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|No.||Villain||The Gory Details|
Harald Schumacher 1982, 1986
Harald Schumacher might not have scored with the Hand of God.
He might not have told a team to go and kick lumps out of the opposition.
He never even collapsed, holding his face when a ball bounced into his knee.
Yet he is still Midfield Dynamo's number 1 World Cup Villain.
He committed a single act of such sick and hideous perversity, it was an affront to common decency and civilised society.
But enough about his "trumpet playing" in
West Germany's 1986 World Cup song,
what about that foul on Patrick Battiston in the 1982 World Cup semi final in Seville.
Yes, THAT, foul. For those of you who haven't seen the full 24 episode, Sir Ian McKellen narrated,
classic documentary series about the foul on the History Channel, this is what happened.
Played through by Platini, sub Battiston comfortably beat Schumacher to the ball but diverted his shot wide. Schumacher continued his run and jumped into the Frenchman, levering his body round slightly so that the full force of his hip and thigh clattered into Battiston's head. Battiston is knocked unconscious and later slips into a coma. Platini was concerned that his team mate was dead. However, while medical attention is administered to the injured man, the villainous German struts about in his goalmouth paying not the slightest attention to the victim of his crime. He then compounds the almighty sense of injustice by saving two penalties in the shoot out to put West Germany through to the final (he was a very good keeper it has to be said). Fortunately Battiston's injuries were not life threatening. Schumacher's reaction on being told that Battiston had 3 teeth knocked out (among other things) was typical "If that's all that's wrong with him, I'll pay for the crowns". A subsequent newspaper poll made him the least popular man in France (ahead of Hitler), though that honour now lies with Raymond Domenech. One final point. No foul was given. What is it about German's called Schumacher...
Maradona 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994
||Christ, where to begin. The charge sheet is detailed and lengthy. In his first World Cup in Spain (1982) Maradona was sent off as Argentina's abject World Cup defence crumbled against the far superior Brazilians. To be fair he did receive a mauling from opposition defenders throughout the competition. He practically wore Italy's Claudio Gentile during his previous match. If the obdurate Italian had followed Diego into the post match shower he wouldn't have been surprised. His patience finally snapped in the Brazil match as he raked his studs down Batista's leg as his team was beaten again. Maradona practically carried Argentina to success in Mexico 86 with a sequence of performances unlikely ever to be matched in a finals. Yet the Argentinean Slumdog wheeled through the air (geddit) to punch the ball past Shilts and knock England out in the quarter finals. It was a dazzling (and horrifying!) piece of trickery which bamboozled the Tunisian ref into giving the goal and gave our tabloids the necessary scapegoat for England's demise. To be fair the 2nd goal was worth two, but he compounded England's misery after the match by attributing his first to the Hand of God. The phrase, like the goal itself, briefly inflamed English public opinion, but Maradona has long been forgiven on these shores. Especially by Terry Butcher. In 1990 Maradona captained his hysterically obnoxious team all the way to the final. This was achieved via a combination of snarling, kicking, shirt pulling, cynicism, shoot out victories and one glorious reminder of his genius against Brazil in round two. In the final, two of his unstable team mates were sent off, Maradona blubbed and Fifa were so incensed that such a spiteful rabble could disfigure a World Cup final, they actually acted, banning the tackle from behind. Fifa had also banned cocaine (the Swiss spoilsports!) and in 1994 the final chapter on his World Cup playing career was acted out. By now Maradona's career had descended into a drug addled farce so it was with some surprise that he appeared on the world stage in America looking very sharp. His comeback was completed when he scored a spectacular long range goal against Greece in the opening fixture. Only a wild eyed celebration into a TV camera suggested something was not quite right. After a second impressive performance against Nigeria, he was selected for a drug test. This revealed a cocktail of performance enhancing drugs, which more than explained Diego's remarkable 'recovery'. Sent home in disgrace he was never to play for his country again. Somewhat surprisingly the only World Cup where Maradona has been relatively free of controversy was in South Africa as team coach. He provided real entertainment as he prowled the technical area suited and booted, but there was nothing to compare to the remarkable highs and lows of his playing days.|
Omar Borras 1986
