UEFA Cup. A kind of uncertainty could be detected in this issue of the tournament – the leading football nations were a bit shaky, perhaps suggesting change of guard. West German, English, Spanish, and Italian clubs were either eliminated early or struggled against opponents they were easily beating only a short time ago. But no country was really challenging the top nations – rather, the teams were getting more equal and there were no big favourites. To a point, the leading nations were losing ground and lowering themselves. To a point, it was a sign of the 1980s – hardly any exciting and great teams. Instead, fairly equal kind of football played almost everywhere – physical, gritty. Anyhow, some big names were eliminated in the first round: VfB Stuttgart by Hajduk (Split), Atletico Madrid by Boavista (Porto), Napoli by Radnicki (Nis), West Bromwich Albion by Grasshopper, Ipswich Town by Aberdeen. More casualties in the second round: Inter (Milano) was eliminated by Dinamo (Bucharest), PSV Eindhoven by Rapid (Wien), Arsenal by Winterslag (Belgium), Borussia (Moenchengladbach) by Dundee United, Southampton by Sporting (Lisbon). In the third round the only upset was the elimination of Feyenoord by Radnicki (Nis). At this point the modest Yugoslavs were really noticed – they had a good domestic season, but the club was known to be among the top Yugoslavian clubs and the move of their star goalkeeper Dragan Pantelic to France was considered a handicap. But they played strong football so far in the UEFA Cup. The quarter-finals destroyed predictions: Valencia lost to IFK Goteborg, Real Madrid, seemingly going for easy qualification after beating 1. FC Kaiserslautern 3-1 at home, was completely annihilated in the second leg – 0-5, already mentioned Radnicki eliminated Dundee United 0-2 and 3-0, and Hamburger SV continued its precarious season with one more difficult qualification: they won their home leg against the Swiss Nechatel Xamax, hardly one of the strongest team even at home, 3-2 and managed life-saving scoreless tie in the second leg.

So, the semi-finals were quite surprising: Radnicki vs Hamburger SV and 1. FC Kaiserslautern vs IFK Goteborg. Looked like a West German final was coming but… after the first leg it was not going to be. IFK Goteborg extracted a 1-1 tie in Kaiserslautern and Hamburger SV lost 1-2 in Nis. At the end, it was 50-50: The great run of Radnicki ended in Hamburg, where the hosts took full advantage of their much stronger squad and won 5-1. In Goteborg the host prevailed, but only in extra-time – the regulat time ended 1-1, there was no winner, so the extra-time started and only now the Swedes scored the golden goal.

IFK Goteborg vs Hamburger SV. No difficulty, predicting the outcome: IFK Goteborg was no match for the Germans, who seemingly learned their lesson in the semi-final and surely were not going to give any chance to rather accidental opponent. Easy to predict… and nothing to worry about. IFK Goteborg won at home 1-0, but the goal was scored in the 87th minute and such a minimal lead was not going to hold in Hamburg. One glance at the squads was enough to tell the final winner.

Final 1st Leg, Nya Ullevi, Göteborg, 5 May 1982, att 42548


IFK Göteborg (0) 1 Hamburger SV (0) 0

87′ 1-0 G: Tord Holmgren


IFK Göteborg

Wenersson; Svensson, Hysen, C.Karlsson, Fredriksson; Tord Holmgren, J.Karlsson,

Stromberg; Corneliusson, Nilsson (Sandberg 19), Tommy Holmgren (Schiller 46)

HAmburger SV

Stein; Kaltz, Jakobs, Hieronymus, Groh; Hartwig, Wehmeyer, Magath; Von Heesen

(Memering 82), Bastrup, Hrubesch

Referee: Carpenter (Ireland)

Naturally, the hosts got into focus even before the match begun, but the second leg was a big surprise. First, Corneliusson scored for IFK in the 26th minute. The second half started with IFK Goteborg leading by 2 goals. And it was 2-0 in the 61st minute, when Torbjorn Nilsson kicked the ball towards the German net.

