Monday, August 28, 2017

Soccer Memories-Part 35 (Those Magical European Nights (European competitions B C. (Before the Champions League))

It is almost impossible for any soccer fan born in the past two decades to envision European Football Competitions predating the Champions League.
Today’s fan has been accustomed to a steady diet of the Top teams on the continent battling it out week in and week out for virtually the entire year.
The Champions League, in its current format, is an unstoppable money-spinning machine.
Despite its Olympian heights of today, many older fans still bemoan the not too recent past, where European Competition was a bonus to be savored.
They miss the Magical Nights when playing in midweek European matches was a special event that brought with it a special atmosphere and frenzy.
Fans of more modest teams might be nostalgic of the days when their small team was drawn against one of the bigger teams and this gave them the opportunity to witness some of the Legends of the game on their home soil.
Today’s young fan is probably unaware of terms such as the ‘UEFA Cup’, the ‘Fairs Cup’ or much less the ‘Cup Winners Cup’.

Photo From: World Soccer, March 1993
(The Champions Cup, Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup)

In a world before Social Media and Cable Television, these European Competitions would revolutionize the game and change the landscape of Football forever.
To get a full appreciation of this phenomenon one must go back to its early beginnings.
Many have traced the roots of these competitions to the 'Mitropa Cup'. This was a competition that started in the 1920s and featured Central European clubs.
By the 1950s, the World Cup was already established as the Premier Tournament of World Football. However an equivalent Tournament for European clubs was still non-existent.
The main contact between clubs from different Nations was restricted to mostly friendly exhibition matches.
It is difficult to imagine that the spark that gave rise to all of this was due to a simple friendly match between two clubs.
The Friendly match in question was between English club Wolverhampton Wanderers and Hungary’s Honved Budapest (featuring Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Koscis among others) on December 13, 1954, that Wolves 3 to 2.
The English Press hyped the victory by declaring Wolves as the best team in Europe.
This led Former French International and now journalist Gabriel Hanot writing in ‘L’Equipe’ to propose the idea of a European Cup where champions from each country would compete and thus the Champions Cup was created.

Photo From: Coupe Du Monde 1938-La Coupe du Monde Oubliee, Author Victor Sinet
(Gabriel Hanot)

Many teams and players would become legends of the game because of their success in these Continental Competitions in the ensuing decades.
This was also the era where the Television age came to prominence further highlighting the exploits.
Starting the Fall of 1955, the Champions Cup was created, whereby League Champions from the various European Nations faced one another in a knock-out elimination series (home and away).
Real Madrid were the primary beneficiaries of this new Competition and cemented their legendary status (to date) after winning the first five competitions.
Alfredo Di Stefano became a legend of the game primarily because of Real Madrid’s domination, as did others in the team such as Francisco Gento.

Photo From: Miroir du Football , Issue 21, September 1961
(Alfredo Di Stefano)

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 30, July 1991
(Alfredo Di Stefano)

It is worth noting that Chelsea, the English League Champions in 1955, had snubbed the Inaugural Champions Cup due to the urgings of the English FA.
Manchester United would ignore this request and create their own legend in this new competition.
At first, they faced tragedy as Munich Air Disaster on February 6, 1958, took the lives of many players (as the team was returning from a Champions Cup match in Belgrade).
An undeterred Manchester United, under the guidance of Matt Busby, and Bobby Charlton (one of the survivors) would claw their way back and themselves earned their iconic status by becoming the First English club to win the Champions Cup in 1968 (ten years after the Munich Tragedy).

Photo From: World Soccer, May 1997
(Nobby Stiles, May 29, 1968, Champions Cup, Manchester United 4-Benfica 1)

Benfica put Portuguese Football on the map for its successes and also helped to introduce Eusebio to the continental public.
Dynasties were built on the strength of success in Europe.

Photo from: World  Soccer, August 1963
(Eusebio on the cover of World Soccer Magazine with Giovanni Trapattoni, May 22, 1963, Champions Cup, AC Milan 2-Benfica 1)

Internazionale Milano owes its status to its victories (despite the negative Catenaccio) in the Champions Cup of 1964 and 1965. This is how they became ‘Grande Inter’.
Giacinto Facchetti and many others such as their Spanish star Luis Suarez’s memories are tied to these victories.

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo, April 120-27, 1983
(Internazionale Milano squad 1964/65)

These victories even made Legends of Managers such as Inter Manager Helenio Herrera and his counter part at AC Milan, Nereo Rocco, not to mention Bela Guttmann at Benfica.
Ajax Amsterdam and Bayern Munich’s successes in the 70s also marked their era in history.

Photo From: Azzurri, Storia della Nazionale di calcio tre volte campioni del Mondo, 1910-1983
(1960s AC Milan Manager Nereo Rocco and Internazionale’s Helenio Herrera)

Ajax’s Johann Cruyff was launched on the International scene due to Ajax’s victories.
These European Competitions also enabled the entire continent to witness the birth of new tactical movements.
In terms of Inter’s Catenaccio it was negative, but in the case of Ajax and Bayern Munich it was ‘Total Football’ that captivated the continent in a positive way to signal a rebirth.