||Omar who? No, not the one hit wonder Omar, who didn't have a second name. Nor the anti-hero from The Wire who probably did. Neither of them took a truly gifted group of players to the 1986 World Cup and proceeded to make them play like football was a matter of death and death. In the Group of Death. Omar Borras did, and that's why he's high up the list. Ironically it was Borras himself who coined the term Group of Death. His Uruguay team had qualified for the Mexico tournament with some style and in Enzo Francescoli had a player ready to, in tabloidese, light up the World Cup. Unfortunately for the World Cup and Francescoli, the lights went out. Mostly the oppositions. Their opening match, a draw, passed off relatively peacefully with the South Americans perhaps mindful that Harold Schumacher was in the West German goal. But in the second match against Denmark Miguel Bossio was sent off for an appalling challenge in the 19th minute. The fouls rained down on the Danes, but they held there nerve and the neutrals favourites put Barros' crude team to the sword, 6-1. However, thanks to the vagaries of the 24 team competition they only required a point for progression against Scotland. To get it they plumbed new depths with a display of intimidation and thuggery as yet unmatched in MD's experience of watching World Cups. Jose Batista was sent off (IN THE FIRST MINUTE) for an assault on Gordon Strachan. Brave though it was in the 80s to remove a player that early, a stronger ref would have had Uruguay struggling to keep the minimum 7 players on the field. However, they kicked, scratched, spat and hair pulled their way to the 2nd round. After the match Borras raged against the French ref Quiniou, preposterously calling him a 'murderer'. This earned him a one match touchline ban from those strict bastions of footballing morals, FIFA. In round 2 there was trepidation as they were to meet fierce rivals Argentina. With threats of expulsion from the tournament hanging over them Barros' men performed insipidly and lost 1-0.|
Antonio Rattin 1966
||We in Britain have a notion that somehow we don't play like Jose Foreigner. This works in two ways. In the negative sense we are convinced that somehow we can't play the sort of quality, technical football associated with Latin countries. But equally we firmly believe that we're incapable of the type of low cunning (aka cheating) that those nebulously titled 'Latins' not only practice, but have hardwired into their footballing DNA. This has changed over the years as the globalisation of football has reduced cultural disparities. But the notion wouldn't exist if there wasn't any truth in it. Two men who probably sum up the gulf that once existed between British and South American attitudes are Sir Alf Ramsey and Antonio Rattin. At Wembley in 1966 Ramsey's organised, if a little unimaginative team came up against an Argentinean side led by Rattin. The visitors were epitomised by their captain. He was technically gifted, cynical and rebellious and his team came at England with a streak of menace. Their intimidatory tactics disfigured what could have been a classic clash of styles and also harmed their own chances of success. An alternative reading of this would suggest that Argentina were merely getting their revenge in first against aggressive, hard running north Europeans on home soil who'd be protected by a German referee. Indeed Argentina had complained bitterly about the imposition of Herr Kreitlein and were openly suspicious that the game was fixed. None of this forgives the idiocy of what Rattin preceded to do. He harangued the beleaguered Kreitlein at every opportunity. He ignored warnings and a caution in his attempts to influence the referee. Eventually (35th minute) Kreitlein's patience evaporated and Rattin was ordered off. Only he wouldn't leave, following the hapless ref and engaging in a futile debate to reverse the decision. Rattin's German was about as good as Kreitlein's Spanish. Once departed, Rattin then sat on the red carpet which was for the exclusive use of the Queen. The scoundrel! England played poorly against the 10 men and were slightly fortunate to win 1-0. After the match Ramsey, never the diplomat, poured petrol on the bonfire by calling the Argentineans 'animals'. A bitter rivalry had begun.|
The players and coaches of West Germany and Austria 1982
||In 1982 one of the most shameful episodes in World Cup history was played out in the northern Spanish city of Gijon. Algeria had caused one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history when they beat West Germany earlier in the group stage. By the time the two European neighbours were due to meet, Algeria had completed their fixtures and both countries knew that a narrow German victory would see them both home at the expense of the outsiders from North Africa. Once the Germans had taken an early lead through Hrubesch the match simply petered out with both sides happy to pass the ball sideways to each other and make no attempt to add to the scoreline. This contemptible fix had the blessing of both coaches, though Fifa's schedule had allowed such a situation to arise. However that doesn't excuse those who colluded so disgracefully to eliminate Algeria in what came to be known as the Nichtangriffspakt von Gij©n (the non-aggression pact of Gijon). Fifa refused to take sanctions against either country and a distraught Algeria was sent home. Despite Fifa's feeble approach, both teams had disgrace heaped on them closer to home. The German TV commentator refused to comment on the game for half an hour and his Austrian equivalent advised viewers to switch the game off in protest. Even now, 28 years on, MD bubbles with rage thinking about this one.|
