In absence of real sports events because of this covid-19 outbreak the best thing we can do now with football is remember some famous games and competitions from the past. Betman post about Maradona goal in 1986 gave me inspiration to write something similar. It's my first World Cup. It could be interesting for Pete's contest theme to "My first World Cup" . :)

It's going to be story about former state, stealing, cheating, game fixing, attempted murder, discipline and playing until the end and Italy winning. Yes all of that in one World Cup. Yes I am an old 46 years old guy and first World Cup I saw and remember was one held in Spain in year 1982. I was 8 years old back then. That was time when we collected World Cup stickers for albums.

At that time there was a communist country named Socialistic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with Serbia (with Kosovo), Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia and Montenegro in it. Life long president Tito died 2 years ago in 1980, but state was still stable with some unrest on Kosovo in 1981 ("counter revolution" by Albanians wanted Kosovo - republic). Yugoslavia qualified for this World Cup and coach was Miljan Miljanic. Here is Yugoslavia squad:

Some very good players were inside like ex Hajduk Split winger Ivica Surjak, Red Star's superb dribbler Milos Sestic, Sarajevo's play maker Safet Susic, Hajduk's winger Zlatko Vujovic, Partizan's midfielder Zvonko Zivkovic (fast as lightening often to fast for the ball) , Dinamo Zagreb defender Velimir Zajec, Red Star legend midfielder Vladimir Petrovic and ex Radnicki Nish famous goal keeper Dragan Pantelic. It was very strong squad and people expected a lot from those players.

Unfortunately it was "time of key". Time of key means there was rule enforced by ruling party saying every republic must have some player in national squad. It was not important if he is better and deserve place in squad, but that all republics have representative. Tito's proclaimed policy about "Brotherhood and unity between nations and minorities" was still on full scene. That practically meant if Serbia or Croatia has 11 world class players for first squad, they can't all play because players from other republics must play too. Imagine it like quotes where Serbia can give n players, Croatia n, Slovenia n players etc... That's key. It was like that in appointing generals in army too.

That superb squad was in group with Spain, Honduras and North Ireland. Every single man in Yugoslavia saw us at least second if not even first in group. However things went other way. First Spain failed to win Honduras and played only 1:1 and Yugoslavia went to only disappoined 0:0 draw with North Ireland. Then crime started. Yugoslavia took lead against Spain 0:1, but then referee keen to help host by any means awarded them penalty for slight contact at least one meter outside penalty box. That was not all, Spain lad missed penalty, but guess what Yugoslavian goalkeeper went to much out of goal and referee decided to repeat shot. They would shot that penalty until they score goal I have no doubt about that. They scored and equalized to 1:1 and won game 2:1 by close range goal in second half. Honduras "on fire" held North Ireland to draw 1:1 too. They had great goalkeeper who swore he will not let Honduras lose game on that World Cup. :)

In last round stealing made by rascals from Spain and FIFA officials become open match fixing. Yugoslavia won Honduras 1:0 in disappointing game (on very hard way near the end if I remember correct). Spain played North Ireland and only result which could help both sides to go further was North Ireland win with exactly one goal. If they won by two goals Spain would be eliminated, if they draw or lost they would go out. Guess what happen ? They played disgraceful game which ended in 0:1 win for North Ireland and Yugoslavia went home. :) However we have no one else to blame, we played bad against North Ireland and Honduras and in only game we played well against Spain referee stole for Spain.

Ex Spain players interviewed as old man are still laughing about that penalty.

Italy played typical Italian football. That means bad playing in group stage, non deserving to proceed in next, but thanks to other squads went to next stage because they scored more goals that Cameroon (2:2 compared to Cameroon's 1:1). They payed Poland 0:0, Peru 1:1 and Cameroon 1:1. Azurri were second behind Poland.

West Germany, Austria, Poland, Italy, Belgium, Argentina, England, France, North Ireland, Spain, Brazil and Soviet Union went to next stage. It was group stage 2 where Poland was in front of Soviet Union and Belgium, Germany in front of England and Spain, Italy in front of Brazil and Argentina and France in front of Austria and North Ireland. Yes Italy was awaken and won Argentina 2:1 and Brazil 3:2.

Semi final pairs were West Germany - France and Italy - Poland. Italy won their game with 2:0, while West Germany and France game was thriller.

If you are older you might recognize some famous names here like Lothar Matthaus, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Pierre Littbarski, Paul Breitner, Hans-Peter Briegel etc... France was not weaker with Platini, Rochetau, Lacombe, Tigana, Giresse, Battiston.

Pier LIttbarski scored first goal for West Germany (there was also East Germany or Democratic Republic of Germany in that time). Platini made it 1:1 from penalty spot. France had great chance after Platini founded Battiston, but his shot went wide and German goalkeeper recklessly came into him seriously hurting him and was not sent off. France also hit bar. Game came into extra time when Tresor and Giresse scored two goals for France, but it was not enough for going to final because Rummenige and Fischer scored for West Germany and game went into penalties. You can watch highlights here:

I was delightful how West Germany is playing and learnt name Rummenige. I was supporting West Germany on that game and was crying when France made it 3:1. When my grandfather heard about it he gave me quick history lesson saying that we Serbs should always prefer nations like Russia, France, England over Germany because Germany attacked us two times while previous countries were on our side and our allies. He was Partizan fighter in World War II one who brought me to Partizan football games as kid and because of him I like football and support Partizan. :) However I was to impressed by German style of play and loved that approach with full discipline and playing full power until the last minute. Rummenige was my hero at that time. :) My father supported me saying I should support whoever I like because it's just football not war or national question.

I founded myself in Grandfathers home for final between Italy and Germany. Italy was so strong, legendary Dino Zoff on goal, Baresi, Bergomi, Gentile, Vierchowood, Tardeli, Conti, Massaro, Altobelli and one name I'll remember Paolo Rossi. Juventus legend was 25 years at that time and it was him who decided final.

Cunningly fast free kick, ball on right side cross for Rossi and it was 1:0 for Italy. Counter attack and Tardeli good shot was enough for 2:0. Italian old Prime Minister (or was he President I am not sure) celebrated on terraces like little kid. :) Altobelli finished one more counter attack and made it 3:0 before Paul Breitner made consolation goal for Germany. I was not to pleased with result but must say Italy was much better than Germany in that final and fully deserved that victory.

What was first World Cup you saw ?

Thanks for reading.