Photo From: LIBRO DEL FUTBOL, Fasciculo 12, 1974
(Johann Cruyff)

Photo From: (Magazine Source unknown) / Contribution From a blog viewer
(Ajax Amsterdam squad, Top, left to right: Barry Hulshoff, Heinz Stuy, Wim Suurbier, Gerrie Muhren, Dick van Dijk,  , Bottom, left to right: Piet Keizer, Sjaak Swart, Nico Rijnders, Velibor Vasovic, Johann Cruyff, Johann Neeskens , June 2, 1971, Champions Cup, Ajax Amsterdam 2-Panathinaikos 0)

Photo From: World Soccer, April 1995
(May 17, 1974, Champions Cup, Bayern Munich 4-Atletico Madrid 0)

Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan is also not only remembered for its victories but for signaling a new tactical innovation in introducing a pressing attacking style that is remembered to this day.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 26, March 1991
(Arrigo Sacchi)

After a few years it was obvious that these competitions were just too attractive (and lucrative) to be just restricted to League Champions.
The ‘Inter-Cities Fairs Cup’ was established in the 1950s as well. This was a competition where clubs were invited from cities holding trade fairs. This morphed into the current ‘UEFA Cup’ at the start of (1971/72) season, whereby the top finishers in their respective Leagues qualified.
Starting 1960, the domestic Cup winners also got their own competition, the ‘Cup Winners Cup’. This competition would always stand out as the weakest of the three, but was a nevertheless an extra source of competition and revenue for clubs.
It was not only the winners that have benefited from these competitions.
Even teams that failed to win trophies lived in the Public’s memory because of these competitions.
French club Stade de Reims is remembered for the early days of this competition in the 50s, when they reached the Final twice (both times losing to Real Madrid).
Another French Club Saint Etienne won the hearts of the French through its European Cup Adventures during the period of 1974-1977.
Another less fashionable French Club Bastia is remembered for its UEFA Cup adventure during the (1977/78) season where they reached the Final (losing to PSV Eindhoven).
Many fans remember Scottish side Dundee United’s UEFA Cup adventure of 1987 where they reached the Final by eliminating the likes of Barcelona and Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 29, May 1978
(Bastia squad, 1977/78)

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo, Issue 640 (Number 18), April 29-May 5, 1987
(Dundee United squad, 1986/87)

Hungarian side Videoton had its moment of glory by reaching the Final of the 1985 UEFA Cup succumbing only to Real Madrid.
Swedish club Malmo is remembered for reaching the Champions Cup Final in 1979.
In the not too distant past, small Spanish club Alaves reached the UEFA Cup final in 2001.
The European Competitions coincided with the advent of France Football’s ‘Ballon d’Or’ award and many players owed their award due to their performances in Europe. These include Alfredo Di Stefano, George Best, Gianni Rivera, Johann Cruyff, Oleg Blokhin and Allan Simonsen just to name a few.
Lesser-known players are also remembered for their exploits in Europe. In France, Paris St. Germain’s Antoine Kombouare is largely remembered for his last minute header that eliminated Real Madrid from the UEFA Cup in 1993.
1970s Liverpool player David Fairclough is remembered as a super-sub after many efficient match winning appearances after coming on as a substitute during Liverpool’s European matches in the 1970s.
The Algerian Rabah Madjer will always be remembered for his back heel goal for Porto against Bayern Munich in 1987.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 2450, March 23, 1993
(Antoine Kombouare after scoring, March 18, 1993, UEFA Cup, Paris Saint-Germain 4-Real Madrid 1)

Photo From: Onze, Issue 138, June 1987
(Rabah Madjer scoring with a backheel, May 27, 1987, Champions Cup, Porto 2-Bayern Munich 1)

In time, the Competitions would also expose some of the rising African talent to the continent. Players such as Salif Keita, Abedi Pele and George Weah would be introduced to a larger audience via their performances in European competitions.
The early Home and away format of the competition made the matches more exciting as teams would go all out to achieve results. This also led to remarkable comeback stories of overturning deficits.
Many remember small French club FC Metz overturning a (2-4) deficit to eliminate the mighty Barcelona at Camp Nou in 1984.

Photo From: Onze, Hors serie 23, 1985
(Metz’s Toni Kurbos, who scored a hat trick in this match vs. Barcelona, October 3, 1984, Cup Winners Cup, Barcelona 1-Metz 4)

In 1996, a struggling Bordeaux side eliminated AC Milan (3-0), overturning a (0-2) deficit. This match-up launched Zinedine Zidane on the European stage.
West German Club Bayer Leverkusen overcame a (0-3) deficit against Spanish club RCD Espanol to level the match (3-0) and win on a penalty kick shoot-out in the Second Leg Final of the 1988 UEFA Cup.
English club Queens Park Rangers had appeared to have all but settled the tie after defeating Yugoslavia’s Partizan Belgrade (6-2) in the (1984/85) UEFA Cup, but Partizan stormed back to win (4-0) in the return leg and qualify with the away goals rule.
Real Madrid in the 1980s made a specialty of overturning seemingly lost deficits to further highlight the importance of a home crowd atmosphere to galvanize teams.
In just a few years, the European Competitions had been so successful, that many players would pick their future destinations based upon the prospect of playing in Europe for the upcoming season. Playing under the ‘lights’ in Europe in midweek had become an ambition that players strived for.
European Qualification was in some cases the minimum objective set by the owners when hiring Managers. Many Managers were sacked for “failing to qualify for Europe.”
The barometer to measure a team’s true worth would be based upon their success in Europe.
This was also extended to certain players. Some players would be criticized for being good at the domestic club level, but ‘too fragile’ for the tough away European battles in far off places.
The majority of European matches were battles (physically and mentally). Certain atmospheres at away matches would freeze certain teams and players.
These early decades were during the height of the ‘Cold war’ and European encounters between East and West were at times used as Propaganda tools to incite the fans.
In fact at times these were the only opportunities that some teams from East and West would actually have any contact.
This was not only important in a cultural sense, but the teams would be exposed to foreign styles of play that would have bearing on the evolution of tactics.
In those days, even the best Western European teams could never take for granted any tie in Eastern Europe.
There were trepidations about visits to Belgrade to face Red Star or Sofia to face CSKA, not to mention a trip to Kiev to take on Dinamo Kiev.
It was not just the difficult opponents that the top teams took no delight from, but it was also trips to unfancied venues such as small stadiums in Cyprus and Luxembourg.
After retirement, Michel Platini would often lament the then current format of the Champions League by pointing out that someone of his caliber had to play in places like Luxembourg and Malta, but that was no longer the case and unfair to smaller nations.
It is hard to imagine Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo having ever played in venues in Cyprus or Faroe Islands.
The European Competitions also exposed England’s growing fan violence onto the rest of the continent. The problems started in the 70s with and ended with the Tragedy of Heysel in 1985. This led to the ban of English Teams for five years.
These five years were detrimental for English teams as not only were they punished financially, but also were cut off from exposure to other playing styles/Football cultures, etc.
It would take some time for some of the English teams to have an impact in Europe.
Success in the Champions Cup was also a motivator in the rise of ambitions Club Presidents. Olympique Marseille’s Bernard Tapie took over Marseille with the intent of winning the Champions Cup. He would call it the Cup with ‘Big Ears’. Vast sums of money on players would be spent to achieve this goal and many memorable ‘European Nights’ would follow.
By the mid-to-late 1980s many questions were already being raised about the uncertain nature of the competitions due to its home and away elimination format.
Some of the best teams could potentially be eliminated after only one round.
Given the sums invested many clubs felt more revenue could be generated with more matches.
The first step in ‘protecting’ the bigger clubs was seeding the top teams in the first round of the (1989/90) edition of the Champions Cup.
However, this was not enough to quench the ambitions of the bigger clubs who were eyeing an even more financially satisfying system.
AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi was one of the vocal proponents of a Champions Cup to be played in a League format.
The idea would take hold and eventually give rise to a mini-League format for the (1991/92) edition of the Champions Cup.
This consisted of two early rounds (knockout home and away series) just like before. Afterwards the surviving eight teams would be placed in two groups and would play one another in a round robin format. This guaranteed an extra three home matches and extra revenue. Afterwards only the winners of these Groups would play one another in the Final.
In the next season (1992/93), the competition would be officially named the ‘Champions League’ with its won logo and ultimately even its pre-match music.

