Eighty Two: My first World Cup and why it was awesome

When I heard Richard Sadlier and Ken Early on @SecondCaptains talking about how their first World Cup memories were 1990, I felt very grateful that even though only five years their senior, I can still vividly recall golden moments from the 1982 World Cup.

I’d only recorded eight years on the odometer at that point so I was innocent

Naranjito, the mascot. I guess Pique was the next one.
Naranjito, the mascot. I guess Pique was the next one.

enough to cheer on England and Northern Ireland, my psyche as yet untainted by tribalism, jealousy and Schadenfreude.

LUVFOOTY 1982 WORLD CUP MEMORY Bryan Robson hooks home after 27 seconds against France in the first World Cup game I watched from the beginning.


So much has changed since the tinny sound and grainy pictures of 1982.  Back then on-screen stats consisted of occasionally showing the score and elapsed time whenever the director remembered to push the button.

But more strikingly football has changed. Back then international football had a mystique borne out of exotic ideas like two substitutions, players wearing numbers greater than 11 and people who didn’t speak English.

Let’s put it this way.  Josef Venglos was manager of Czechoslovakia at the 1982 World Cup.  Eight years later he was to become the first foreign manager of an English club.

In 1982 there wasn’t even any live English league games on TV. The first live league match since the 1960s wasn’t broadcast until 1983. So to see a gathering of the greatest players in the world over a four-week period, live on television, was the event of the year.

LUVFOOTY 1982 WORLD CUP MEMORY An Arab Sheikh protests on the pitch after France are awarded a goal against Kuwait, leading to the referee changing his mind. 32 years later Sheikhs are still heavily influencing the game. #satire


A cursory review of the squads reveal what global football was like at the time.  Spain and Italy’s 22 men squad all played in their respective leagues. All but Uli Stielike (Real Madrid) played in West Germany. Tony Woodcock was the only member of England’s team playing outside the country (he was at Cologne). Didier Six (later to play for Aston Villa) was France’s lone traveler, at Stuttgart.

Oh, and the Soviet Union’s entire squad played behind the Iron Curtain. But I suppose that makes sense considering the Communist Soviet regime of the time.

Today the squads are dispersed all over the world. Nine of Spain’s 23 are outside the country, France have 15 outside the French league and seven Germans ply their trade in foreign climes.

Meanwhile Russia’s squad …. plays entirely in the Russian league.  Oh.

LUVFOOTY 1982 WORLD CUP MEMORY Marco Tardelli’s celebration in the World Cup final made him one of my favourite players. Then he became this guy.


But can the 8 year old kid today watch the game with wide-eyed fascination like I did?  I was seeing Zico, Socrates, Maradona, Zoff, Platini, Kempes, Rummenigge and Boniek for the first time.  The next time I’d see most of these guys might be two or four years down the road. In the meantime, it was back to Jimmy Case and Mick Channon for me.

Sure, 8 year old.  Enjoy seeing Ronaldo, Messi, Suarez, Xavi and Fellaini this month.  And then when the festival of football is over, you can just turn it on again the next day, and the day after that and the day after that.

How can one enjoy sunshine when it never rains, I ask you?


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