Every SI Story ... Every SI Photo ... Ever SI.COM/VAULT
This is an article from the July 19, 2010 issue
EXCERPT | July 19, 1982
Rise of the Azzurri
Italy won the World Cup for the first time since 1938
The 1982 World Cup final pitted the game's top striker, West Germany's Karl-Heinz R√ºmmenigge, against the tournament's improbable goal-scoring sensation, Italian striker Paolo Rossi. Clive Gammon reported for SI.
To the rockets' red glare, to the howling of 87,000 manic fans in the humid bowl of Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium—and before possibly the biggest TV audience in history, more than two billion viewers in 130 nations—R√ºmmenigge, head high, face stoical, slipped away to his team's dugout and his own thoughts. It was 25 minutes into the second half of his nation's game against Italy in the final of the 1982 World Cup.
For him, the showdown in Spain was over. The first rockets of the night, 15 minutes earlier, had been sent up by Italian partisans to cheer a striker other than R√ºmmenigge. Rossi had just put his country ahead 1--0. And it had been a clumsy and uncharacteristic foul by R√ºmmenigge himself that resulted in the free kick that in turn led to the chipped ball Rossi had headed home with delicate ease.
Now, as R√ºmmenigge came out, the score was 2--0, and the rockets were ascending again. By withdrawing, R√ºmmenigge admitted what the crowd had long sensed, that his strained right thigh muscle could respond no more. For the rest of the game, like a broken gunfighter who no longer goes out on the street, he watched as the blue-shirted Italians—the Azzurri—now confident, later brilliant, cut his team to pieces and in magnificent style won the World Cup 3--1. In winning, Italy stepped proudly beside Brazil, the only other three-time champion.
Rossi's tournament-high six goals earned him the Golden Boot award. In 2006 Italy beat France to win its fourth World Cup title.
SI.COM | Breaking News | Real-time Scores | Daily Analysis
Can't Stand the Heat?
Get the latest news and insight every day on your favorite sports with SI Video's Inside Report, hosted by Maggie Gray. This week Gray and SI's Chris Mannix analyze LeBron James (6) and the new-look Miami Heat and examine whether or not South Beach's version of the Big Three can find the right chemistry to bring a second championship to Miami. You can also watch up to 70 more videos each week, including reports from the Tour de France, daily breakdowns from each round of the British Open and interviews from The Dan Patrick Show.
Mike Leake Red-hot Rookie
Brazil World Cup Letdowns
Finger Lickin' BBQ Rib Challenge
Burning Up Cavs Fans React
Gary Player Golf Legend
Chase Utley Injured All-Stars