Photo From: World Soccer, March 1993
(The Champions League Logo, 1992/93)

The next edition (1993/94) would feature one more twist. The Group winners  would face the opposing Group’s runner-ups for an extra semifinal round.
The next season (1994/95), the competition would be reformatted. The two first rounds would be eliminated and the competition would start with Group phases.
After a preliminary round, the 16 teams would be placed in four groups of four teams, followed by the springtime quarterfinals and onwards.
This system stayed in place until the (1997/98) season where a new modification was put in place that essentially was the biggest break from tradition. Starting that edition, League Runner-ups were also now invited to the Champions League.
This new expanded Champions League would now consist of a first round Group phase of six groups of four with the top teams and two of the best runner-ups qualifying.
In 1999, Manchester United became the first League runner-up from a previous season to triumph in the Champions League.
In that Fall of 1999, the Champions League was once again reformatted and resembled closer to what the early proponents had envisioned.
From that season (1999/2000) not only the runner-ups were invited but even third and fourth place finishers (the number of participants varied from Nation to Nation according to different factors).
This necessitated two Group phases (First phase of 8 groups and the second phase of 4 groups) followed by the quarterfinals, Semis and the Final.
The two teams that reached the Final would have played 17 matches during the season. This was virtually half of a regular domestic League campaign.
Meanwhile the gradual expansions had weakened the two other Competitions. The ‘Cup Winners Cup’ was altogether scrapped in 1999. The ‘UEFA Cup’ lingered on but it was not as highly rated, as before as now the Champions League was the most enticing prospect of any club.
This Champions League was now restricted to Europe’s elite and teams from ‘smaller’ nations were locked out.
This new format of the Champions League stayed in place until 2003. As teams felt two group phases was overkill and detrimental to the physical fitness of the players. It was decided to scrap the second Group phase, to be replaced with an extra round of Home and Away series for the Final 16.
This system has largely remained in place since and appears to be the long-term ‘permanent’ format.
At the same time the weakening UEFA Cup, tried to rebrand itself by calling itself the ‘Europa League’ in 2008. However, it was viewed as just that, a name change, the quality was still draining and dwarfed by the Champions League.
The ‘Europa League’ has slowly devolved into a state of insignificance. Whereas, decades ago a Manchester United-Ajax matchup would have been enticing, by this year (2017) it was viewed with disinterest.
The Champions League may have strengthened the top leagues, however, it has had a negative effect on some of the other mid-level Leagues.
The ‘Bosman Ruling’ in 1996 strengthened the Top teams competing in the Champions League and they started buying in larger quantities further weakening these mid-level Leagues.

Photo From: Goal, Issue 16, January 1997
(Jean-Marc Bosman)

Once upon a time, Anderlecht, Celtic Glasgow, Ajax and Benfica could not only compete with the teams from the top leagues but could actually from time to time win trophies on the continental level.
This has become nearly impossible in the Champions League of the post-Bosman era.
Once teams like Ajax could build teams and nurture players until they were ready to be sold once they were the finished article.
But nowadays, the young prospects get largely bypassed at this level as the top teams are buying them at a younger age.
A team like PSV Eindhoven could buy efficiently over a number of years and build a team good enough to win the Champions Cup (1988).

Photo From: Mondial, new series, Issue 106, January 1989
(PSV Eindhoven squad, Top, left to right: Hans van Breukelen, Wim Kieft, Hans Gillhaus, Jan Heintze, Ivan Nielsen, Edward Linskens,  Soren Lerby, Ronald Koeman, Gerald Vanenburg, Berry van Aerle, Eric Gerets  , May 25, 1988, Champions Cup, PSV Eindhoven 0-Benfica 0)

Ajax’s victory in the 1995 Champions League was a rare event for its day, but today it would be virtually impossible to build a relatively homegrown team to triumph in Europe.
Similarly, a modest team like Nottingham Forest would not be able to build a team and win two Champions Cup as it once did, nor the likes of Aston Villa (1982 Champions Cup), Aberdeen (Cup Winners Cup 1983) and East Germany’s Magdeburg (Cup Winners Cup 1974).

