Ruud Gullit

Ruud Gullit was a very strongly built footballer, tall and powerful. On the pitch he was a threat as he was good at leaping over potentially crippling tackles with the same gazelle like style patented throughout the 1970’s by his fellow Dutchman, Johan Cruyff.

Gullit was as confident off the pitch as he was on it.

Between the years 1979 and 1982 he played for Haarlem, as a winger, he then moved on to bigger things moving to Feyenord. Gullit became recognised as a super international world class footballer by his fantastic display in the 1988 European Championships, where he helped Holland win the trophy. Through the majority of 1989, Gullit suffered from the inflammation of the right knee tendon which kept him off the pitch for most of that season. He returned to football playing in the European cup final on 20th May 1990, leading AC Milan to victory over Steaua Bucherast.

He was back playing again in Italia 90, after decent performances in Holland’s opening games against Egypt and England, he was outstanding for Holland in their final group match against the Republic of Ireland, where he gave Holland the lead, and he troubled the Irish defence throughout the game. Holland eventually went out of the competition against West Germany in a controversial second round match, which saw two players sent off. Gullit went on to play for Holland in the European Championships in 1992.

Roger Milla

One of the main stars of Italia 90 was defiantly Cameroon’s super substitute Roger Milla, at the age of 38, he was one of the oldest players playing in Italia 90, however his performances were breathtaking. He was outstanding as a substitute when he played in Cameroon’s second game against Romania, he scored two fine goals and created a number of openings, the Romanian defence could not control him. His game of the tournament was defiantly against Colombia in the second round, he scored two goals in this match after coming on as a substitute, which helped Cameroon beat Colombia 2-1, he attracted the attention of the world with his celebrations after scoring. He came on as a substitute against England, in that classic quarter final match; he was involved in two of Cameroon’s goals and was a major threat to the English defence. He ended the tournament as one of the top scorers, and he certainly made a big impact on the competition. Prior to the start of the tournament, Milla had already been capped 81 times for Cameroon, and he was tempted out of retirement.
In 1976, Milla was named Afrincan footballer of the year, after that he played his football for the French clubs Bastia, St Etinene and Montpellier.
In 1994 he starred for Cameroon once again in the World cup in USA, he also scored in the game against Russia, and became the oldest player of all time to score in a world cup match, at the age of 42. He participated in the world cups in the years 1982, 1990 and 1994.

Carlos Valderama – Colombia

Carlos Valderama is known as being one of South Americans greatest Midfielders of all time, Valderama made his debut for Colombia in 1985 in a match against Paraguay, however he soon became recognised as a quality midfielder and became the Captain of the team few years later.

He played for a Colombian first division club named Union Magdalena. He became very well known in Europe once he signed for top French side Montpellier in 1988. Valderama was an excellent footballer with electrifying pace and provides the perfect pass. He was Colombia’s biggest threat in Italia 90, where he scored an excellent goal in their 2-0 victory over UAE, and he created the goal which fellow Colombian team mate Rincon scored against West Germany, which was the equalizer that ensured Colombia went passed the group phase in the tournament. Despite a good performance against Cameroon, Colombia lost that match 2-1 and they were out of the tournament. He became a worldwide footballing icon thanks to his brilliant performances in Italia 90.

After the 1990 World cup, he went on too captain Colombia in the world cup in USA in 1994 and in France in 1998, however Colombia were disappointing on both occasions, failing to get past the group phase. He moved to America in 1996, where he played for Tampa Bay Mutiny and became an instant success in the MLS.

Lothar Mattaus

Lothar Mattaus is arguably one of the greatest footballers of all time, he kick started his footballing career playing for his local club, FC Herzogenaurach. Mattaus was featured in the West German squad which one the European Championships in 1980. He made his world cup debut as a substitute in a match against Chile, which the Germans won 4-1. He moved to top German club Bayern Munich in 1984 and once against starred for West Germany in the world cup in Mexico in 1986, Mattaus played well in this world cup and he scored the winning goal in a game against Morocco, which ensured West Germany will go to the quarter finals. Mattaus was given the role in the final to man mark Diego Maradona, which was always going to be a tough job. However West Germany lost the final 3-2.

