out before going to bed herself, to ask how we were doing: "Not good - Bryan Robson's just gone off injured, and Ray Wilkins was sent off a minute later..." "... Oh. Oh dear...")
Or the teatime games such as the famous "Hand Of God" nightmare on a Sunday evening - and the wild claims in school the next day that so-and-so had heard Fifa were going to order the game replayed (just as similar tales spread in desperation after the 1990 semi-final, this time that an Argentine player in the other semi had failed a drugs test and for some reason, England not Italy would benefit by their disqualification... Such useless self-delusions...)
Other memories of '86: Lineker's wrist cast - and the agonising way the ball somehow bounced back off his head instead of into the net as that Argentina game came towards an end; Maradona's solo goal in the semi-final win over Belgium, a lesser-remembered rival to his England effort as a World Cup thing of greatest beauty; Jorge Valdano, in the same game, trying to get away with a copy of Maradona's other England goal, only this time being caught football-handed; the giant spider-shaped shadow thrown over the Aztec Stadium pitch in midfield; Uruguay's Batista being sent off for a foul on Gordon Strachan after less than a minute - and Scotland still being unable to get better than a goalless draw; the cartoon chilli pepper mascot Pique, and his imprint all over the free merchandise brought back home by my dad; Josimaaaaaaaaar the flying Brazilian right-back drilling a speculative but spectacular shot past a stunned Pat Jennings; and a series of penalty shoot-outs, the most dramatic coming in France's quarter-final win over Brazil.
Before the shoot-out, Brazil should have won it in normal time but with the aid of a penalty - only for newly-arrived, injury-hampered sub Zico to miss.
He scored in the shoot-out, but two team-mates didn't - allowing France through, and ending for a third time Zico's hopes of winning the World Cup, one of the finest footballers never to have done so.
Well, he won't win it as manager of Japan, but it will be intriguing this evening to see his adopted side take on his homeland, here in the fine old Dortmund stadium.
His side look likely to bow out of the tournament today - but hopefully Zico's Japan will do so with a little of the style and flair of Zico's Brazil, while inspiring today's Brazil to finally start doing the same this summer...

I don't really like that song about him by Peter Gabriel, though.

1 comment:

Toxic said...

First memories are of '82, Robson's 27 seconder, Keegle's permy miss and Schumacher v Battiston.

Those '86 memories seem like just yesterday :(