GILES METCALFE remembers the game that defined his football supporting life – and rearranged Patrick Battiston’s teeth in the process.
No matter what, I’ve always loved the World Cup.
Post-Hillsborough, when I stopped going to football matches for a couple of years, I still loved the World Cup. Even these days, when I’m ambivalent about modern football at best, I still love the World Cup.
Why? Well, there are the usual reasons of course; the colour, the glamorous locations, the beautiful women in the crowd that the cameras always managed to pick out, the carnival atmosphere and the mere fact that football of the highest order is on TV at least twice a day and no one minded you watching it; but it goes back to 1982, when I was 10 years old.
Things you experience at that age and in adolescence are imprinted on you for the rest of your life, for better or worse, and I have fond memories of 1982.
The 1982 World Cup Finals, the twelfth FIFA World Cup, were held in Spain from June 13th to July 11th. With what could quite easily and justifiably be called bad timing – but because it was cheaper than going in the official school six-week summer holiday – my brother and I were taken out of school (which you could do without fear of punishment in those days) and were on our annual family holiday for the first two weeks of the tournament.
However, my Dad, being a football fan and Hispanophile, chose the child-friendly beach resort of Salou in Spain as our destination and my Mum agreed to go there – result! We would be in Spain for the World Cup!
Being 10, which is a fine age to be, I was old enough to understand more about the FIFA World Cup Finals than had been the case for Argentina ‘78, which I was really too young to appreciate, even though I’d been going to football matches since I was just 4-years-old.
I don’t have any clear memories of Argentina ‘78, but I do about Spain ‘82. I remember proudly wearing my Bulldog Bobby, the England mascot, t-shirt, which I wouldn’t wear these days, given the connotations of the imagery, plus the fact that it was kid sized and I’m certainly not anymore.
Being on holiday in the host country meant that we could spend all day on the beach and then watch a game or even two games in any of the bars in the resort where we were welcomed in with open arms. Football fans with children were treated very well. Being on holiday, my brother and I were even allowed to stay up late to watch the night matches, which kicked off at 9pm Central European Summer Time (CEST); just as the Spanish bars were starting to liven up.
I was exposed to several cultural firsts on that trip, including paella, calamari, older Spanish girls, the Galaxian arcade game in the hotel which I pumped full of pesetas and not forgetting the onscreen debut of Spanish superfan Manolo, or ‘Manolo el del bombo ‘ to give him his full title (‘Manolo the Bass Drummer’).
England had a strong squad for the tournament and considered to be in with an outside chance of winning it. The squad consisted of comparative veterans and young stars, including Trevor Brooking, Terry Butcher, Steve Coppell, Kevin Keegan, Trevor Francis, Glenn Hoddle, Paul Mariner, Mick Mills, Bryan Robson, Kenny Sansom, Ray Wilkins, Tony Woodcock and Peter Shilton, all led by the manager Ron Greenwood, one of English football’s best brains.
England got off to a flying start, with wins against France, Czechoslovakia and Kuwait, but frustrating nil-nil draws against the old enemy West Germany and hosts Spain saw England bow out.
This set the scene for the classic and epic second semi-final of the 1982 World Cup, between West Germany and France. We were back home by then, and instead of watching our World Cup football in a bar in Salou we watched it in the less exotic but comfortable surroundings of our semi-detached house in a suburb of Norwich.
With my Dad in his favourite chair, me in my usual spot laid down on my stomach facing the telly, and my brother trying his best to annoy me, which he did with practiced ease and frequency, we settled down to watch the match. I suspect that Mum was elsewhere, or reading a book, as she doesn’t really like football.
Tim Pears of The Observer sets the scene:
“Kick-off was 9pm but it was a muggy night in Seville, with the temperature in the high nineties.
“Michel Platini and the bearded Manny Kaltz shook hands with the officials: Dutch referee Charles Corver and his linesmen, Swiss Bruno Galler and Scot Robert Valentine. The captains tossed a coin, swapped pennants. There was a noisy, carnivalesque atmosphere.”
Germany were in charge in the early stages of the first half, and this purposeful play paid dividends in the 17th minute when Pierre Littbarski, West Germany’s find of the tournament, was teed up and drilled the ball through a mass of French bodies and into the net. One-nil to Germany, but France were soon to equalise.
Tim Pears again:
“Giresse floated the ball with the outside of his right foot into the right-hand side of the area. Platini out-jumped Dremmler to head the ball towards the six-yard line, where Berndt Förster made his clearing volley easier by wrestling Rocheteau out of the way with an arm around his waist. Corver had no hesitation in blowing his whistle and pointing to the penalty spot.
