World Cup 1982: Brazil v Italy and ‘the day soccer died’

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Brazil and Socrates celebrate scoring against Italy at the 1982 World Cup
A draw would have put Brazil by means of right into a semi-final towards Poland

In November 2004, Brazilian soccer legend Socrates made a well-known (and quick) promotional cameo for English non-league facet Garforth City. Because the soccer correspondent for a number one Brazilian newspaper, I arrived within the West Yorkshire city to write down concerning the insanity of all of it.

An interview with the legendary midfielder – referred to as The Physician due to his medical diploma but in addition his political engagement – changed into a protracted after-hours chat at an area pub. Guards and notepads have been down as Socrates, at all times a laid-back character, chatted about soccer with a sincerity that was exceptional even for him.

It was at that pub, such an uncommon setting and so removed from his consolation zone, that Socrates made a hanging admission: he had by no means watched again Brazil’s 3-2 defeat by Italy within the 1982 World Cup – none of it. He simply could not bear to.

“I simply needn’t undergo that recreation once more,” he stated. And it’s fairly possible that refusal remained till January 2011, when he died on the age of 57.

“That recreation” was a World Cup traditional performed on a scorching Barcelona afternoon 40 years in the past. One of the feted generations of Brazilian footballers noticed their desires shattered by an Italian facet that reworked over the event, placing a stuttering begin behind them on the way in which to demolishing West Germany within the last.

With the passing of time, many older Brazilian followers have mellowed, however on 5 July 1982 the sensation was {that a} crime towards soccer had been dedicated.

Short presentational grey line

In 1982, Brazil was nonetheless dominated by the navy regime that had seized energy 18 years earlier, when left-wing president Joao Goulart was ousted in a coup.

Joao Figueiredo, an Military common, had turn into president in 1979 with the mission of overseeing a clean return to democratic methods, however there have been rising requires a quicker handover throughout what was a turbulent time for the Brazilian financial system.

It was on this context that Tele Santana was introduced as the brand new Brazil soccer supervisor in early 1980. Santana had been a great participant – a winger who scored 164 objectives in 9 years with Rio de Janeiro facet Fluminense. He nonetheless ranks as their fourth-highest scorer.

Santana additionally constructed a fame for honest play. He had by no means been despatched off in his 12-year skilled profession. He demanded the identical perspective from his gamers.

Qualifiers for the 1982 World Cup in Spain began with scrappy 1-0 and 2-1 away wins over Venezuela and Bolivia, however Brazil quickly hit a powerful stride within the house video games, beating the identical opponents 5-0 and 3-1. In a Might 1981 European tour, they raised eyebrows by beating England, France and Germany within the house of some days.

However Brazil have been doing greater than profitable. They have been enjoying a fluid recreation that might not have been extra completely different to the tactically disciplined model that had infuriated followers within the post-Pele period.

The exploits of Pele and Brazil on the 1970 World Cup had appeared like a protracted forgotten dream throughout uninspired campaigns within the two following tournaments, regardless of the workforce ending within the final 4 on each events.

Now, in addition to Socrates, the Selecao had Zico, the mercurial Flamengo playmaker, pulling the reins. Theirs was a flowing model of soccer the place no participant appeared to the touch the ball greater than twice earlier than passing it spherical. It was nice to observe and, in keeping with Zico, it felt even better to play.

“We have been adamant Brazil needed to abide by the model that had made it well-known. It could be fallacious from the begin to be petrified of shedding or to be a hostage of the end result,” he says.

“We needed to take pleasure in what we have been doing. We felt that one thing actually particular was occurring.”

So did thousands and thousands of Brazilians. Within the streets, bunting was going up as if in preparation for a royal wedding ceremony or a coronation. At a time throughout which Brazilian gamers have been principally plying their commerce domestically – Roma’s Falcao a uncommon exception – you may stumble upon a global star on a visit to a Rio grocery store.

“Supporters would by no means maintain again from giving us an earful, however at the very least they recognized with us as a result of we have been all enjoying in Brazil on the time,” Zico says.

“Lately gamers just about soar on a aircraft and fly overseas virtually instantly after they play with the nationwide workforce in Brazil.”

Socrates was 50 years previous when he got here out of retirement to play for Garforth City

Expectations across the workforce have been understandably excessive, and in Spain Brazil opened their World Cup marketing campaign with a dramatic 2-1 win over the Soviet Union earlier than thrashing Scotland 4-1 and New Zealand 4-0.

The event began with 24 groups in six teams of 4. The six group winners and runners-up went by means of to a second group stage. The 4 winners of these teams of three would contest the semi-finals.

Brazil discovered themselves within the firm of regional rivals Argentina and an Italy facet that had drawn all three of their first-round video games, barely making it out of a gaggle that featured Poland, Cameroon and Peru.

Italy’s build-up to the event had been outlined by the scenario surrounding striker Paolo Rossi. In 1980 Rossi was concerned in a match-fixing scandal and his two-year suspension ended solely eight weeks earlier than the beginning of the World Cup. Supervisor Enzo Bearzot nonetheless included the Juventus striker in his squad.

