Redemption song of Rossi

Redemption song of Rossi

Italy's Paolo Rossi in action against Brazil in the 1982 World Cup.

An array of big names and teams with tremendous talent descended on Spain for the 1982 World Cup.

It wasn’t a surprise that Brazil were yet again expected to go the distance especially with a dazzling team that had Zico, Socrates, Falcao and Cerezo. This was considered arguably the best team since their 1970 triumph and the absolute super-heavyweights of this edition.

Defending champions Argentina weren’t far behind with the stout 21-year-old genius Diego Maradona, a man with shimmering footwork and near-perfect movement, leading their frontline. Mario Kempes, an absolute revelation in Argentina’s previous win, was pushed onto the wings and endured a quiet outing.

The West Germans with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Bernd Schuster fielded another strong squad, while Michel Platini was giving the French big hope. But it was the Italian forward Paolo Rossi who came, saw and conquered! It wasn’t particularly the ideal build-up to the World Cup for Rossi, who was banned for fixing in the Italian lower leagues in 1978. An initial ban of three years was subsequently reduced to two, handing him another chance, and how he redeemed himself.

Enzo Bearzot’s wards scraped through the initial stages -- 24 teams participating for the first time -- by the skin of their teeth but once Rossi found his feet, their campaign took off.

An interesting battle in the second group phase was the clash of titans -- Brazil and Argentina, Maradona versus Zico. Ugly tactics and docile referees were still a norm and teams utilised this to the maximum. Brazil did claim bragging rights but the game would probably be remembered for Maradona’s red card after he put in a frustrated tackle on Batista.

Italy stunned Brazil in the quarterfinals, and with Rossi on song, they marched into the final against West Germany. Santiago Bernabeu witnessed a third Italian triumph after Rossi, Marco Tardelli and Alessandro Altobelli ensured Paul Breitner’s goal for West Germany came to nought.

Final result: Italy: 3 bt West Germany: 1.