“Platini kissed the ball before placing it on the spot, and walking backwards. On the goalline, chewing gum, gloved hands on hips, Harald Schumacher glared at the ball, at Platini, at the effrontery of a penalty awarded against West Germany. Platini kept walking back. For a moment it looked like he might forget to stop walking. He reached the edge of the penalty area, and still kept going. Was he intimidated by Schumacher’s cold-eyed gaze? Still he kept retreating, right through the arc outside the penalty area. Finally Platini stopped, began walking, then jogging, back. Schumacher flung himself to his left. Platini struck the ball with the flat of his right foot, sending it just inside the opposite post.”
One-all, after 27 minutes.
West Germany resumed possession from the kick off, and players from both sides were getting stuck in. The game of football was far more physical than it is today, with referees showing a lot of leniency to players who made challenges worthy of a straight red card these days. The France left-back Manuel Amoros had got away with hacks at Littbarski, and Jean Tigana was brutally taken out by Wolfgang Dremmler.
Schumacher then made a thinly veiled assault on Platini, clattering Platini’s thigh with his shoulder. Platini, wincing, complained to the referee but Schumacher knew that he wouldn’t receive any punishment for the “collision” – he had the ball in his hands, and no referee would have given a penalty as a result. It was a foretaste of what was to come later from the German ‘keeper.
Half time and the kettle was put on with the score at 1-1.
The second half commenced with Germany picking up where they left off, and committing some heinous professional fouls. Berndt Förster took a running jump and kneed Rocheteau in the shoulder, getting only a yellow card.
Patrick Battiston then entered the field of play, coming on as a substitute for Genghini.
France began to take the upper hand, and had a goal disallowed, the ref deciding Rocheteau had impeded Förster.
Schumacher was subsequently in the spotlight again as, when the French fans held onto the original match ball when it went into the crowd instead of throwing it back to the impatient German goalie, he stood glaring; then, eventually, when a FIFA official gave Schumacher a replacement ball, he mimed hurling it at the French fans, before finally taking the goal-kick. Was this in jest, a bit of banter, or another act of aggression to add to the list of professional fouls already committed? After some seconds of surprised silence, boos began to ring out from around the ground.
Barely a minute later came the incident that means that Harald Schumacher’s name will always be infamous.
Platini floated a perfectly weighted backspin pass for Battiston to run onto before Harald Schumacher came charging out.
Tim Pears again:
“Battiston got to the ball first and kicked it over the oncoming keeper’s head. Everyone’s gaze followed the ball, which bounced narrowly wide of goal, so people only glimpsed that Schumacher had made contact with Battiston. Watching replays, it was clear what had happened. As the German journalist Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger puts it: ‘Just prior to crashing into Battiston, he [Schumacher] did a little jump and turned his upper body in order to ease the impact. Ease it for himself that is, as the helpless Battiston was hit in the face by Schumacher’s hipbone with full force, immediately going down unconscious.’
“France players – and the West Germany captain, Kaltz – surrounded the stricken man and began waving for help. The French physio and doctor ran on, and immediately called for a stretcher. By grim chance the Seville police had, for some unknown reason, barred Red Cross officials from the sidelines. It took three minutes for a stretcher to appear, lifted up from some basement store beneath the stands. Eventually uniformed men with Red Cross armbands trotted on.
“Schumacher, meanwhile stood, impassively at the edge of his six-yard box, ball under one arm, the other hand on his hip.
According to Hesse-Lichtenberger:
‘His body language said: “Get the guy off the pitch so that I can take my goal-kick.”‘
“Platini later said that he thought his team-mate was dead. ’He had no pulse. He looked so pale.’ Finally Battiston was carried off, accompanied on one side by a medic, on the other by Platini, who walked along bent towards Battiston’s ashen face. The unconscious player’s right arm flopped over the side of the stretcher, and Platini took Battiston’s hand. He spoke softly to him as he walked. As they neared the edge of the pitch, Platini raised Battiston’s hand and kissed it.”
Battiston’s visible injuries consisted of two lost teeth, but he also had three cracked ribs and damaged vertebrae, and was unconscious for almost half an hour after being carried off the pitch.
Much to everyone’s amazement, not least the commentators’, the crowd’s and ours at home, play restarted, without any punishment being handed out to Schumacher. It was almost as if the referee had forgotten about the original assault in all the mayhem that ensued. I can still picture Schumacher flying through the air and colliding so sickeningly with Battiston, and I was in absolutely no doubt, even at the age of 10, that he meant to take Battiston out.
France now also adopted West Germany’s less than beautiful tactics, with Trésor launching a vicious, studs-up lunge aimed at Kaltz, from which he wisely stepped aside lest his leg be broken. While the referee reproached Trésor and told him to calm down, Platini walked up to Trésor and ruffled his hair in blatant approval of the player’s actions.
The atmosphere was highly charged, and the game became very open as both teams looked to seal the win.