Stein was unable to reach the ball and suddenly it was 3-0 for the Swedes.

That was practically the end – there was still half an hour to play, but Hamburger scoring 4 goals was unlikely.

4 goals… well, there were 4 goals: two minutes after Nilsson scored a penalty was given to IFK Goteborg and Fredriksson promptly scored the 4th goals for his team. End of story.

Final 2nd Leg, Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, 19 May 1982, att 60000


Hamburger SV (0) 0 IFK Göteborg (1) 3

26′ 0-1 G: Corneliusson

61′ 0-2 G: Nilsson

63′ 0-3 G: Fredriksson (pen)

IFK won 4-0 on aggregate


Hamburger SV

Stein; Kaltz (Hidien 75), Hieronymus, Groh, Wehmeyer; Hartwig, Memering, Magath, Von Heesen; Hrubesch, Bastrup

IFK Göteborg

Wenersson; Svensson; Hysen (Schiller 19), C.Karlsson, Fredriksson; Tord Holmgren, Stromberg, J.Karlsson; Corneliusson (Sandberg 67), Nilsson, Tommy Holmgren

Referee: Courtney (England)

What a victory!

Instantly IFK Goteborg was a big news – so unexpected was their success. Going against all odds – it was not a chancy win, extracted by cagy defensive football, full of vicious tackles. It was high-scoring brave kind of play.

Perhaps this was the finest squad of the Hamburger’s great period and that was why it was so surprising to see them lose. They were leading West German football and were more exciting than Bayern by far. Yet, international success was escaping them… Losing 0-3 at home was a bit too match, casting doubts not only of the team, but of West German football as a whole.

This victory instantly placed IFK Goteborg as number one Swedish club: Malmo FF lost finals, Goteborg got the UEFA Cup. The ascent of the team was noticed already, but nobody expected them climbing to the top of European football. IFK Goteborg reached the final without getting much attention and were the obvious losers against mighty Hamburger SV, but it was more than sweet victory of the underdog. The Swedes outplayed their opponents, destroying them at their own stadium in front of their own supporters. Against any odds. Of course, some players were already noticed around Europe, but this victory certainly established them – Hysen, Corneliusson, Stromberg, Nilsson, the new bright Swedish generation. And the mastermind behind the success also firmly established his name: Sven-Goran Eriksson. Important victory on many levels: a new talented generation proved its worth, lead by talented coach. It was entirely Swedish team – Malmo FF, which dominated the 1970s and became the first internationally successful club, was coached by Englishman. They represented an earlier generation, already stepping down – a generation, however, unable to conquer the football world. The new boys went higher already. The only problem – and very serious at that – was the future: no Swedish club was able to keep star players. Now the international market was getting larger with England and Italy eager to sign talent. Swedish players were going abroad for ages and no doubt the new stars would follow their predecessors: and they promptly did, including coach Eriksson. So, the old problem loomed again – wonderful winners, lovely team, but certainly a one-time wonder. Success was also destructive in the same time. IFK Goteborg had to enjoy the moment to the fullest, for there was not going to be anything like that again. Surely! How wrong was this certainty.


Cup Winners Cup

Cup Winners Cup. Terrible predicament for years – since most teams were weak, one had to keep fingers crossed the draw does not pair the stronger participants early. This year the draw was good: only Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax played against each other in the first round – Tottenham won both legs 3-1 and 3-0. The only upset in the first round was elimination of Glasgow Rangers by Dukla Prague. And almost an upset: Eintracht Frankfurt needed penalty shoot-out to eliminate PAOK Thessaloniki.

One more inevitable casualty in the second round – FC Porto eliminated Roma 2-0 and 0-0.

The quarter-finals were also good for the stronger teams – except for Standard Liege and FC Porto. The Belgians won 2-0 and 2-2. Eintracht Frankfurt, qualifying with difficulties so far, was blocked at last by Tottenham – 0-2 and 2-1.

