When the 1990 World Cup was again hosted in Italy, 56 years after the Azzurra’s first title, a lot had changed in the country and the world too. I was about to turn 14 and this was the first World Cup that I was able to sit up and watch a lot of the matches. Infact I think I missed just a few games and every day at school we would discuss the games and the goals. Many European countries were interested in hosting the 14th World Cup. Austria, England, France, Greece, West Germany, Soviet Union, Italy, and Yugoslavia were all interested. However, most of them withdrew their bid before the vote started.
Only Italy and the Soviet Union remained. On the day of the vote on May 19, 1984, in Zurich, it was announced by the FIFA Executive Committee that Italy gained the most votes, a total of 11. Italy would become the 2nd country to host a World Cup for the 2nd time after Mexico. Of the 24 teams participating in Italy 1990, Italy (host country) and Argentina (1986 World Cup winner) automatically qualified. The Republic of Ireland qualified for the first time. Romania qualified for the first time since 1970. This is the last World Cup where only 2 points were awarded to a win. Argentina still had the brilliant Maradona. In addition to Gary Lineker, the top scorer in 1986, England also had Paul Gascoigne, who was on top form.
Germany boasted Franz Beckebauer as their manager and had Lothar Matthäys, Jürgen Klinsmann and Andreas Brehme amongst their ranks. However, despite the great line-ups, the 1990 World Cup had the lowest goal average in history: only 2.21 per game. Led by the charismatic Roger Milla, the contagious Cameroonians started to make history with a 1-0 victory over Argentina in their first match. Then, they beat Romania and qualified first in their group, beating Colombia in the round of 16. The first ever African team to reach the quarter-finals, Cameroon had to say farewell to the dream when England beat them in extra time.
The English made it to the 1990 FIFA World Cup semi-final for the first time since 1966 and have never managed to get as far since. Indeed, in 1990 their chance of winning their second title was real. The English team had outstanding players like Gary Lineker, David Platt, Ian Wright, and veteran goalkeeper Peter Shilton. In addition to Paul Gascoigne, of course. They were eliminated in the semi-finals by Argentina on penalties. Hosts Italy would face Argentina in Naples, a city that idolized Diego Maradona in the second semis, which saw Argentina win on penalties and get through to the final. The final in Rome was a rematch of the previous four years earlier. The winner would match Brazil and Italy in the number of world titles.
Argentina and West Germany. West Germany entered the Final for the 6th time and Argentina for the 4th time. Germany wanted revenge. And it came from Andreas Brehme’s feet. Argentina, however, entered the Final with several players injured and booked. On the 8th of July, in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, the Final was played with an attendance of 69,029. Pedro Monzón had the unfortunate honor of setting the record of being the first player to be sent off in a final. He was sent off due to a foul on German player Jürgen Klinsmann. the only goal of the World Cup final was scored, which was a penalty. The referee awarded West Germany a penalty due to a foul by Roberto Sensini on Rudi Völler. It was German player Andreas Brehme who successfully shot the penalty (85?) as German went on to be crowned champions.
World Cup 1990 Facts
Dates: 8 June – 8 July 1990
1990 FIFA World Cup Final: West Germany – Argentina 1-0
3rd place: Italy – England 2-1
Host cities: 12
Matches played: 52
Top scorer: Salvatore Schillaci (Italy) 6 goals