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 77, June 1995
(May 24, 1995, Champions League, Ajax Amsterdam 1-AC Milan 0)

There was a time that ‘Cup Winners Cup’ and the ‘UEFA Cup’ were seen as beneficial tournaments. Not only in generating revenue, but at times they acted as a stepping stone for teams to later compete in the Champions Cup.
Liverpool and Borussia Moenchengladbach had their dry runs in the early to mid 1970s in the UEFA Cup before facing one another in the 1977 Final of the Champions Cup.
Former 1980s Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson actually felt that facing teams in the UEFA Cup was sometimes more difficult as the teams in the UEFA Cup were on their growing phase and stronger and by the time they reached the Champions Cup, they were already on the downward scale.
Barcelona and Sampdoria faced one another in the 1989 Final of the Cup Winners Cup before facing each other in the Final of the Champions Cup in 1992.
Manchester United built up on its 1991 Cup Winners Cup success to claw its way to the European elite.
The Champions Cup and now the Champions League have impacted the game like no other club competition in history.
The strength of the competition has created a small elite of clubs that can afford to spend vast sums of money to build super teams to have a tilt at this prestigious award.
Surprises are far and few in between as the same teams have any realistic chance of winning. Every few seasons, a team outside of this elite confounds the critics and does surprisingly well (ex. Porto, Monaco 2004, PSV Eindhoven 2005), however, at the offseason all their precious assets are sold off to the highest bidders and they are back to square one and back to rebuilding.
Much has changed in this competition in sixty years. New generations of fans have grown up watching men enter the field holding a child’s hand and listening to the Champions League Music prior to kickoffs.
They have witnessed Football at the top level involving the best of the best.
However, these fans perhaps have never experienced the frenzied atmospheres of the European Nights of the not too distant past.
Experiencing exciting overturning deficits are much rare nowadays as the bulk of the competition takes place in the Group phase.
Barcelona’s ‘Remontada’ against Paris St. Germain this past season was an anomaly.
Fans do not get to wait in anticipation for the month of March when the Euro competitions would resume at the Quarterfinal phase.
These days, European Competition starts a month sooner due to fixture congestion.
In another break with Tradition, the Final (since 2010) has been switched from the midweek to Saturday to accommodate younger fans.
While, it is natural to be nostalgic of the Football of one’s youth, nevertheless, one must accept that the game evolves through the decades and perhaps today’s younger fans in two decades will look back at these days as ‘the best era ever.’

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Soccernostalgia Podcast-Episode 1 (part 2)

The second part of the podcast interview with  Dean Lockyer, the author of

This is part two of a three part interview, where we discuss the stories surrounding the 1930 World Cup.

Photo From: Les Bleus, Le livre official de l'equipe de France, Author: Dominique Grimault, 1997
(1930 France, Romania, Belgium squads on the ‘Conte Verde’ on their way to Uruguay)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

New Addition: Soccernostalgia Podcast-Episode 1 (part 1)

The very first podcast of the blog. I interview Dean Lockyer, the author of

This is part one of a three part interview, where we discuss the stories surrounding the 1930 World Cup.

Photo From: Mondial, New Series, Hors Serie 14, 1982, La Glorieuse Epopee De la Coupe Du Monde 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Once Upon a Time…-Part 5 (Marco Tardelli: The Scream of the ‘Schizzo’)

One of the most indelible images of the 1982 World Cup and in fact of Post-War Italian Football is the sight of Marco Tardelli’s screaming celebration following his goal vs. West Germany in the Final in Madrid.
Perhaps no player exemplified Giovanni Trapattoni’s ethos of grit, hard work and rugged determination than his able lieutenant on the field and eventually by his side as Assistant Manager.

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 36 Suppplement, November-December 2000
(Marco Tardelli’s scream after scoring, July 11, 1982, World Cup, Italy 3-West Germany 1)

Tardelli would go on to earn many titles, as well as nicknames such as ‘Schizzo’ and ‘Coyote’ along the way. As a player He would have a Jeckyl and Hyde personality. He would be just as feared for his defensive individual marking (sometimes to the limits of legality) as he was admired for his organizational play in midfield.
His story begins in Northern Tuscany, where he was born on September 24, 1954, at a village called Capanne in Careggine, in the province of Luca.
He grew up with three brothers and was football mad from a young age.
As a fiftteen-year old, he recalled watching the famous Italy-West Germany semifinal of 1970 and being captivated and overcome by all the emotion of it.
After that he knew that he wanted to become a Footballer.
Little did he know that he would also mark history against the same opponent in 12 years time.
But before that he had to begin his Footballing journey.
As a young player he was a good runner, which would serve him well in the future in midfield. His Idol around this time was Luigi Riva and was inspired to emulate him.
At school, he established himself on the Left Wing and was obsessed with dribbling and attacking the opposition goal.
However, at the age of 17 was asked by his Manager to play in defense and he could not refuse.
He was still very slim in his teens and as a result he was discarded by the likes of AC Milan, Bologna and Fiorentina.
Pisa, then at Serie C, would take a gamble on the 18 year-old and acquired him for Seventy Thousand Lire.
He would play two seasons at Pisa (1972/73 and 1973/74). He would play in 41 matches and score 4 goals along the way. In his first season he only played eight matches and scored two goals. He established himself in the second season and played 33 matches (and scored two goals.).

His strong running caught the attention of Serie B’s Como and he made the jump to the Division above in the summer of 1974 at the age of 20 at the behest of Technical Director Giancarlo Beltrami.
He would gain the trust of Pippo Marchioro, his Manager at Como, who would have a strong influence on him as a player.