The four semi-finalists were the best possible teams of this year’s lot. One cannot complain at this stage. Tottenhal Hotspur and Barcelona. 1-1 in London.

Simonsen scored the only goal in Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur was out.

Dinamo Tbilisi – Standard Liege. The most exciting Soviet team at the moment and current holders of the cup against bright, up and coming Belgian team. Which prevented the Georgians from having a chance for second Cup Winners Cup – Standard won both legs 1-0.

Tahamata gets away from Mudzhiri – a small difference perhaps, but amounting to winning and losing. The rules were getting lax too – note the add on Tahamata’s shirt. Prohibited at finals, but otherwise already OK to use them in the European cups.

Barcelona vs Standard. Big advantage for Barca – Barcelona was chosen to host the final. 100 000 attended – more than twice the crowd the European Champions final gathered. Mostly Barca supporters, of course. But it was also a battle of great coaches – Raymond Goethals vs Udo Lattek. Goethals gathered wonderful team. Lattek had already problems with his fellow countryman Bernd Schuster. Schuster was out of the final because of injury, though. Standard was without Dusbaba and Bodart (his absence for rather reason – it was either him or Preud’homme between the goalposts).

The match was not great… thanks to the Catalans, who displayed in full everything for what people hated Spanish football since the 1960s: dirty tackles, simulations, wasting time. Add some German grit infused by Lattek, especially in defense. Of course, there was a lot at stake – Barcelona did not reach European final since 1969 and did not win a cup since 1966 – but it was not a plausible excuse for such an ugly approach.

Barcelona was not exciting at all and with time Standard emerged as the much better team, but…

There was also the referee. No big mistakes, but his whistle benefited Barcelona. Standard opened the score in the 7th minute, thanks to Tahamata and Barcelona equalized just before the end of the first half – Simonsen in the 44th minute.

The second half was mostly Standard – except in the fatal 63rd minute. A free kick was called against Standard.

After which Quini scored the second goal for Barcelona. One must see the moment: the call was fair, but Barca players did not wait for the referee to whistle – the ball was quickly crossed to Quini and he scored. The surprised look in the eyes of Echweiller – he was about to organize the wall, players all around him, as they were caught by his marking the foul, nobody having time to take defensive position. The referee seemingly was going to take charge of the free kick, but the Catalans scored and he… just blew his whistle, acknowledging the goal. Belgian players protested, but seemingly resigned to the injustice – mostly expressed by Haan, not even bothering to start from the central circle after the goal, so Echweiller had to whistle again and put the game ‘in order’. The Belgians saw no order to be respected, though. Yet, they attacked to the end and unfortunately missed their chances. Then 2 minutes were left and something extraordinary happened – an ominous precursor of the disgrace showed by West Germany and Austria a month later at the World Cup. Quini talked to Carrasco and both positioned themselves with the ball at the right corner of the Belgian half of the field. There Quini passed to Carrasco from corner kick – may be a 30 centimeters pass – Carrasco placed the ball near the corner flag, keeping it from Belgian players with his body. The ball was mostly static, Belgian defenders had no chance of reaching it without fouling Carrasco, the referee whistles a free-kick, and the same begins anew. Meeuws pushed Carrasco a bit more, so he dropped dead and Meews was send off. Under the circumstances, there was a foul, no matter whether Meeuws wanted to commit it or not, but red card? Same referee was quite blind to vicious tackles before… Once Meeuws was out, Carrasco suddenly resurrected, only to die again in the next second, because Gerets breathed near to him. One more free kick, the ball still did not move from the flag. Until the final whistle. Barcelona won 2-1. Of course, it was great tactical decision – technically, Quini and Carrasco stayed into the frame of the rules: the ball moved just a bit, but moved. In the narrow space one can argue there was no room for the Catalans to move, blocked by eager to get the ball Belgians. And there is no rule saying how far the ball must go after a free-kick or a corner-kick – a small pass is still a pass. Yes, it was blatant and arrogant, and obvious killing of time. Yes, Quini and Carrasco were going to stay in this little corner to the end of the world, if necessary. Yes, the Belgian protested. But was for the referee to do – no rule was broken. Formally, it was fine and the only culprits would be Standard players, for, so close, there was no way to avoid collision with Carrasco. A great tactical decision, but also a huge disgrace to the sport. Did not matter at all to Barcelona and their supporters – they won!