It was really during Italia 90, where Lothar Mattaus would be best remembered. He probably produced one of his best ever performances against Yugoslavia in their opening match, which they one 4-1, he scored two amazing goals and was outstanding throughout the match. He played very well also against UAE and Colombia. In West Germany’s second round match against the Dutch, he was excellent; he had several goal scoring opportunities and was all over the pitch supplying perfect passes. He scored the winning goal in West Germany’s quarter final match against Czechoslovakia. He was one of the only footballers in the final against Argentina that had a decent game, as the 1990 World cup final was probably the worst world cup final ever seen. Mattaus was defiantly one of the best players of that tournament, and he had the privilege of lifting the trophy for West Germany. In 1990 he was also voted European footballer of the year, and he went onto play for Inter Milan in Italy where he was outstanding for them.

He eventually moved back to Germany in 1994, and he starred in Germany’s team in the world cup in USA in 1994. In this world cup he was employed as a sweeper. The Germans lost to Bulgaria in the quarter finals, which also marked Lothar Mattaus’s 21st game playing for West Germany in the world cup finals. At the age of 37, he once again played for Germany in the world cup in 1998. He played in four of the Germans matches in this world cup and set a new all time record playing in a total of 25 world cup matches. Mattaus even played for Germany in Euro 2000, at the age of 39, however that was to be the last time he played for Germany. Lothar Mattaus is definitely one of the all time footballing greats the world has seen. He also has 150 caps to his name, so he is also one of the most capped footballers in the world.

Andres Brehme – West Germany

Recognised as the greatest full-back of his era, Brehme was definitely one of the best players in Italia 90, he scored one goal in the match against Holland in the second round and also scored a free kick against England to give the Germans the lead in the semi final. Brehme also showed he has no nerves at the penalty spot as he kept his cool and converted a dubious penalty in the final against West Germany which won the Germans the 1990 world cup.

Brehme made his international debut in 1984, and he starred for West Germany in the world cup in Mexico in 1986. In the late 80’s and early 90’s Brehme played for Inter Milan, along with fellow team mates Mattaus and Klinsmann. After his spell at Inter Milan he played for Bayern Munich and Kaiserslautern. He then retired in 1998 at the age of 37. He played in three world cups between 1986 -1994 and gained 86 caps for his country.

Diego Maradona – Argentina

Maradona is brilliant in every aspect of his game. At his peak, his low centre of gravity makes it very difficult for other players to force him off the ball. His fast speed off the mark and his deceptive change in pace always causes problems for his opposition. Maradona has a thunderous shot with each foot and has a perfect footballing brain which made him an expert at weighing up a situation on the field. And considering his strength he made some surprisingly delicate touches, including the ability to play the ball in mid-stride, which gave him that split- second advantage over average players.

Diego Maradona grew up in a poor subarb of Buenos Aires, he along with few of his friends founded a team known as Los Cebollitas. He was then signed by first division club, Argentinos Juniors. By 1980, he was so good that Argentinos couldn’t hold him any longer, so he moved to Boca Juniors for £1 Million. From then on every occasion Maradona moved clubs it was for a world record fee. All of Diego Maradona’s fans will always remember his performance against England in the 1986 world cup quarter final, when he scored one of the best individual goals in the history of the world cup, he tore the entire English defence apart. Many critics remember how, in the same match, he clearly palmed the ball into the net right in front of a Tunisian referee, who was later banned by FIFA for incompetence. Throughout the entire 1986 world cup, Maradona’s performances were of the highest quality, his goal against Belgium was fantastic, and he tore apart entire teams in that tournament. He was excellent in the final against West Germany, where he passed the ball to Burruchaga who scored the goal that won Argentina the world cup. His 1986 world cup success contrasts sharply with his experience of 1978 when, despite being compared to some of the greatest players of the past, manager Cesar Luis Menotti dropped him from the Argentine squad shortly prior the finals. Maradona played for the Italian club Napoli from 1984, where he won two league titles with them and the UEFA cup.

Maradona was not at his best form before the 1990 World cup in Italy, he was arguably not at his best in the three opening games in the group phase, in the matches against Cameroon, USSR and Romania. However Maradona produced lots of magic in the second round match against Brazil, and it was in that match he made a fantastic 40 yard run, starting from the Argentine half, beating a number of Brazilian players and finally threaded the ball to his partner Caniggia, who scored the winning goal to send Argentina through to the Quarter finals. He was outstanding for Argentina in the matches against Yugoslavia and Italy; however he didn’t have his best performance against West Germany in the final which West Germany won 1-0 thanks to a dubious penalty. Maradona was the most fouled football player in Italia 90, his ability to roll past defenders was second to none.

