Matt Wills is back with the end of his Turin story. A promotion for Torino was good, but the cast of Italia 90 winning the 98 World Cup would be better. They can’t, can they?! Part 5 is available here.
Here we are, the final part of my Italia 90 meets France 98 odyssey. To bring you up to date, after getting Torino promoted from Serie B with a smattering of former England stars including Lineker and Shilton, I’m now in charge of England, trying not to humiliate myself with the Italia 90 squad. We crept out of our group which included Germany, Cameroon and Japan, Lineker became the alltime top scorer for England and John Barnes got ruled out for 11 months. These aging heroes knocked out Norway in the second round and we are now paired with Tunisia in the quarterfinals.
With you bang up to date, lets get the world in motion.
A reminder of those other quarter final line ups. Group chums Germany face Nigeria, whilst Brazil and France meet earlier than in real life. Spain vs Italy makes up the 4th slot.
Quarter Final Match 5 – Friday 3rd July 1998 – Tunisia vs England – La Beaujoire.
Three Lions 98 are at the top of the UK pop charts, Vindaloo by Fat Les is in number two and England are in the quarter finals of the World Cup.
Reality Check – England beat Cameroon 3-2 thanks to two Gary Lineker penalties after almost crashing out of a tie described by Bobby Robson as a ‘bye’.
Tunisia are lining up in a 5-3-2 formation. I must admit, I know little about their team, but they edged out Denmark to qualify from their group behind Nigeria and then put Sweden to the sword in the second round. Sellimi plays for France and Boumnijel is in goal for West ham, but that’s about as far as my knowledge goes.
I’m sticking with the tried and trusted Direct – 5-3-2 and keep faith with Trevor Steven on the right of my midfield 3. Age is not catching up with anyone yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
That all lasts for 60 seconds when Ben Hassan steals in behind the defence to slot past Shilton to put Tunisia 1-0 up. However, Trabelsi sees a straight red 2 minutes later and I encourage the squad to use the man advantage and control the play. We come level on 7 minutes through a break from Lineker, squaring for Beardsley to get off the mark at the tournament. On the half hour mark, Gazza swings in a free kick for Platt to volley past the West ham stopper and we go into half time with our tales up.
I can see tired faces and minds at half time, so to lighten the mood I get John Barnes to do his rap from World In Motion. Gazza then offers to sing ‘Fog on The Tyne’ but luckily the bell for the second half rings and we are saved.
The second half is a cagey affair and Tunisia start to mount pressure and I can see the players flagging. To freshen things up, I bring on Tony Adams for Mark Wright and Bryan Robson for Trevor Steven to control the midfield. The fresh legs force a corner in the lastminute and Butcher rises highest to settle the match. We’re in the bloody semi-finals!!
We find out our Semi-Final opponents, Brazil. Bloody Hell.
In the other quarter final matches, Germany beat Nigeria and Italy squeeze past Spain on penalties.
We’ve got about 5 days to recover from our exertions against Tunisia. So I order plenty of rest and some light training. This doesn’t stop Gazza and Waddle from nipping out for a ‘few beers’.
Semi Final Match 5 – Wednesday 8th July 1998 – Brazil vs England – Stade Velodrome.
The press back home are full of our heroics at France ’98, we’ve surpassed all expectations, including my own, with a team where the youngest players are 31 (Platt and Gascoigne if you’re wondering) and a goal keeper who is 47 and long overdue his pension.
However, this will surely be our toughest test, the might of Brazil and Ronaldo et al in full flow.
Holders Brazil came untroubled through a group including USA, Eire and Ukraine, before dispatching Colombia and holders France to set up a clash with our England faithful’s.
Our exploits might be heralded back home, but other nations are not too impressed with our journey into the latter stages of the tournament, but I just it as fuel to fire my charges up. One game from the final I tell them, you’re here on merit, let’s do it!
A creature of habit, I’m unwilling to make any changes, so England line up like so:
1 – GK – Peter Shilton – Torino
2 – RWB – Paul Parker – Free Agent
3 – LWB – Stuart Pearce – Newcastle Utd
4 – DC – Des Walker – Sheffield Wednesday
5 – SWDC – Mark Wright – Liverpool
6 – DC – Terry Butcher – Torino
7 – RM – Trevor Steven – Bristol City
8 – MC – David Platt – Arsenal
9 – SC – Gary Lineker – Torino
10 – FC – Peter Beardlsey – Bolton Wanderers
11 – LM – Paul Gascoigne – Glasgow Rangers
On the Bench:
12 – GK – Chris Woods – Burnley
13 – DC – Tony Adams – Arsenal
14 – CM – Bryan Robson – Middlesbrough
15 – RM – Chris Waddle – Burnley
16 – SC – Steve Bull – Wolverhampton Wanderers
Brazil have the better of the opening 15 minutes and Ronaldo takes advantage of aging legs to power through the defence and blast past a stunned Shilton. Stade Velodrome is a cacophony of Brazilian cheering. It lasts for a minute, as England power down the right hand side through diminutive Paul Parker who lofts a ball into the area, knocked out of play by Zetti. From the corner, Gazza finds the head of Mark Wright and England are level, euphoria!
