The World Cup returned to Italy in 1990, after its first visit in 1934 so becoming after Mexico the second country to host the event twice. For what promised to be a magnificent competition, with every previous winner present.
The competition saw teams ruled by fear rather than a desire to win and at 2.21 goals per game it is the lowest scoring tournament.
England included two Spurs players in Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne. Also in the squad was Chris Waddle now at Marseille and Steve Hodge who had returned to Nottingham Forest, alongside fellow Forrest player Des Walker who had trained with us as a kid.
In the same group were the Republic of Ireland, making their debut. Their manager was 1966 winner Jackie Charlton. They had just Chris Houghton from Spurs in their ranks, Tony Galvin missing the tournament through injury.
England met the Irish in their opening game and it finished 1-1, Lineker getting a goal. England then drew with Holland and beat Egypt 1-0. This was followed with a game which was settled by a late goal in extra time set up by Gascoigne as they beat Belgium.
England then lost to Italy in the 3rd place playoff. Lineker played in all the England games and scoring four times. By beating Gerry Armstrong’s three goals of four years earlier he became the top Tottenham striker at a World Cup finals. He also equaled Jimmy Greaves's record of seven appearances. Gascoigne missed the last game due to getting a second yellow card in the Germany game (1). He was however voted into the competition’s All-star team.
The competition did start with excitement as Cameroon beat the holders Argentina. They had two men sent off in this game but still held Argentina at bay. The Africans then beat Rumania and finished top of their group. They then beat Columbia to become the first African quarter finalists where they met England. For all the negativity around these finals, these were two teams that did try to entertain.
Scotland lost to Costa Rica and Brazil but beat Sweden, failing once again to get past the group stage. The Scots included Richard Gough who had been with us between 1986-88 and Gordon Durie who would sign for us the following year.
Argentina who started as fans favourites were not the team of four years earlier and showed the other side of their game. Relying of foul play, theatrical diving and constant hounding of the referee. They managed a staggering 22 yellow and 3 red cards during the competition. Two of the red cards coming in the Final, the first players dismissed in the Final game. Maradona who had been idolized four years earlier was a leading culprit and one description of him tells of a moaning, complaining prima donna.
Argentina were not the only badly behaved team as a total of 16 players were sent off, more than the two previous Finals competitions added together.
One rule introduced at this tournament, but not used, was the introduction of the drawing of lots in case teams finished the groups with identical records.
The USA team had Kasey Keller in their ranks and he will sign for Tottenham eleven years later in 2001.
The competition was won by Germany, joining Brazil and Italy on three wins each. Their manager Franz Beckenbauer had captained West Germany to the title in 1974.
Meanwhile back in N17 - Terry Venables had taken Tottenham to third in the league table.
Notes -1 - Gazza. 9/11/13
2 - Flying Down to Rio, Flight Eighteen,
Images - Top & 4 - FIFA, 3 - The Guardian, Thanks also to - BBC, ESPN, Planet WorldCup, The Times, The Telegraph, World Cup History, England on line,
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