I’ve Lost That World Cup Feeling

Those of you whom have had the misfortune of reading any of the inane and largely pointless drivel I have inflicted upon the faithful readership of this and the ‘other place’ over the years may know two things about me:

① I’ve no interest in football, generally (outside of Spurs); and

② I’ve no interest in the World Cup (Internationals), particularly.

These statements are an accurate representation of my current position viz the beautiful game. But it wasn’t always like this. There was a time when the game of football held me in its thrall.

As we are in the middle of a World Cup finals right now, I will push club football to the side and share some of my memories of World Cups gone by.

I’m 48 years of age, which means that, including this WC, there have been twelve WC finals during my life-time (so far). Of these twelve only three have meant anything to me: ’82, ’86 and ’98.

Spain ’82 and Mexico ’86 occurred when I was at the height of my own playing powers; yes, that’s right, I peaked between the ages of 11 and 16. I completed missed Italia ’90 due to raves and bags of little white pills. By USA ’94 my life had changed beyond recognition and I was officially disconnected from the game. I rallied briefly for France ’98 but, alas, my love for the game was dead.

The truth is, I couldn’t tell you who the WC winners were, even in those years that I was engaged, but what I do remember, and this is the point of my post, are the myths and legends of the footballing demigods who graced the game with their outrageous skill and seemingly supernatural ability.

I was a little too young to appreciate the ’78 WC first hand, but I still remember the excitment I felt when I read about the Daniel Passarella and Mario Kempes WC final goal against the Dutch. Legends.

In ’82 I watched some of the games on our family’s first colour TV. Dad bought it from a neighbor ad it was already on the way out. The tube was shot so every game looked like it was played on Mars.

’82 was all about Brazil: Zico, Socrates, Eder, Falcao et al. Zico’s bicycle kick was something I practiced and practised and something I longed to do in a game. Watching that Brazil side play, and for me, Socrates’ slide rule passing filled me to bursting with excitement.

That side were beaten by Italy and Paolo Rossi, who had just returned from a ban for match fixing (?) and who went on to score six goals and win the Golden Boot.

’86 was all about Maradona, of course. And then there was Platini …

’98, for me, was Brazil’s Dunga, and France’s Zidane. I haven’t forgotten Ronaldo …

I’m tailing off as the weight of my Chinese meal begins to take effect and my interest wains…

No doubt there are other genuine WC legends that I’ve missed, some of whom may have played post ’98 and who may be able to excite the senses in the way my picks did for me.

Who are yours, and why?