Marco Tardelli is one of Italy’s most decorated footballers who was an integral figure in each of Juventus’ five Serie A titles in the 80’s.
The defensive midfielder was also on the pitch in the 1985 European Cup when Juventus beat Liverpool at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, where thirty-nine people died and 600 were injured when fans were crushed against a wall that then collapsed.
Three years earlier, he helped Italy to a historic first World Cup win in 44 years as his Squadra Azzurra went all the way in Spain. Yet, courtesy of that extraordinary achievement at España 1982, Italy pulled level with Brazil’s three World Cups at the time.
Tardelli, now a renowned football pundit for Rai 1, takes us through the tournament recalling the emotion of being carried on the wave of a nation’s euphoria and lifting the lid on who he personally felt the real talisman was.
And unfortunately it is someone who is no longer among us.
“All of the match in 1982 were great memories, you can’t really choose one memory because the whole tournament was a real beauty with the whole country behind us,” Tardelli recalls.
“Some of the key players were Bruno Conti, Paolo Rossi and Dino Zoff who pulled off an excellent save from Brazil’s Oscar.
“But i think that Gaetano Scirea [who was killed in a car accident while on a scouting mission in Poland in 1985] was the real heartbeat of the team, he was excellent.”
Gaetano Scirea was renowned for his class, fair play and sportsmanship and he was astonishingly never sent off during his career.
Even today, he remains alongside Franco Baresi the absolute yardstick by which all Italian defenders are judged. The pair were great friends on and off the pitch.
Asked whether Brazil in the semi-final or Germany in the final were the biggest obstacles to overcome, the 63-year-old said: “The game against Brazil was fun, it was a very tough game but at the same time fun.
“As for the Germany game, well it was the final. Had we lost that one…”