1982: third World Cup win
The adventure at the 1982 World Cup started in Vigo, Enzo Bearzot’s side were in a group alongside Poland, Peru and Cameroon and sneaked through with three draws and a lot of controversy. Only goal difference sent Italy though at the expense of the unbeaten Cameroon. There was a difficult atmosphere and poor relationship with the press and the Azzurri took the decision to not speak with jouurnalists. From the cold of Vigo to the hat of Barcelona, Italy now had to perform against the reigning champions Argentina and favourites Brazil. There seemed to be no hope.
However, the match against Argentina proved to be the turning point. Passarella’s side were stopped by Bearzot’s lads. Gentile stopped Maradona, Tardelli and Cabrini scored past Fillol. Argentina were on their knees. But against Argentina, Brazil scored an extra goal meaning that a draw would be enough for them to go through to the semi-final. The meeting between Italy and Brazil proved to be legendary. On 5 July at the Sarrià Stadium at 17:15, Italy started on the front foot. Five minutes in, Conti set up Cabrini who crossed for Rossi who headed in. Seven minutes later, Socrates equalised. Italy continued to fight and went ahead again in the 25th minute through Rossi. With 20 minutes go, Falcao showed enough desperate energy to equalise. It seemed to be over but Rossi restored the lead soon after. There was further drama as an Antognoni goal was wrongly ruled out before Oscar had a headed chance in the last minute. Brazil thought they had scored and were ready to celebrate but Zoff saved it on the line.
In the semi-final, Italy were up against Poland but they were without the suspended Boniek. It turned out to be a formality as Rossi scored another two great goals and the Azzurri progressed to the final against West Germany who had dramatically won their semi-final against France on penalties. On Sunday 11 July 1982, the whole world had eyes on the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. The President of the Republic Sandro Pertini was alongside the King of Spain Juan Carlos in the stands. Cabrini missed a penalty in the first half. Italy kicked on after the break. After another foul on Oriali, the ball was sent in from the free kick into the German box. Multiple players dived to get on the end of it but Rossi was the one who got there to find the net. It was a magnificent goal. Soon after, an attack started from the arms of Zoff before work from Scirea, Bergomi and Rossi and the ball fell for Tardelli who fired across Schumacher. His legendary celebration remains the defining image of the entire competition. After an epic run by Conti on the right, Altobelli finished to make it 3-0. The Germans had time to score a consolation through Breitner. Rossi finished as the World Cup’s top scorer and the captain Zoff had the honour of lifting the trophy for the first time. Credit went to the entire team and the coach Enzo Bearzot.