England: The phantom goal?
The 1966 World Cup final was played out at Wembley Stadium. West Germany faced the hosts, England. After ninety minutes the game was tied at 2-2, and extra time had to be played to decide which side would take the World Cup. The scores remained even until Geoff Hirst took a shot which hit the crossbar and crossed the goal line (or did it?). It was a phantom goal. The referee was undecided and consulted his assistant. In the end, the goal appeared on the England scoreboard. Minutes later, England chalked up a fourth goal and became the world champions. The English were overjoyed, whereas the Germans still have a thorn in their side over the validity (or invalidity) of the phantom goal.
Czechoslovakia: Panenka’s goal
In the 1976 European Cup Final, not even extra time was enough to tip the balance. Czechoslovakia was one step from victory during the penalty shoot-out against West Germany. The responsibility lay at the boot of Antonin Panenka. If he scored, the Czechoslovakians would be champions. The player approached the ball and just as he was about to make contact with it, he noticed that the goalkeeper was starting a dive towards the left. With the tip of his boot, the player made contact with the lower part of the ball and lifted it a couple of metres, in an attempt to ease the ball in over the goalkeepers head. The ball made its way slowly towards the centre of the goal, while the keeper, who had no time to react, was powerless to stop it. Before the ball even reached the goal, Panenka threw up his arms in celebration of Czechoslovakia’s victory and its passage into history: this penalty was christened “Panenka’s goal.”
Spain: Manolo the man with the drum
The Spanish team’s most loyal follower is the charismatic Manuel Cáceres Artesero, 57, better known as Manolo the man with the drum. A very popular celebrity in Spain, he has featured in several television adverts. Some call him a nutter, others accuse him of being a product of marketing, but this is the seventh World Cup that Manolo has been in the terraces for. Wearing his unmistakable beret and with his drum in hand, “the team’s twelfth player” acts as a shepherd for the fans, and boasts a good repertoire of patriotic songs. However, some superstitious folk blame him for the national team’s bad fortune and are calling for his early retirement. “Dear Manolo, you’ve been behind the team for twenty years. It seems that you bring a lot of bad shit stuck to that drum. You know the score. Pack your bags and please, get lost. Do it for Spain”, wrote the journalist Juan Moreno in the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Italy: Tardelli’s triumph
Those present at the 1982 World Cup Final in Spain can still hear the howls of Marco Tardelli's goal celebration, considered by some as the most effusive in the history of football. Tardelli scored the crucial second goal against West Germany, making the score 2-0. When the ball hit the back of the net, the player got up off the floor and ran, screaming like a man possessed, overcome with emotion. He ran and ran, in no particular direction, as he has admitted, until he was embraced by his team mates. His goal brought the Italian dream of winning the World Cup much closer.
Portugal: Flying the flag
Despite having such great footballers as Eusebio Ferreira Da Silva and Luis Figo, Portugal has not had much luck in the world championships. The Portuguese coach, Luis Felipe Scolari, wanted to put an end to disappointing results with a mass mobilization. He asked the Portuguese to hang the national flag in their windows and from their balconies during the 2004 European Cup, played right there in Portugal. Tens of thousands of flags coloured the buildings red and green and the entire country knew that the moment of truth had arrived. The whole of Portugal threw themselves behind the national team, but in the end, Greece got it right and took the Cup. The Portuguese will have to find another way to rid themselves of bad spirits.
The Dutch and the Germans, to the death
Matches between Holland and Germany have a particular atmosphere, one of deep-rooted rivalry born on the football pitch. In the second round of the 1990 World Cup finals, the Dutchman Frank Rijkaard, current manager at FC Barcelona, spat at the German Rudi Voëller. His first attempt missed but the second landed right in the German’s hair. Voëller’s protests were in vain when the referee adopted the equitable solution of sending both of them off. In the end, the Germans won by two goals to one. The Dutch fans were left disappointed, still wanting to sing the famous: “Schade Deutschland, alles ist vorbei, alles ist vorbei, alles ist vorbei” (Sorry, Germany, it’s all over, it’s all over, it’s all over”).
Nils Elzenga (Holland) and Bruno Barreira(Portugal) have contributed to the writing of this article.
(Illustrations: Henning Studte)