Zinedine Zidane 1998, 2006
||Zizou certainly went out with a bang. A headbang, right into Marco Materazzi's chest. Zidane was playing the last match of a wonderful career in the most fitting of arenas - a World Cup Final. A player of genuine grace on the pitch and quiet dignity off it, he nevertheless possessed a capacity for violence which surfaced on occasion. En route to the 1998 World Cup victory on home turf, he managed to get himself sent off for an ugly stamp on a prostrate Saudi Arabian. One of 14 professional red cards. Injury cost Zidane a meaningful contribution in 2002 so 2006 would be his final chance for glory. After staggering through the group it is generally agreed that Zidane, along with other senior pros like Thuram and Makelele, effectively took over the running of the team from coach Domenech. In the knock outs France clicked into gear despatching Spain, Brazil and Portugal before facing Italy in the final. With the match locked at 1-1 in extra time he infamously erupted in anger after some verbals with Marco Materazzi. His head butt to the chest was missed by many, including it initially appeared, the referee. However, after momentary confusion he was off with the replays telling us, emphatically, why. The full story of what provoked his fury and violence has never been adequately explained. While it quite possibly cost the French the World Cup, it was an extraordinarily memorable way to bring the curtain down on an unforgettable and enigmatic player.|
Slaven Bilic 1998
||It could so easily have been Rivaldo for his improvised, theatrical take on being hit on the knee by a ball, but our Best Actor award goes to Slaven Bilic. The clever, articulate and media savvy Croatian coach performed arguably the worst piece of acting in World Cup history. With a free kick about to be delivered Bilic held Laurent Blanc who tried to wriggle free. Minor contact between Blanc's chin and Bilic's chest caused the Croatian to collapse on the floor holding his forehead. While Rivaldo's collapse was more comical it didn't prevent a French legend from missing a World Cup final in Paris. Imagine if some Balkan rascal had got Bobby Moore suspended from the 1966 final in similar circumstances. The Archbishop of Canterbury would have been forced to issue the Christian equivalent of a fatwa. Fortunately for France, if not Blanc, the home side prevailed over the treachery of Bilic and won the match 2-1 going on to win the final without Blanc, who was robbed of his greatest moment. Bilic, to his credit apologised afterwards but Fifa stuck by its imbecilic rules and banned Blanc from the final.|
Frank Rijkaard 1990
||Nobody condones spitting, even if the recipient is a mullet haired German stereotype, remorselessly steamrolling his way towards another World Chamipionship. Most footballing exponents of spittle-spreading tend to quickly nip a little bit out as a quick 'hit and run' style exercise. Not the urbane former Barcelona coach. After a typical exchange of views associated with the venomous Holland v Germany rivalry, Rijkaard knows mere words are not enough. He summons up such a flobberdobulous beauty that the back of Voller's head immediately resembles a tangled old fishing net, lodged in the Beachy Head surf. The referee then decides to send both men from the field to continue their liquid discussion on the way off. Voller retains a certain dignified anger as he departs. Well as dignified as a man with a head full of expectorate can be.|
The players of Chile and Italy 1962
||Simply the best / worst World Cup barney ever. Made Portugal v Holland look like the FIFA Fair Play Off Final. The action is a pretty incongruous mix of genuine violence and effeminate handbagging, not dissimilar to an underwhelming tussle between Emu and Grotbags (kids - ask yer Dad). The match will forever be known as The Battle of Santiago and a quite magnificently shocked David Coleman performs his disgusted of Tunbridge Wells act perfectly on the BBC's transmission.|
Peter Shilton (England) 1973, 1986, 1990
||All right, we know what you're thinking. Shilts! A World Cup villain! Our most capped player? A genuine legend and national icon up there with Bobby Moore, Gary Lineker and Danny Mills? But look at the evidence people, open your eyes. Strictly speaking this is limited to the World Cups proper but we can't let his blunder in the 1973 qualifier against Poland go unnoticed. Then what about 1986 when a flat footed Shilton was out jumped by the midget Maradona. Ok so he used his hand but his arm was bent across. Shilton had no such restriction and half a foot's worth of height advantage. But, I theoretically hear you say, what about Italia 90? Clean as Jack Taylor's whistle. Think again. There was his inability to be in the same hemisphere as West Germany's penalties and a calamitous mix up in the 3rd Place Play Off against Italy. You may mock the 3rd Place Playoff, but we here at MD don't. How many have we been in for Christ's sake? The squad have usually started pre season training by the time of the 3rd Place Play Off. Guilty as charged.|