On Sunday night
it was the petulant and ineffective Maradona who took the field, and that was
sad, because, as he said last week, "This is my last game for
Argentina." In true form he couldn't help adding, "And many years will
pass before Argentina plays in another World Cup final. My captain's armband is
now available." ( Maradona is 29 and has three more years left on his
contract with the first-division club in Naples. After that, there's no telling
what he will do. He may even move to Japan, where, reportedly, Hei Arita, the
president of an educational-supplies distribution company called PJM Japan, has
offered him two billion yen—$13 million—to play for his company team, even
though there won't be a Japanese league until 1992.)
Before game time
all of Italy was hoping for Maradona's humiliation, even fans in Naples, whose
team he had taken to two Italian championships and the UEFA Cup. After his
penalty kick beat Italy in the semis, he said, "I hate to enjoy the sadness
of my friends. I don't want to be an enemy." Nevertheless, that night some
fans stoned his house in Naples.
Except for that
outburst, Italy seemed stunned into silence at the shock of being eliminated
from the World Cup it was so confident of winning. For two of the players
involved in the penalty shootout that decided the game it was a personal
tragedy. Midfielder Roberto Donadoni, who had played so well in the series
until he missed his penalty shot, was distraught. "I am sorry to have let
so many people down," he said. Striker Aldo Serena, who flubbed his penalty
shot after Donadoni's miss, said, "I wear the sadness of 20 million people
on my back." It was a sickening way to go out, and all of Italy seemed to
lay the blame on Maradona.
night in Turin, when the same penalty-shot fate befell England in its semifinal
loss to West Germany, you couldn't find a lover of the game anywhere in Italy
who would not condemn FIFA, the sport's international governing body, for its
get-a-result-and-get-it-fast policy of using penalty kicks to decide important
games. England manager Bobby Robson bitterly called it "Russian
roulette." But it was the players who best conveyed the injustice of the
shootout. Peter Shilton, England's goalie, eyes puffy from crying, said,
"This was a bigger joke than the one that Maradona put over on us in Mexico
City, only this time we had nobody to get mad at." After the defeat,
midfielder Paul Gascoigne was so overcome by emotion that he wandered, crying,
onto the West German bus by mistake.
And so it was on
Saturday in Bari that England and Italy played out the anticlimactic game for
third place. Italy won 2-1 as striker Salvatore Schillaci, who had captured the
hearts of his countrymen with his brilliant play, became the tournament's top
scorer when he converted—what else?—a penalty kick.
The real game,
though, would come on Sunday, and as 30,000 Germans marched into Rome to watch
it, many chanted insultingly, "Scheisse Maradona! Maradona Scheisse!"
As play began, however, it became clear that Maradona was not going to be much
of a threat. Argentina got consistently bogged down at midfield and played as
if hoping for a penalty-kick shootout. In the end, the Argentines made only one
shot on goal, while the West Germans took 16.
Few of the West
Germans' shots looked very dangerous, except for a near miss by Brehme from 30
yards out. Overtime, even another unspeakable penalty-kick shootout, looked
possible. Then began what would become a chapter of shame in Argentine soccer
history. Until Sunday night, no player had ever been expelled from a World Cup
final. But in the 65th minute, Pedro Monzon, who had already been suspended
once earlier in the tournament, viciously chopped down Klinsmann. It was a
straight-up red card, and Monzon was ejected.
In the 84th
minute, V�ller was brought down in the penalty area by Roberto Sensini. A
penalty? Of course. After all, this was the World Cup of the penalty kick.
Brehme rocketed the ball to goalie Sergio Goycochea's right, just inside the
post. It was the only goal but not the last of the drama.
Argentine would be sent off when, three minutes before the end, striker Gustavo
Dezotti got a second yellow for half-choking J�rgen Kohler. And Maradona, to
crown an entirely lackluster evening, got a yellow card himself for arguing the
Or maybe that
wasn't quite his crowning event. Maradona's last touch of a ball in a World Cup
match was literally that. With only moments left in the game, he knocked down a
pass with his arm and was whistled for a hand ball.