Final, Nou Camp, Barcelona, 12 May 1982, att 100000


FC Barcelona (1) 2 Standard CL (Liège) (1) 1

7′ 0-1 S: Vandermissen

44′ 1-1 B: Simonsen

63′ 2-1 B: Quini


FC Barcelona

Urruti; Gerardo, Migueli, Alesanco, Manolo; Sanchez, Moratalla, Esteban;

Simonsen, Quini, Carrasco

Standard CL (Liège)

Preud’homme; Gerets, Poel, Meeuws, Plessers; Vandersmissen, Daerden, Haan,

Botteron; Tahamata, Wendt

Referee: Eschweiler (West Germany)

Red card: Meeuws 89

Barcelona got the Cup Winners Cup for the first time. Success at last. Not so well deserved, but a winner is a winner. Happy sea of Catalan supporters around, a moment of glory – do not tell them it was a crooked victory. Just leave it at that.

One may feel sorry for Standard – it was not entirely fair loss, but in the same time they missed a good many chances and were not very organized at times. Raymond Goethals gathered a wonderful team – a bunch of top Belgian players: Gerets, Meeuws, Vandersmissen, Preud’homme, Plessers, Daerden, complimented by experienced foreign stars: the usual Dutch stars, Haan and Tahamata (and Dusbaba in the reserves), one of the best Swiss players since 1975, Rene Botteron, and the Swedish international Wendt, who played for years in West Germany before joining Standard. There were solid reserves too – Bodart, Voordeckers, Semmeling, Dusbaba. Perhaps the most interesting was the evolution of Arie Haan – players often change positions as they age, but normally it is moving back – from attack to midfield or defense. Haan moved in the opposite direction – starting as, nominally, defensive midfielder with Ajax, he was moved back to central defender for the 1974 World Cup, then was a playmaker for Anderlecht, and now – a centre-forward for Standard. If there was a symbol of the great total football, it was Haan – he played any position and always shined. Too bad Standard lost this final and Haan was unable to add one more international cup to his collection, but there was perhaps something Standard was lacking – a strong playmaker. A man able to control the tempo and organize the attacks. At the final, the Belgians appeared a bit chaotic and their attacks were more spontaneous improvisations then well planned. Perhaps it would have been better if Haan was put in midfield to organize the team’s play.

To say that Barcelona was exciting team would be too much. They clinched a victory and that was all. Of course, they were strong and determined, but not the obvious and even less the deserving winner. But they won and it was a big success for the club, suffering disappointments for so many years. Even with Cruijff they won only 1 Spanish title and plain nothing internationally. It was great for the club, for the supporters, for the players – it was a squad full of stars: Migueli, Carrasco, Quini, Alesanco, Urruticoechea (still called with his full name at the time, although today one can hardly see anything but Urruti written). Only Alan Simonsen of this squad knew continental success and that was already years ago. Injured Bernd Schuster missed the moment of triumph, but it would be empty speculation to muse what would have been Barcelona with him: most likely, not very different. They played gritty football and depended too much on dirty tricks – Schuster would not have been able to transform deeply embedded tradition into something more interesting. Udo Lattek proved again he was a great winner, but there little evidence of his influence – coaching the team into great fitness and making them careful in defense, and adding constant pressuring was seemingly all he implanted from West German football. But it was not exactly radical for Spanish gritty fighters. Whatever he did, it clashed already with Schuster’s understanding of the game – and soon with Maradona’s too. Even after the big win it was quite obvious at Barcelona that the team was not truly great and needed additional spark, spur, and something more artistic. Hence, Maradona – which was also numbering the days of Lattek at the helm. Ironic, in a way, for the German coach brought the first international victory since 1966.