Protection within the nation’s media and the perspective of followers made for a sombre temper after they lined as much as play Argentina on 29 June. Ninety minutes later they’d gained their first match in Spain. When Argentina have been then put to the sword by Brazil in a blistering 3-1 win, the scene was set for a decisive showdown between two enjoying kinds that could not be extra contrasting.

Italy celebrate in the 1982 final against West Germany
Italy’s victory over West Germany within the 1982 last featured Marco Tardelli’s iconic celebration

“You play there. Is there something you need to say?”

Santana fired this query on the finish of a workforce discuss in Barcelona. Falcao was already anxious concerning the winner-takes-all recreation to be performed towards Italy at Espanyol’s now demolished Sarria stadium.

The Roma midfielder could be dealing with well-known opponents, and he feared his Brazil team-mates had the fallacious concept about the actual hazard they introduced, due to their stumbling begin.

When prompted by the supervisor, Falcao expressed his fear concerning the potential position of Italian left-back Antonio Cabrini, a skilful participant who was fairly useful in assault. And that defender Claudio Gentile would in all probability keep on with Zico like glue, aiming to repeat what he had achieved towards a sure Diego Maradona within the earlier recreation.

Italy’s was a mode of play that might be positioned in whole opposition to Brazil’s adventurous dedication in assault. They knew the best way to shut down and counter opponents – victory over Argentina confirmed it, a victory that revitalised them – however they would wish to fireplace up entrance, too, with a view to overcome the Brazilians. And their essential striker Rossi had but to attain within the competitors.

“That Brazil facet wasn’t from this planet,” Rossi advised me in 2006. “It had gamers who might go the ball blindfolded.

“As for me, it simply felt I used to be studying to play once more after the suspension.”

Within the Brazil camp, the temper could not be extra completely different.

“Among the lads have been teasing me and saying it will need to have been fairly straightforward to earn a residing in Serie A,” Falcao says.

Defender Oscar would later do not forget that some gamers have been already discussing the weaknesses and strengths of Poland, the opponents ready within the semi-finals.

Brazil would qualify with a draw – for they’d a greater objective distinction – however Zico recollects: “Within the dressing room earlier than the sport, Tele (Santana) by no means advised us to carry again. Our dedication was at all times to go for the win, that was the true Brazilian manner.”

Brazil celebrate scoring against Argentina at the 1982 World Cup
Brazil would subsequent win the World Cup in 1994 – beating Italy on penalties within the last

A lot of the group in Barcelona had not but even discovered their seats when Cabrini whipped a cross and Rossi headed in. With 5 minutes gone, Italy have been 1-0 up and Rossi had damaged his duck.

Brazil hit again shortly after by means of Socrates, however fell behind once more within the twenty fifth minute when Rossi latched on to a woeful free ball within the Brazilian backline. After they equalised as soon as extra within the 68th minute, Falcao’s screaming celebration was not solely a mirrored image of pleasure but in addition the urgency of just about choking on his chewing gum.

At 2-2, Brazil had the end result they wanted to progress. However with somewhat over 1 / 4 of an hour to go, from an Italian nook gained towards the run of play, Rossi acquired his hat-trick. Israeli referee Abraham Klein then wrongfully disallowed one other Italian objective for offside earlier than blowing the ultimate whistle on what could be endlessly identified in Brazil because the “Sarria Tragedy”.

Its legacy may be seen within the extra pragmatic and bodily kinds that may turn into extra well-liked within the nation over the following technology. When Brazil beat Italy on penalties to win the 1994 World Cup, no one might say they performed with the identical swagger.

Italy, in the meantime, adopted the upset in Barcelona by beating Poland within the semi-finals with a Rossi brace earlier than profitable their third world title by overcoming West Germany in Madrid. The previously disgraced striker, who died in 2020 on the age of 64, additionally scored within the last (3-1) and took house the Golden Boot.

“We have been clearly saddened by the end result towards Italy however everyone had clear consciences,” Zico recollects.

“There may be nothing fallacious in shedding with dignity, it is part of the sport. The Selecao was going house however we had stood by our convictions till the top.”

Falcao, who noticed the twentieth anniversary of the match by publishing a guide of recollections of the 1982 marketing campaign, additionally places on a courageous face when wanting again.

“That workforce misplaced that recreation however gained a spot in historical past. I’m grateful to have been a part of one the best World Cup matches,” he says.

However among the workforce felt defeat extra deeply, few individuals extra so than Socrates.

Twenty-two years after the occasions in Barcelona, on a chilly night time in West Yorkshire, he was nonetheless struggling to come back to phrases with it.

“We had a hell of a workforce and performed with happiness,” he stated, barely elevating his eyes from the pint glass he was holding.

“Then Rossi had three touches and scored a hat-trick. Soccer as we all know it died on that day.”

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