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 36 Suppplement, November-December 2000
(Marco Tardelli at Como, 1974/75)

He would consider Marchioro, as a second father. As soon he felt Tardelli was homesick, Marchioro would put him on a train and send him home so that he would recharge and be ready.
He repaid him with solid performances in his solitary season there and made 36 appearances and scored two goals.
Due to his strong running, he earned his nickname of ‘Schizzo’ there and his success at Como, paved the way for him to bigger and better things.
Interest for the youngster was growing from the Serie A’s top clubs.
Fiorentina showed interest, but it was believed that he would be on his way to Internazionale Milano. In fact Inter President Ivanoe Fraizzoli had arranged a deal worth 700 Million Lire (800 Million in some sources) and was even photographed with the player.
However, Juventus Director Giampiero Boniperti wanted him at all cost and acquired him under the nose of Inter for 950 Million Lire.
His first Manager at Juventus, Carlo Parola, would deploy him as a defender. After some early difficulty he established himself in the squad and managed to play in 26 matches (and score two goals). He scored his first goal in the Serie A on December 14, 1975 against Inter, the team he had almost joined.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 5, May 1976
(Marco Tardelli, Juventus 1975/76)

Juventus did not manage to win the Scudetto that season, as their neighbors Torino were victorious.
Tardelli did enough to catch the eye of the National team selectors and earned his first cap in a friendly vs. Portugal on April 7, 1976 in Turin (playing in defense in a 3-1 win).
He would go on to become a fundamental part of the National Team into the next decade.
At the time, Enzo Bearzot was the Manager of the National Team with Fulvio Bernardini acting as Technical Director.

Photo From: La Nazionale Italiana, 1978
(Tardelli  in his International debut, He is standing, the third from the left, Italy squad, April 7, 1976, Italy 3-Portugal 1)

From the Fall of 1977, Bearzot would become the sole selector and Tardelli would remain one of his most loyal players.
An important event occurred in that summer of 1976 that would have profound effects on Tardelli’s career.
A then-young Manager named Giovanni Trapattoni was appointed to lead the Bianconeri.
Trapattoni would change Tardelli’s position by placing him in midfield. It would be there that his qualities would shine through.
Trapattoni would entrust him in a pivotal position and make him Juventus’ enforcer in midfield. His tireless running would enable him not only to mark out opponents with ruthless efficiency but also be active in creating chances and joining in the attack. He was the link between the defense and the attack.

Photo From: Azzurri, Storia della Nazionale di calcio tre volte campioni del Mondo, 1910-1983
(Marco Tardelli, November 17, 1976, World Cup Qualifier, Italy 2-England 0)

He would be part of a formidable midfield that season along with Beppe Furino, Franco Causio and Romeo Benetti.
Juventus were neck to neck with Torino that season (1976/77) and in the end triumphed with 51 points to 50 (out of a possible 60).
Tardelli would score four goals in that successful and career changing season.
Juventus would also go on and triumph in the UEFA Cup by defeating Spain’s Athletic Bilbao.

Photo From: Mondial, Old Series, Issue 5, June 1977
(Marco Tardelli, May 4, 1977, UEFA Cup, Juventus 1-Athletic Bilbao 0)

This was Juventus’ first ever trophy on the European Stage.
Tardelli and Juventus were on the verge of writing some of the best pages of the club’s History.
By now he was also a fixture in Bearzot’s National Team and with virtually all of his Juventus teammates helped Italy qualify for the 1978 World Cup.
The following season (1977/78), Juventus and Tardelli would once again be victorious in the Serie A by losing only once during the season.
Tardelli played his part in the triumph and supplied four goals from midfield.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 27, March 1978
(Marco Tardelli, Juventus 1977/78)

Photo From: I Calciatori 1977/78
(Marco Tardelli, Juventus 1977/78)

Juventus would fail in their bid to win the Champions Cup and would be eliminated by Club Brugge in the Semifinals.
He would also have a memorable season with the National Team.
His importance to the National was none more apparent than in Italy’s World Cup qualifier vs. England at Wembley on November 25, 1977.

Photo From: World Soccer, December 1977
(Marco Tardelli and Trevor Brooking , November 16, 1977, World Cup Qualifier, England 2-Italy 0))

After 25 minutes into the match, Bearzot relieved Renato Zaccarelli from man-marking England’s most dangerous player Kevin Keegan. He instead decided to assign Tardelli to mark Keegan.
Tardelli would waste no time in making his presence felt and showed his ruthless side by elbowing Keegan. He would be a thorn in the side of Keegan during the entire night. This would not be the last time that Tardelli would be assigned to guard the most dangerous weapon of the opposition (nor the last time with Keegan for that matter…)
This match showed both the positive and negative sides of Tardelli, but it was clear as far as Bearzot was concerned he was indispensable as he could perform many different tasks and play in many positions in an efficient manner.

Photo From: Panini, World Cup, 1978
(Marco Tardelli)

Just like Trapattoni, Bearzot could count upon him and expect maximum efficiency.
That summer of 1978, Tardelli participated in his first ever World Cup with Italy in Argentina.
Juventus were virtually selected en bloc as in all Tardelli and eight of his teammates made the Finals squad. These included goalkeeper and Captain Dino Zoff, young emerging defender Antonio Cabrini, Gaetano Scirea, Claudio Gentile, Antonello Cucureddu, Romeo Benetti, Franco Causio and Roberto Bettega.
From the opening match, Tardelli would be visible, as he would be tasked with marking France’s Michel Platini, a future teammate at Juventus.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 30, June 1978
(Marco Tardelli, June 10, 1978, World Cup, Argentina 0-Italy 1)

Photo From: Onze, Issue 30, June 1978
(Marco Tardelli marking Michel Platini, June 2, 1978, World Cup, Italy 2-France 1)

Italy would have a positive campaign and would finish fourth.
Upon returning from Argentina and after two complete seasons, perhaps it was inevitable that Juventus and Tardelli would need a period to decompress.
The post World Cup season (1978/79) was disappointing by Juventus’ standards and the team finished Third in the Serie A, behind Champions AC Milan and Perugia.
A first round exit in the Champions Cup vs. Scottish side Rangers Glasgow only confirmed their difficulties that season.

