Gazza Sheds a Hero’s Tears

The match held on a balmy night in Turin contained as much drama as the rest of the tournament put together and created a national hero of a figure whose tragic-comic lifestyle remains a topic of the newspaper tabloids till this day.
The English player was Paul Gascoigne, described by the England manager the late (Sir) Bobby Robson as being as life “daft as a brush”, but gifted with skills and tremendous strengths not often matched by the industry that he often displayed on the pitch. However “Gazza”, as he was lovingly known by all, decided that this was the match that he would lead the white shirted of England into the final against Argentina, and gain revenge for Maradona’s “hand of god” in the 1986 finals. The West Germans were desperate for a rematch of the 1986 Final.
The match was a typical tight German performance, with the team marshaled from the touchlines by Franz Beckenbauer, and the first half ended goalless with neither side having a significant attack on goal. The match started at a different pace and England began to control the flow of play, orchestrated by Gazza who was turning in the performance of a life time. However as often happens, it was the West Germans who took the lead, through a diverted free kick from Andreas Brehme.
The goal, totally against the run of play, pushed England to fresh heights and Gazza’s strength and skill was felt on every inch of the park. Within the space of just a few minutes he set up gilt-edged chances for ace striker Gary Lineker, as well as Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle, none of which were taken. Gazza and England pressed on looking on for that vital equalizer. It came with just ten minutes to go, with Lineker knocking in his fourth goal of the tournament. England sensing victory in normal time pushed everyone forward in search of the winner. With just minutes to go, Gazza playing out of his skin, went into a tackle a little too exuberantly, received a yellow card. As the world media closed in on Gazza’s face as the realization that he would be illegible from taking part in the World Cup final, even if England succeeded in putting the West Germans out. There are few moments in soccer history more profound than when Paul Gasgoine shed a hero’s tears, and players and fans throughout the World cried along with them. Despite his personal distress, Gazza did all that he could to push England forward, but to no avail.
As the match went into extra time, the West German team shut up shop, although both sides did succeed in hitting the woodwork. The West Germans seemed much more interested in a penalty kick shoot-out, and when it came it was them that held their nerve considerably more than the England team, with Gazza not even being included in the taker’s list
So it was to be a West Germany- Argentina final which the Germans won in typical lack-luster fashion through a single penalty goal, while England and Gazza were left to wonder what might have been.

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