World Cup's Craziest Moments: Italy and Netherlands Overcome

Photo by El Gráfico via Wikipedia Commons
Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the third installment. Read the first one here and the second here.

Italy versus West Germany, Final, 1982

Italy is a team that seems to thrive on low expectations. Italians' hopes of the Azzurri achieving a third World Cup, their first since fascism ruled the country, were at a nadir as the 1982 World Cup began in Spain. They had managed only fourth place in the European Championships, held on home turf two years earlier. Moreover, a recent scandal in the Italian league had seen stars such as Paolo Rossi prosecuted and suspended for match fixing and illegal betting. That they just squeaked through the first round in '82 drew further criticism from the media, to whom the Italian players now refused to speak.

However, as the World Cup progressed, they grew in stature and were even able to conquer their old foe Brazil (whose '82 team is widely considered the best to not win the World Cup) in a thrilling 3-2 victory. Rossi's two goals against Poland in the semis sent them to the final, where they faced West Germany, whose '82 team is one of the more disliked in WC history.

However, the Italians managed to overcome the Germans 3-1 at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid and clinch their elusive third World Cup. Rossi would score again in the match, eventually taking home the prized Golden Boot for top goal scorer of the tournament.

The most enduring image of the match came from defensive midfielder Marco Tardelli. In the 69th minute, a quick pass across the box saw Tardelli initially appear to lose control of the ball slightly before lashing it into the bottom corner. Tardelli's celebration, running, tears welling, screaming, fists clenched, is the perfect expression of the passion, emotion, and ecstasy of someone who has just scored in a World Cup final. His celebration will never be topped.

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