Photo From: Calciatori, edis-78-79
(Marco Tardelli, Juventus 1978/79)

Juverntus’ only consolation was in winning the Coppa Italia (Tardelli’s first) by defeating Palermo (2-1) in the Final.
Tardelli would contribute his average of four goals in the season.
He would also manage to score his first goals for the National team that season. He scored vs. Spain in a friendly in December 1978 (1-2 loss) and also vs. Holland (3-0) in another friendly in February 1979.
At the end of that season on June 25th, 1979, Tardelli was selected as part of a FIFA World Stars side to play Argentina at Buenos Aires for the one year Anniversary of Argentina’s World Cup win.

Photo From: World Soccer, August 1979
(World XI squad selected for the match commemorating the one year anniversary of Argentina’s triumph, June 25, 1979, Argenntina 1-FIFA World Stars 2, Top, left to right: Delgado (doctor), Manfred Kaltz, Marco Tardelli, Juan Manuel Asensi,Bruno Pezzey, Friedrich Koncilia, Antonio Cabrini, Wolff (Physio), Middle, left to right: Vantaggiato (staff), Zbigniew Boniek, Luigi Peronace (Manager), Rudi Krol, Enzo Bearzot (Manager), Michel Platini, Pereda (Coach), Bottom, left to right: Franco Causio, Paolo Rossi, Simon Tahamata)

His National Team Manager Enzo Bearzot had been chosen as the Manager of the FIFA team and he naturally called upon one of his most trusted players.
Despite the friendly and relatively non-competitive nature of this match, Tardelli remained competitive as ever and played the match with the intensity of a World Cup Final. He was tasked with marking Argentina’s new sensation Diego Maradona. He once again showed the negative aspects of his game by taking to the role with the utmost seriousness. He shadowed and constantly fouled Maradona. He would be booked and eventually sent off in the 76th minute after repeated brutality against Maradona.

Photo From: EL GRAFICO NÂș3116 (June 26, 1979)
(Marco Tardelli and Diego Maradona, June 25, 1979, Argentina 1-FIFA World Stars 2)

The following season (1979/80) would be another difficult season for Tardelli and Juventus.
Juventus would finish runner-up behind Internazionale Milano.
Tardelli would be out for much of the season and would only make 18 appearances due to injury. Despite this, he did manage to score his customary four goals per season.
Juventus reached the semifinals of the Cup Winners Cup but were eliminated by Arsenal.
Meanwhile, at the International Level, Italy had been designated as the hosts of the 1980 Euros. They had been playing in friendlies for about two years as part of their preparation, but their results had been unimpressive. They suffered a blow prior to the Tournament, when Italy striker Paolo Rossi was suspended as a result of the ‘Totonero’ Match fixing scandal.
Italy struggled in the absence of Rossi during these Euros.
Tardelli renewed his rivalry with Keegan by marking him in the match vs. England in these Euros. He also scored Italy’s winner in this match, though it was to no avail as Italy were eliminated in the First Round at the expense of surprise team Belgium.

Photo From: France Football, Issue 1976, February 21, 1984
(Kevin Keegan and Marco Tardelli, June 15, 1980, European Championship, Italy 1-England 0)

Photo From: Azzurri, Storia della Nazionale di calcio tre volte campioni del Mondo, 1910-1983
(Marco Tardelli’s goal, June 15, 1980, UEFA European Championships, Italy 1-England 0)

The following season (1980/81) would mark the return to prominence of Trappatoni’s Juventus with an ever impressive Tardelli.
Juventus would reclaim the Scudetto after three years (just edging out AS Roma) and Tardelli would go on to score a career high of seven goals in the season.

(Marco Tardelli and Giovanni Trappatoni, 1980/81)

Internationally the season started well, as Italy posted four straight victories in its World Cup qualifying Group with wins over Yugoslavia, Denmark, Greece and Yugoslavia.
The wins placed Italy in an ideal position to qualify from the Group.
The following season (1981/82) would be the most memorable of his career.
In the Serie A, Juventus repeated as Serie A Champions. The title was secured with a win in the very last match of the season that kept them one point ahead of Fiorentina (Tardelli would score three goals in the campaign).
However, the greatest prize of all lay jut ahead. Internationally, Italy had struggled all season and had been largely unimpressive in obtaining World Cup qualification after a bright start to the qualifiers.

Photo From: Panini, World Cup, 1982
(Marco Tardelli)

Their friendlies prior to the World Cup had also been below par. In fact, the first round of the World Cup had also been disappointing. Italy had qualified to the second round after three straight ties and had only qualified at the expense of Cameroon only on goal difference.
The Italian Media naturally criticized the team with some commentary that the players deemed unfair and unjustified. The Team voted for a Press Blackout for the remainder of the Tournament.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 31, October 1982
(Marco Tardelli during the 1982 World Cup)

This was the turning point and afterwards the Team found a new lease on life.
It was during the Tournament, that Bearzot also gave Tardelli the nickname of ‘Coyote’ because he could not go to sleep at night.
Tardelli would spark Italy’s renewal by scoring Italy’s first goal in the second Round Group phase match vs. Argentina en route to a (2-1) win.

Photo From: Azzurri, Storia della Nazionale di calcio tre volte campioni del Mondo, 1910-1983
(Marco Tardelli scoring against Argentina, June 29, 1982, World Cup, Italy 2-Argentina 1)

This was followed by a memorable encounter and win over the favorites Brazil (3-2).
Italy would reach the Final by defeating Poland (2-0) in the semifinals to face West Germany.
Italy would win in the Final vs. the West Germans (3-1) to claim their first Post-War World Cup.

