In The World Cup’s Finest we ask various individuals to delve into their own personal history of football’s quadrennial showpiece extravaganza, selecting a number of favourites as well as revealing what is their very first World Cup memory.
Carmelo Mazza, CEO at OIA Services, brings an Italian flavour to this latest edition, delving into the history of the four time world champions who are sorely missing from proceedings this year. Which World Cup final goal has Italians remembering exactly where they were? Did Brazil have a side of such quality that we will never see it eclipsed? And which country’s 2018 kit is an overwhelming standout?
First World Cup memory
13 June – 7 July 1974 (World Cup, West Germany). 7 years old, so proud of the Italian team, only beaten by Brazil in the final four years earlier, more mature now and proceeding to Germany with a long list of victories. First match, no risk at all against Haiti. On 46 min, Sanon, a very very fast unknown footballer most people had never heard of before, scored against the unbeatable Dino Zoff: Haiti 1 – Italy 0. The match ended 3-1 for Italy, but I perceived that goal as the end of the dream. In fact, a draw against Argentina and a 2-1 defeat against a great Poland and our World Cup was over. Time to enjoy the wonderful Netherlands and Kaiser Beckenbauer.
Favourite World Cup
Marco Tardelli (Italy vs Germany, 1982). Well that’s easy. The image of Marco Tardelli shouting “GOOOOOOOL” running through the field after scoring the second goal in the World Cup final will be always in the eye of my generation. All of us remember exactly where we were in that moment. I was in my parents’ house in Palermo, on an awfully hot and humid night waiting for the miracle to happen. And at the end, the miracle of Italy beating Germany did happen once again….
Pavel Yakovenko. The Soviet Union team in 1986 was just unbelievable. The 6-0 against Hungary was an astonishing show of speed and control. And at the centre of the field Pavel Yakovenko was a real master even though not as visible as the fellows Zavarov, Belanov and Rats. The defeat against Belgium in a very crazy match made me understood how football and aesthetics do not go together well.
Brazil, 1982. The most flamboyant team I have ever seen in a World Cup. Not necessary the best in terms of organisation but what a bunch of players, all at the same time. Zico, Falcao, Junior, Toninho Cerezo, Socrates, Eder, the poor Dirceu: we will never see the same quality again (well, Spain was very close in 2010). So proud Italy beat them…
Spain v Germany, 2010. Spain was a very good team and Germany was building the team that won the World Cup four years later. The match was very tense and the goal scored by Puyol was likely the most important in the tournament. Spain deserved that World Cup so much!
Croatia 2018. Well the Croatian checkered shirt is always a must. This year even better than in 1998. It is at the top of my all time list along with Celtic’s white-green horizontal stripes.
The World Cup’s Finest is to be a regular feature during the Russia World Cup, profiling a different individual each week day, if you would like to be involved please email [email protected].