How Germany Got its Game On

“Paul Breitner (1974, 1982). Spain, 1982. It was the saddest goal in a World Cup final. Paul Breitner reacted quickly to a loose ball in the Italian box, adjusted his body, and volleyed neatly into Dino Zoff’s bottom right corner. It was a goal that begged to be scored, had to be scored, but there was no joy, no sense of relief, not even hope. It wasn’t even a goal at all, really, but an anti-goal. It marked defeat, not victory. Breitner knew it. He raised his hand to acknowledge his inconsequential achievement and jogged back to the halfway line. Nobody came over to congratulate him. The West Germany vice captain looked like a schoolboy who had come up to the board and solve a problem for which there is no solution. Seven minutes before the final whistle at the Santiago Bernabéu, the time was up—for the World Cup (West Germany were 3-1 down against the Azzurri), for Breitner’s team, and for Breitner himself. …” 8 of 8

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