Mark Godfrey here, founder and former editor of The Football Pink website and magazine, although – as regular readers of this esteemed publication will know – I passed control over to the very capable guardianship of Chris Darwen and Ronnie Dog Media last year. One of the main reasons for doing so was to devote more time to my new project which I’m writing this short feature to tell you about.
Vincerà! – The story of Italia ‘90 is a 24-part podcast series that will run from June 8th to July 8th, 2020 to mark the 30th anniversary of possibly the most iconic World Cup finals tournament of them all. It also happens to be my absolute favourite!
The football at Italia ’90 is often criticised for its lack of goals and reductive tactics, but the game is about much more than statistics and approval ratings; that tournament more than made up for the perceived negativity with the drama and subplots that shaped the summer of 1990 for so many people around the world.
Italia ’90 was pivotal in shifting football into the modern age of satellite TV and digital connectivity; its influence probably felt greatest in England, whose rollercoaster ride to the semi-finals – spearheaded by the lovable impudence of Paul Gascoigne – helped to rekindle the passion of a nation that had fallen out of love with its favourite pastime during the dark, hooligan-blighted days of the 1980s.
It wasn’t only about England, though. The host nation, Italy, fell agonisingly short in front of its adoring fans but found an unexpected hero in Toto Schillaci – the man with the golden boot and the Sicilian stare; West Germany played their final tournament as a divided nation and were inspired to ultimate triumph by the drive of midfield general Lothar Matthaus; Ireland and their supporters enjoyed their first visit to a World Cup finals, while for Scotland, there would be yet another disappointing display; Cameroon shocked the world by beating holders Argentina, who went from being the heroes of 1986 to the villains of 1990 – the talismanic Diego Maradona simultaneously the best player on the planet and the bogeyman-in-chief; and, of course, there was Roger Milla, the 38-year-old brought out of retirement to inspire his country and continent with his eye-catching play and dazzling dance moves, all played out to a soundtrack of synth-pop and Puccini.
From San Siro to San Paulo, Cagliari to the Carabinieri; Italia ’90 was a tournament that dominated the headlines at a time when the world order changed forever in its orbit.
With an episode released to correspond with every day games were played at Italia ’90, Vincerà! will be essential listening for fans of football nostalgia. Hosted by me – Mark Godfrey – there will be plenty of special guests to share their memories including Pete Davies (All Played Out/One Night in Turin), Simon Hart (World in Motion – The Inside Story of Italia ’90), Barry Davies (BBC), Kevin Sheedy (Ireland), Pierre Littbarski and Thomas Berthold (West Germany), Gabriele Marcotti (ESPN), Rafa Honigstein (The Athletic), Pat Nevin (Scotland, BBC), Amy Lawrence (The Athletic) and many more.
See you on June 8th. Arrivederci… (it’s one on one)