The euphoria lasts for 18 minutes, as England repel wave after wave of attack, but are finally breached when Denilson spots Shilton off his line and lobs him from the edge of the area.
Not to be outdone, Beardsley pulls us level after some good link play by Platt and Gascoigne. The England fans are in full voice 2 minutes later when Ronaldo his hauled off the pitch. Is he injured? Are they arrogant and resting him for the final? Who knows, but it gives us hope when they replace him with Dunga and not Romario.
Sadness sweeps the England half on 44 minutes though, as Lineker fouls Bruno after a through ball from Platt. Its’ a yellow card. Gary’s 2nd of the tournament. He’ll miss the final, if we make it. He starts to well up. Gazza speaks to him and then motions to the bench to keep an eye on him, what a lad.
It’s 2-2. Ronaldo is off the pitch physically, but I fear Lineker might be mentally. Keep your head I tell him, get us to the final. Do it for the fans, do it for Des Lynam. Do it for Willie Thorne!
Gary listens and on the 51st minute, he scores his 51st England goal and puts us 3-2 up in the semi-final of the world cup against Brazil – amazing scenes!
Unfortunately, that’s as good as it gets. These players are knackered, and Brazil flex their muscle, scoring 3 goals without reply to win 5-3. I bring Steve Bull on for Beardsley after the 5th goal, but to no avail. There will be no fairytale ending to this story, but I am beyond proud.
Reality Check – England suffered the agony of penalties against West Germany but returned to England as heroes, as they will do once more.
In the other semi-final, Italy beat Germany 1-0 to set up a repeat of the 1994 final.
But what of our England heroes? Well, we have one more game, the 3rd place playoff against Germany to deal with before we head home.
3rd Place Playoff Match 6 – Saturday 11th July 1998 – England Vs Germany – Parc des Princes.
After the highs of the tournament, this is the game no-one wants to be in, after going so close to the final, but it’s there to be played and a chance for the stars of Italia 90 to exact a modicum of revenge against Germany.
I make a few changes to the line-up for this match, bringing Bully in for the suspended Lineker, move Pearce into the 3 man defence and play Dorigo at left wing back. Finally, Chris Waddle replaces Trevor Steven on the right of midfield.
We give Germany a bloody good game, helped somewhat by Jurgen Kohler getting sent for a very early bath. Wright and Waddle cancel out an early Klinsmann strike but we can’t make the extra player count and with 10 minutes to go, concede to a Stefan Freund free kick and after a goalless extra time, the match goes to penalties.
Unbelievably, Shilton guesses right twice to save from Klinsmann and Thon and look who is on had to smash in our fourth penalty and give us the bronze medals…..?
Reality Check – At Italia 90, England lost to Italy 2-1 after some awful fumbling from Shilton.
Over to the final, and Italy exact revenge on Brazil, Paolo Maldini winning it for Italy with a golden goal after Del Piero cancelled out Ronaldo in the first half.
So there we have it. England return to, well, England as Heroes, the stars of Italia 90 not quite going one better than in 1990, but surely doing the nation proud.
I never honestly thought we’d make it out of the group, the 2nd phase at a push, but to finish 3rd was amazing and I’m sad that its all over. Every-time the opposition team attacked, I thought Shilton would let it in, but in some matches, especially Norway, he kept us in it and our defenders popped up with some important goals. The legs held out, the formation worked and Gary Lineker finally became the all-time record goal scorer for England. I can already hear Nessun Dorma being played over the credits…
I hope you enjoyed this blog as much I have playing it, and then writing about it, and hope the twist in the Torino tale was worth sticking around for. Thanks to Dave as always for hosting it and I’m sure I’ll be back at some point to create another new story from this 20 year old game.
‘Loves got the world in motion and I know what we can do…’
My thanks to Matt for bringing us a wonderful save, I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I did. You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills but I’m off to negotiate a contract extension for him