World Cup Memories #3
The following is a true story, and happened in the summer of '82.
I say that because even to this day I still cannot believe what I saw, what the watching world saw, but the referee and other officials quite obviously didn't.
On July 8th 1982, West Germany were to play France in the World Cup Semi-Final. Both teams were very strong and had been fancied to lift the trophy since the competition began. Platini would captain his attacking French side against the likes of Littbarski and Rummenigge of the more defensive and cautious Germans.
1-1 at half-time, the two teams re-appear for the second-half and no-one could have anticipated the events that were about to unfold. In the 70th minute the in-form Platini plays a through ball and Patrick Battiston is away, leaving the turning German defenders in his wake. Harold Schumacher, the German goalkeeper is alert to the danger and rushes off his line towards Battiston - and when I say TOWARDS Battiston, boy do I mean TOWARDS Battiston.
Schumacher forgot that the ball was a small white spherical object, and continued at pace before leaping into the oncoming French Striker. The two collide and fall to the ground. Battiston was unconscious.
The foul itself is possibly the most outrageous 'challenge' I can remember seeing in my life. But possibly more amazing than that was what followed - a goal kick. The ref didn't acknowledge the incident. No free-kick, no booking, no sending off. Schumacher feigned injury after mugging Battiston. Battiston didn't have chance to check if he still had his watch and wallet as he had to be stretchered off.
From that moment on the crowd and watching millions were screaming for a French victory and the match itself is still regarded as a 'classic', despite the horror tackle. 1-1 at full-time, the French took a 3-1 lead during extra-time, only for the Germans to score 2 extra-time goals themselves to force the match into a penalty shoot-out. There was to be no fairytale ending to this match - Platini's men lost the shoot-out - the Germans were in the Final.
My story doesn't end there, however. Oh no. Upon returning to school the following morning to carry on with the usual 20-a-side playground World Cup, you'll get no prizes for guessing which incident was being re-enacted.
Sometimes sportsmen forget what important role models they really are.
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