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Italy-Germany 1970, the match of the century was almost half a century ago

by Gabriele Ferraresi / LUZ
In 120 minutes, a lot can happen: or nothing. It's a couple of hours: how many pairs of hours are in the life of a human being? Tens of thousands. However, there are 122 minutes that have made more history in football and sports at large than most have. These have been the final minutes of the match between Italy- Germany on June 1970, ending with a stunning 4-3.

It’s June 17, 1970, almost half a century ago: a collective event that still divides those who are - or were at least conscious enough to remember - and those who are not, a thin red line for a generation that twelve years later would also enjoy the triumph at the 1982 Spanish World Cup.

The unique value of Italy Germany 4-3

A symbol that lives within the soul of a nation represented in the form of a national team. At a time when the scars of Italy and Germany were still healing. One out of all? The Second World War, which ended 25 years prior. For us, it would have been like reminiscing an event that took place in 1994: the day before yesterday’s news, basically.
Giacinto Facchetti in a match against the German Democratic Republic in 1969
The articles in the newspapers of the time about Italy - Germany, 4-3 have named this match the game of the century: the German footballers are called panzer - in La Stampa of Thursday, June 18, 1970 we read, in text terms: "Panzers stopped" - as if they were Nazi tanks. The war evocation is immediate, evident: those in their thirties or forties and read the about the triumph of the Azzurri witnessed the horrors of the war when they were young, they grew in them. Who wrote that title did too.
Sectors of crowded stadium
A single game, even if acclaimed as the game of the century, is composed of human beings, in a combination that only in that time - that famous couple of hours - and only if other unrepeatable conditions occur can enter history. Let's remember the names that have entered history.

The teams of the game of the century

The Italian Germany 4-3 team coached by Ferruccio Valcareggi was composed by: Albertosi, Burgnich, Facchetti, Bertini, Rosato (Poletti from 90'), Cera, Domenghini, Mazzola (Rivera from 45'), De Sisti, Riva, Boninsegna. Just the list is enough to give people goosebumps.

Helmut Schön's Germany answers with Maier, Patzke (Held since 63'), Schnellinger, Schulz, Beckenbauer, Grabowski, Overath, Vogts, Seeler, Müller, Löhr (Libuda since 63'). Peruvian referee Yamasaki oversaw the match. Scorers at the end of the match: Boninsegna 8’, Schnellinger 90', Müller 94', Burgnich 98', Riva 104', Müller 110', Rivera 111'.

Vintage football boots hanging on the nail

Maier, Patzke (Held since 63’), Schnellinger, Schulz, Beckenbauer, Grabowski, Overath, Vogts, Seeler, Müller, Löhr (Libuda since 63’).

One says history cannot pass more than once in the same place. Instead, it is always at the Azteca that in 1986 Diego Armando Maradona chose to make legend with his “mano de Dios”. Always at the Azteca Stadium, in 1993 Michael Jackson totaled in six dates 600,000 spectators for his Dangerous World Tour. Yet, the myth of the Azteca stadium began exactly with one of the most extraordinary matches ever played by the Italian national football team - the match of the century. In fact, the stadium had been inaugurated only four years earlier.

Italy Germany 4-3, legendary in every way

Italy Germany was made even more epic by the hour it was played. Indeed, in Mexico the kick off was at 5 pm, meaning that the match was seen live in Italy at around midnight. Moments after two o'clock in the morning, roads all across Italy were invaded, with carousels and Italian flags outside the iconic Fiat 500 cars, a testimony to the defeat of the German "Panzers".

Italy Germany 4-3 was so incredible, so full of tension, that just the anxiety of watching it made the people sitting on the bench lose weight.

It can be read in the newspapers of the time. As reported by La Stampa: "Bertini: 4 kg less in two hours of match". The problem was that Mario Bertini, midfielder with the number 10, class 1944, had been on the field. "Zoff, Juliano and Prati all reported a weight loss and extreme nervous fatigue due to the emotions of the match". This time, all of them were seating.

Albertosi, Burgnich, Facchetti, Bertini, Rosato (Poletti since 90’), Cera, Domenghini, Mazzola (Rivera since 45’), De Sisti, Riva, Boninsegna

How was Italy Germany for those playing it instead? An unforgettable and cherished memory. Those who played in the game of the century are the same as those who walked on the Moon: few, with less and less as time goes by. The participation in an undertaking whose grandeur was immediately clear, so much so that in the days following the match a plaque at the Azteca remembered the challenge: it still says today "El Estadio Azteca rinde homenaje a las selecciones de Italia (4) y Alemania (3) protagonistas, en el Mundial de 1970, del PARTIDO DEL SIGLO. 17 de junio de 1970".

No translation is needed. How many other matches are celebrated by a plaque in the stadium where they have taken place? Few.

How many more matches are celebrated by a plaque in the stadium where they took place? Few.

Italy Germany 4-3, a battle full of heroes

Italy Germany 4-3 would have not been as such without its heroes. The Italian national team from 1970 has entered the hall of fame of the Italians for decades, even before it did at FIFA or the Italian Football Federation’s. the team was a mix of heart, thrills, emotions, memories, life. From goalkeeper Albertosi, to "thunderclap" Gigi Riva; from Gianni Rivera to Roberto Boninsegna.
Football net
Someone can still be seen on local TV commenting on the championship, always close to the team where he grew up - this is the case of Sandro Mazzola with Inter: in Mexico there was, yes, but on course with coach and locker room - someone chose a career away from football as Gianni Rivera - who in 1970 was Ballon d'Or in charge - while others have remained well or badly in the national team as Gigi Riva. Often closer to the eighties than to the seventies, many of them are still there, some are no longer there.

The Second World War, which ended 25 years earlier in 1970, was like for us something that happened in 1994: not yesterday, but let's say the day before yesterday.

Then there is another kind of hero from Italy Germany, Karl Heinz Schnellinger. He played in the German national team, though he also was a player - at the time at least- of Milan. Very blond, more Teutonic than the Oktoberfest. Once his career on the field was over, he stayed in Italy and today, at eighty years of age, he lives between Segrate, in the province of Milan, and a Piedmontese village where he has a vacation house.

Some time ago on Il Giornale, they asked him to remember Italy Germany 4-3, where he, a defender not familiar with the penalty area, also managed to score. A very important goal then, come after the 90th minute of the regular time, which decreed the draw 1 - 1 and sent the game to extra time.

Vintage soccer ball
The only goal of his career in the German national team. The only one. Well, the journalist asked Schnellinger about his teammates' comments on the pitch when he scored. Answer: "I found myself buried by the hugs of my team-mates. When I got up, I didn't have the courage to look Rosato in the eye. But the others...".
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