Photo From: Spain '82, The Winning of the World Cup, Authors Phil Soar and Richard Widdows
(Marco Tardelli, July 11, 1982, World Cup, Italy 3-West Germany 1)

It is Tardelli’s scream after scoring Italy’s second goal that will live in the memories as the most memorable and talked out event of the match.
In the 69th minute (Italy already 1-0 up), after a series of passes, Tardelli received the ball just outside of the box and from a distance took a shot with his left foot to Harald Schumacher’s lower left corner.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 79, July 1982
(Marco Tardelli’s scoring, July 11, 1982, World Cup, Italy 3-West Germany 1)

Afterwards, Tardelli celebrated by running and screaming with rage with his fists clenched. Many years later Tardelli would say: "After I saw my whole life pass by, I felt the same feeling that, It is said, it is when you are about to die. The joy of scoring in a World Cup finals was immense, something I dreamed of as a child, and my exultation was a kind of liberation for accomplishing that dream. I was born with that cry inside me, and that was the exact moment she came out of”.

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 36 Suppplement, November-December 2000
(Marco Tardelli with the World Cup trophy, July 11, 1982, World Cup, Italy 3-West Germany 1)

This goal and celebration is often voted amongst the best World Cup goals in various polls.
The World Cup also changed observers’ perception of Tardelli. Until then, Tardelli had the reputation of a tough man-marker of the adversary, however, the World Cup showed that he was the complete player, a tireless runner who could also be creative if given the freedom.
He believed that he had not changed; he just had ben given the opportunity to do something other than individual marking. He was able to show his worth and display that he could actually be creative and not just be restricted to defensive duties.
Upon his return, the returning Hero caused some controversy by refusing to sign his new Juventus contract along with Claudio Gentile and Beppe Furino.
Juventus had just signed France’s Michel Platini and Poland’s Zbigniew Boniek to big contracts.
The trio felt that they should be paid along the same terms.
In fact it was said Tardelli had been opposed to Platini’s signing as he felt the Irishman Liam Brady (who had to make way for Platini) had been mistreated.
He also indicated that he was a World Champion and the Italians should not be playing second fiddle to the foreign signings.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 84, December 1982
(Marco Tardelli)

After a difficult start to the season (1982/83), Juventus somewhat regained form after the foreign players had been integrated. However, they had to be satisfied with a runner-up position as AS Roma won the Scudetto.
Tardelli had contributed five goals in the campaign.
Juventus also failed in its quest to win the Champions Cup as they lost to West Germany’s SV Hamburg in the Final.
Tardelli and Juventus’ consolation remained the Coppa Italia that they won at the expense of Hellas Verona (Tardelli’s second Coppa Italia).
In an interview during the season, he indicated that when he retired he would not stay in the game, as he did not like that milieu. As long as he was still playing he would support it but not afterwards. He wanted to try something else and perhaps start a business.
The following season (1983/84) despite not scoring a single goal in the season for the first time, Tardelli had nevertheless an excellent campaign, as Juventus triumphed in the League (Tardelli’s fifth overall and last).
Juventus also triumphed in the Cup Winners Cup by defeating Portugal’s Porto.
Tardelli therefore won his second European Cup after winning the 1977 UEFA Cup.
That year of 1984 would the beginning of the end of his Juventus adventure.
He had created some controversy by once again criticizing foreign players. He felt they were overpaid in comparison to Italian players.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 114, June 1985
(Diego Maradona and Marco Tardelli, May 5, 1985, Napoli 0-Juventus 0)

This further increased his rift with Platini.
The season (1984/85) he would also have problems with his Manager Giovanni Trapattoni. In April 1985, he declared that he had problems with someone important in the team (assumed to be Trappatoni) and that he did not know if the issue could be resolved.
That season Juventus would struggle in the League and finish sixth.

Photo From: France Football, April 9, 1985
(Juventus players playing pool, left to right: Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli, Antonio Cabrini, Gaetano Scirea and Michel Platini)

At the end of that season, Juventus reached its goal of winning the much-coveted Champions Cup by defeating Liverpool (1-0).
However, the win was tarnished due to the Heysel disaster that claimed the lives of 39 fans (of mostly Juventus).
He would later publicly express shame for having played that match. He said that the players had not known the extent of the Tragedy at the time and felt they could not pull out after it had been decided to play. He had only learned the extent of the tragedy pn the following day.
This would be his last match with Juventus after a decade of mostly glory and trophies.
His problems with Trapattoni as well as his advancing age had convinced the Juventus hierarchy that changes were needed.
Tardelli, along with Paolo Rossi and Zbigniew Boniek were transferred out to be replaced with younger talent.
Tardelli was transferred to Internazionale Milano (with Aldo Serena going in the opposite direction on loan as part of the deal).
His first season at Inter (1985/86) was marred by a hand injury and he missed many months. He would make 19 appearances during the season. He would have two managers that season. He started the season with Ilario Castagner, who was then replaced with Mario Corso.

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 36 Suppplement, November-December 2000
(Marco Tardelli at Inter)

Inter finished sixth in the season. They did reach the semifinals of the UEFA Cup but were eliminated by Real Madrid.
Tardelli would be perceived as one of the scapegoats of Inter’s season.
His personal life also suffered as he separated from his wife during the season.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 118, October 1985
(Marco Tardelli at Inter)

His adventure with the Azzurri was also slowly coming to an end. He played his last match for Italy on September 25, 1985 in a friendly vs. Norway (1-2) at Lecce.  It would be his 81st and Final cap (scoring 6 goals for the National team along the way).
He would make Italy’s squad for the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico, but he did not play a single minute in his Third and Final World Cup.