France had a late chance as Amoros unleashed an Exocet missile of a shot that hit the underside of the bar and bounced out. No goal.
There was, by necessity, a significant amount of injury time added on, and one final chance for West Germany to win the match in normal time, but the Germans were prevented from claiming an undeserved and ill-merited victory by a last ditch poke of the ball away by the French goalie Ettori.
The whistle blows and it’s one-all, at full-time, with extra time to be played and the prospect of penalties to follow if it’s still a draw.
As Tim Pears put it:
“Those of us watching then – as now, so many years later – knew that we were witnessing something extraordinary, but few could have imagined how much more these players were to give us.”
30 minutes additional play to keep us from our beds, and further goals from Rummenigge and Fischer for Germany, and Trésor and Giresse for France saw the match finish 3-3 AET.
‘So, abominably, irrationally and unforgivably,’ as Brian Glanville wrote, ‘a World Cup semi-final would be decided, for the first time, on penalties.’
No chance of going to bed now.
Some people don’t like penalty shoot-outs, and it’s easy to understand why if you’re an England fan, but I prefer them to the golden goal method of deciding games. I like the drama and the spectacle, especially if I’m a neutral as far as the game is concerned, and I see them as being a reward for sitting through an otherwise dull low or no scoring match. So much so that I’m disappointed if a game is decided by a goal scored in the second half of extra time as it means no penalties!
Not that the West Germany vs. France semi final was dull or low scoring, of course.
The semi final cemented my love of the penalty shoot-out for the years to come, and I can remember the palpable tension and excitement in the room as the shoot-out commenced.
Giresse, Kaltz, Amoros, Breitner and Rocheteau all scored. Uli Stielike’s effort was weak, and Ettori saved it easily. Stielike wept openly at his miss and the attendant belief that he had let his side and entire country down. Comforted by Littbarski, they showed the watching world that Germans were human too.
France’s Didier Six shot softly and it was Schumacher’s turn to make an easy save, and Littbarski made it 3-3 with his penalty.
The cool-headed Platini and Rummenigge both scored their respective penalties to make it 4-4, and the tension went up another level.
France’s Maxime Bossis was up next. He went to Schumacher’s right with his effort, and watched as the goalkeeper dived right too. Although the penalty was a half-decent one, the save was easy enough to make.
Horst Hrubesch was Germany’s final penalty taker, and he shot low and hard for the win. West Germany were through to the final – after all, the Germans always win on penalties.
Germany manager Jupp Derwall asserted afterwards:
“You must give my players the credit they deserve; they showed such strength of character.”
Brian Glanville agreed, but stated that:
“The taste, however, was exceedingly sour.”
West Germany and France had given us one of the all-time classic World Cup matches, but on the back of one of the worst acts of deliberate violence seen on a football field. Yes, we’d watched a scintillating game of football – one of the best matches ever – but things could and should have been very different had justice prevailed. Schumacher really should have been sent off, irrespective of whether or not the referee had been instructed to be lenient, not spoil the spectacle, and keep 22 men on the pitch; and Germany forced to play out the remainder of normal time with 10 men. This, in all probability, would have galvanised France into winning within 90 minutes. There should have been no need for extra time and the subsequent penalty shootout.
When Schumacher was told after the match that Battiston had lost two teeth, he is reported to have said:
‘If that’s all that’s wrong, tell him I’ll pay for the crowns.’
In a post-World Cup poll in a newspaper for the least popular person among the French, Schumacher beat Adolf Hitler into second place!
Italy, to universal approval, won 3-1 against Germany in the final, so justice of sorts was done, but France were robbed of the chance of victory.
According to Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger:
“The [West Germany] side returned home expecting to be hailed as the second best team in the world. Instead, the squad was met with frosty silence, if not outright disgust.”
Michel Platini was the French captain that night and, rather than dwell on the negatives, has said of the match:
“That was my most beautiful game. What happened in those two hours encapsulated all the sentiments of life itself. No film or play could ever recapture so many contradictions and emotions. It was complete. So strong. It was fabulous.”
I agree. It’s the best, and – because of Schumacher’s assault on Battiston – the worst game of football that I have ever seen, and set me up for a lifetime of appreciating fair play and disapproving of cheating, gamesmanship and blatant dirty tricks, which is why it’s the game of my life.
West Germany v France
8 July 1982, 21:00 CEST – West Germany 3 France 3 [AET] & Penalties [5-4]
Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, Sevilla, Andalucía (71,000)
Littbarski, Rummenigge, Fischer
Platini (pen), Trésor, Giresse
Penalty Shoot-out:- Giresse 1-0, Kaltz 1-1, Amoros 2-1, Breitner 2-2, Rocheteau 3-2, Stielike saved, Six saved, Littbarski 3-3, Platini 4-3, Rummenigge 4-4, Bossis saved, Hrubesch 5-4.