A disappointing FIFA World Cup with too much dull defensive football and matches won on penalty kicks. The final itself between West Germany and Argentina was the least inspiring in the history of the competition and ironically decided by a late penalty converted by West Germany's Andreas Brehme. Argentina became the first team not to score in the final -- and also the first team to have not one, but two players sent off in the final.
Hosts Italy flattered to deceive before losing on penalties in the semi-finals to Argentina. West Germany won the other semi on penalties against England.
The 1990 FIFA World Cup was the pinnacle of Roger Milla's career. At 38, he had taken his leave of the big time to play for JS Saint-Pierroise, a team of modest abilities on Reunion Island. But he came out of retirement to leave a memorable mark on the Italian FIFA World Cup propelling Cameroon into the quarter-finals.
Germany take their place in history
After Mexico in 1986, the 14th FIFA World Cup returned to Europe: to Italy, a mighty footballing nation where no expense was to be spared in making the FIFA World Cup a roaring success. Ten of the twelve FIFA World Cup stadiums were given a complete facelift and the other two (in Turin and Bari), were built from scratch especially for the event.
Remembered for the feats of Milla, Schillaci and Goycochea, Italia 90 finally belonged to the Germans. In winning their third title, Germany joined Italy and Brazil as the tournament's most honoured nations.
Even though fewer nations took part in the qualifying rounds than in 1986 (112 rather than 121), reaching the finals proved to be just as difficult. Among the teams that failed along the way were Denmark, Portugal and even France, the 1986 semi-finalists having named Michel Platini as coach to replace Henri Michel.
With the exception of the Costa Ricans, who reached the last 16 in their very first FIFA World Cup finals, the first round turned out much as expected. Three players, however - Roger Milla, Salvatore Schillaci and the Argentinean goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea - all set the crowds alight. Milla, who came out of retirement to play in the tournament, became at 38 years and 20 days the oldest goal-scorer in FIFA World Cup history when he hit the net against Romania (he extended his record in the 1994 FIFA World Cup). A few days later in the quarter-finals, the old "Lion" and his Cameroon team-mates were beaten at the death by England 3-2, after leading 2-1 with ten minutes to go. Cameroon's marvellous display, along with Egypt's excellent performance, did not go unnoticed, and meant that Africa would be able to field three - as opposed to two - teams in the next FIFA World Cup in 1994.
A virtually unknown quantity at the tournament's outset, Salvatore Schillaci, better known as "Toto" in his homeland, carried an Italian eleven which, though they played entertaining football, were lacking in finishing power. Schillaci, 25, who played his club football for Juventus, was in such tremendous form - he scored six goals and finished as the tournament's top goal-scorer - that he virtually lifted Italy into the semi-finals on his own. There, however, the Squadra Azzurra went out on penalties against Argentina, having only let in two goals in seven games.
Italy's tormentor was none other than the Argentinean goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea, who came into the side to replace the seriously injured Nery Pumpido (who had a double fracture in his shinbone). As the last man in an uninspired but ever opportunist Argentinean side, Goycochea proved to be the decisive element against Brazil in the last sixteen, and then again in the penalty shoot-out against Yugoslavia in the quarter-finals and Italy in the semis.
Goycochea could do nothing, however, to stop a very disputed penalty that the Mexican referee awarded Germany in the final. The Germans, nonetheless, with victories over Yugoslavia (4-1), the Netherlands (2-1), Czechoslovakia (1-0) and England (1-1 at full time then 4 penalties to 3), were worthy champions. Well coached by Franz Beckenbauer, who had captained the 1974 West German team, they counted among their ranks Matth?us, Brehme, V?ller, Klinsmann, Kohler, and H?ssler, all great individual talents. In winning their third title, Germany joined Italy and Brazil as the FIFA World Cup's most honoured nations.
Did You Know?
Like Julius Caesar before him, Salvatore "Toto" Schillaci came, saw and conquered. For three weeks he was Italy's hero. Originally from Palermo but on the books of Juventus, he had played only one international match before the World Cup Italy 90 started. In the first Italian game he came on as a substitute and scored the 1:0 winner against Austria four minutes later. He was back on the bench again for the USA match, but was then used in every game and scored in every one too.
Thanks to his efforts, Italy reached the semi-final, where they went down to Argentina on penalties. In the play-off for third place he scored against England, giving Italy at least the bronze medal. His fame did not last long, however; top goalscorer Schillaci was a shooting star that soon faded and he quickly lost his national team place.
|adidas Golden Shoe winner||Salvatore SCHILLACI (ITA) 6|
|adidas Golden Ball winner||Salvatore SCHILLACI (ITA)|
|FIFA Fair play award||England|