Photo From: Panini, World Cup, 1986
(Marco Tardelli)

It was also the end of the road for Enzo Bearzot and their mutual association ended at that summer of 1986. Tardelli had only known Bearzot as coach in National Team colors.
The following season (1986/87), appeared troublesome for him from the onset as his old boss Giovanni Trappatoni was appointed as Internazionale Milano’s new Manager.
This did not help his cause as his problems from the tail end of his career at Juventus with Trapattoni still lingered.
Tardelli had no significant impact on the Team in another difficult season for him.
During the season, Tardelli had verbally made an agreement with Inter President Ernesto Pellegrini that he would renew his contract at June 1987. Pellegrini had assured him that his salary would remain at the same level and would also have the option to be trained in a future career in management.
However, Pellegrini went back on his word (many feel at the behest of Trappatoni) to force Tardelli out. The terms of the new contract were significantly less than promised. The reason given was that other players in the first team were earning less.
He had no choice but to leave and later felt betrayed when Pellegrini criticized his behavior in a newspaper interview.
In that offseason of 1987, no other Serie A squad came calling as he was seen as an ageing player (32 years old) with somewhat of a bad reputation (given the last episode with Pellegrini and recent past with Trappatoni).
Given his standing, he could not envision a return to the Serie B. It appeared that he might retire until Swiss club St. Gallen made an offer.
His salary would be less than at Inter, but he would have the option to study a course in Management.
At the end of that season (1987/88) in Switzerland, he ended his distinguished playing career.

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 36 Suppplement, November-December 2000
(Marco Tardelli at St Gallen, 1987/88)

He had been ravaged by time and many injuries in his latter years.
At first he worked in the Media and was a pundit for ’La Domenica Sportiva’ during the 1988/89 season.
On September 21st, 1989, he began his coaching career as he was appointed  Italy’s Under-16 National Team Coach.
Less than a year later, on August 1st, 1990, he was elevated to be Cesare Maldini’s Assistant for Italy’s Under-21 squad.
He remained in his post until the summer of 1993, when he left to become the new Como Manager in Serie C1 for the (1993/94) season. He gained promotion to the Serie B and managed Como in the new season (1994/95).

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 36 Suppplement, November-December 2000
(Marco Tardelli celebrating Promotion to Seri B with Como)

Como was relegated that season and Tardelli took the failure very hard. He declared “For the first time in my life I have to lower my head.”
He was appointed as Cesena Manager for the following season (1995/96). He lasted one full season but was ousted early in the following season (1996/97) after the fans turned on him.
In December 1996, he rejoined the National Team program by becoming Cesare Maldini’s Assistant for the senior squad. He would lead the Under-23’s in the Mediterranean Games of 1997 and would by the end of the year be appointed as the Under-21 coach. He would lead the Under-21’s to the European title in Bratislava (on June 4, 2000, by defeating the Czech Republic (2-1)) with a team containing the likes of Pirlo, Gattuso and Baronio.
As the Under-21 boss, he would lament how young Italian players opportunities were restricted by foreign players of the same age.

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 36 Suppplement, November-December 2000
(Marco Tardelli managing the Under-21 and Olympics squad)

It seemed that the under-appreciation of Italian talent at the expense of foreign expensive talent was a running theme from his playing into his Management days.
Following the 2000 Euro title in Slovakia, he led Italy to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Upon his return he was ready for club Management at the highest level. Internazionale Milano President Massimo Moratti had just fired Marcelo Lippi after the very first League match of the (2000/01) season.
Moratti appointed Tardelli as the new Inter Manager on October 7th, 2000.
He was unable to make a positive impression and was dismissed at the end of the season. His lowest point was the (0-6) drubbing at the hands of AC Milan.
He later had a stint at Bari (2002/03) before managing the Egyptian National Team in 2004, and also had a very short time at Arezzo (2005).
He joined Juventus’ board of Directors in 2006 but left after a year in 2007.
In 2008, Giovanni Trappatoni, newly appointed as the new Manager of Republic of Ireland called upon his former charge to become his Assistant.
Time had been a conytributing factor in ending their rift and who better to carry out his plans with than Tardelli.
He would remain Trap’s Assistant until September 2013, when Trappatoni resigned.
This has been his last Management post to date and he can look back upon a successful career topped off by the greatest prize of all, the World Cup.
His career in Management has not been as successful as one might have hoped for, his greatest achievement perhaps has been with the Under-21’s.
As a player his achievements seem unequalled and he was one of the best Italian players of his Generation. He was fortunate to have been led with two Managers at club and International level who exploited his playing ad running abilities to the maximum.
They entrusted him with responsibilities and could expect total devotion and professionalism to the task assigned.
His era would be synonymous with the successes of these two managers Trappatoni and Bearzot

Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 40, April 2001
(Enzo Bearzot)

He is forever linked to the 1982 World Cup and that scream. Another image of him from that World Cup that remains, is the still photograph of him holding a water bottle over his head with his arms raised in triumph.
He was ruthless when needed to be but also useful upfront when the tactical shackles were removed.
During the (1992/93) season, Roberto Baggio’s commitment at Juventus and was being questioned as he appeared to be coasting along and picking his matches. His Manager at Juventus, Trappatoni put Baggio’s performances in perspective by comparing him to Tardelli and said: “Tardelli would bite people’s ankles.”
This was perhaps the greatest compliment given to a player that gave it all for his Manager(s).

Photo From: World Soccer, September 2000
(Marco Tardelli)

Il Libro Azzuro, Author Walter Perosino, 1998
Guerin Sportivo, Issue 521 (Number 1), December 25, 1984-January 8, 1985
Onze-Mondial, Issue 133, February 2000
Mondial, new series, issue 31, October 1982
World Soccer, September 2000
Calcio 2000, Issue 26, January 2000
Calcio 2000, Issue 36 Suppplement, November-December 2000
World Soccer, January 1988

Onze, Issue 84, December 1982