Maradona’s final chapter in world cup football came during the world cup in USA in 1994. He scored in Argentina’s 5- 0 victory over Greece, however he failed a drugs test, which consequently banned him from the competition. Many consider Diego Maradona to be the greatest footballing players of all time; people even argue that he was even a better player than Pele.

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Paul Gascoigne - England

Gascoigne is originally from Gateshead. He started is professional playing career at Newcastle where he made 207 appearances for the club. In 1988 he moved to London club Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £2 Million. He made his England international debut in this same year against Denmark.

His form in the 1989-1990 season was excellent, and he was tipped to be the star of Italia 90, even before the tournament had begun. Gascoigne played really well in England’s opening game against the Republic of Ireland, however that game ended up in a dismal 1-1 draw. Gascoigne became recognised as a world class player in England’s 0-0 draw against Holland in their second group stage match. Gascoigne was fantastic on that night, producing magic all over the field; he was all over the entire pitch that day; however despite England having two goals disallowed and dominating the match, the game still ended up in a draw. Against Egypt, in their final group match Gascoigne provided the ball for Mark Wright to head in the net, which sealed England’s progression to the knock out phase. Gascoigne produced two sparkling performances in the matches against Belgium and Cameroon. It was his performance against West Germany which touched most football fans all over the world. After picking up a second booking in extra time, Gascoigne cried knowing that if England were to beat the Germans he would be suspended from the match, however, Gascoigne being the strong character he is, still played brilliantly for the rest of the match.

Gascoigne went on to stay one more year at Tottenham after the World cup, and injury kept him out of action for a year. He eventually moved to Lazio for a fee of £5.5 Million, however in 1995 he moved back to Britain and joined top Scottish club Glasgow Rangers, in the 95-96 season, he was named Scottish footballer of the year. He was in top form during the European Championships in the year 1996, where he scored a breathtaking goal against Scotland, in a game which England won 2-0. Gascoigne never featured for England in their 1998 world cup squad. Between the years 1998- 2002 he played for the Premiership clubs, Middlesbrough and Everton and later moved on to English club Burnley.

Salvatore Schillaci - Italy

The surprise star of Italia 90 without a doubt was Salvatore Schillaci, before the tournament he was unknown too many people, however by the end of the tournament he had won golden boot and was known all over the entire world. His first goal came against Austria in Italy’s opening Group A match, he came on as a substitute in that match and scored the winning goal. From then on he couldn’t stop scoring throughout the tournament. He scored the winning goal in Italy’s quarter final match against the Republic of Ireland, and he gave Italy the lead against Argentina in a semi final which Italy eventually lost in penalties. Scillaci was born in Palermo. Before Italia 90, Scillaci was playing for Seria B club, and a year prior to the world cup he moved to Juventus, where he scored 15 goals in 30 appearances for them. However after the world cup, Schillaci didn’t remain a permanent fixture in the Italian national squad.

Peter Shilton - England

Peter Shilton entered professional football with Leicester City, as a reserve goalkeeper to George Banks, England’s world cup winning goalkeeper in 1966. He made his league debut at the age of 16, in May 1966, he became the youngest ever player to appear for Leicester City. At Leicester, Shilton learned all his goalkeeping skills from Banks and was working to a meticulous training programme designed to eradicate mistakes from his game. Peter Shilton stayed at Leicester until 1974, when Stoke paid a domestic record of £340,000 for him. He then went on to join Nottingham Forest in 1977, he helped transform the club into one of Europe’s best sides, winning the European cup two years in succession. Shilton’s international career spans 20 years. Throughout his time playing for England he gave a unique sense of confidence and defensive security. He played in 5 world cup matches in 1982 and 5 world cup games in 1986. He was also England’s goalkeeper in Italia 90; he made important saves in the matches against the Republic of Ireland and Egypt. He was on top form against Belgium and Cameroon. He also made few crucial saves in the match against West Germany; however England were knocked out by the Germans in the penalty shoot out. He is England’s most capped footballer of all time winning 125 caps.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.