European Champions Cup

European Champions Cup. The draw was fine at first – the big teams, either in fact or by reputation had easy opponents. The only tough pairs: St. Etienne was eliminated in the preliminary round by Dynamo Berlin, 1-1 and 0-2, signaling the end of the long successful run of the French champions. In the first round Juventus eliminated Celtic 0-1 and 2-0. CSKA Sofia produced a minor surprise by eliminating Real Sociedad 1-0 and 0-0 – the Bulgarians played with hearth, but the Spanish champions were not the same class as Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Atletico Madrid.

The Bulgarian champions had very easy draw in the second round and now it was their turn to fret to the last second: they won the home leg against Northern Ireland’s Glentoran 2-0 and the job was seemingly done, but the Irish came back with a vengeance in the second leg, equalized the result and only a gola scored in the extra time qualified CSKA. Meantime, Anderlecht destroyed Juventus, full of still future world champions 3-1 and 1-1, Benfica lost to Bayern 0-0 and 1-4, and AZ’67 – to Liverpool 2-2 and 2-3. Aston Villa, having it easy at first (Valur Reykjavik), now had stronger opponent – Dynamo Berlin – and only an away goal propelled them to the quarter-finals: the English champions won 2-1 in East Berlin, but lost 0-1 in Birmingham.

Once again Lady Luck smiled at the big clubs: except Dinamo Kiev – Aston Villa, there was no other problematic pair and it looked like that three semi-finalists were known before any match was played. The Soviet clubs had problems with spring games for years – not only their season was just beginning, so their teams were not at their best form, but it was too cold to play at their home grounds and international matches were scheduled in Southern cities – Aston Villa managed a 0-0 tie in Simferopol, then easily won 2-0 in Birmingham. Anderlecht won both legs against Crvena zvezda 2-1 and 2-1. Bayern assured their win away in Craiova, where they beat their Romanian hosts Universitatea 2-0. The second leg was a formality and without pressure, it ended 1-1. So far – exactly as expected. And reigning cup holders Liverpool facing CSKA was perhaps the easiest pair on paper. Liverpool won 1-0 at home and the Bulgarians played surprisingly strong football. But Liverpool won and perhaps learned a lesson, so nothing strange so far. Except that CSKA eliminated Nottingham Forest the year before… after that, however, Liverpool utterly destroyed CSKA. Well, that was the last year – this time CSKA was more than a match for Liverpool, played very determined second leg, scored a goal, then one more, and Liverpool was out 0-2. Liverpool lost in overtime, but so what – they were out. A big surprise, making CSKA a killer of champions, for they eliminated so far three cup holders: Ajax in 1973, Nottingham Forest in 1980, and now – Liverpool.

The semi-finals provided little in terms of convenient opponents, but Bayern was lucky – they faced CSKA. Traditionally, West German teams won matches with Bulgarians. However, CSKA was in splendid form and Bayern was not as formidable as it used to be. The opening match in Sofia started shockingly for the West Germans: CSKA quickly scored 2 goals, Bayern managed to return one, but soon it was 1-3. At the end, with great effort, Bayern managed to lose 3-4 – the result still gave them a better chance, but it was extracted with great effort. Unlike Liverpool, Bayern learned and in the home leg steamrolled CSKA, winning 4-0. No schemes, just pushing for the most possible score – otherwise would have been too risky. In the other semi-final Aston Villa was praised in the British press for ‘discipline’ – they eliminated Anderlecht 1-0 and 0-0.

Bayern – Aston Villa. Exciting final – West Germans vs English, the leading nations in club football against each other. Bayern wanting to come back with a 4th Cup, Aston Villa never won European cup before. Given the squads, the bets were on the Germans. But that was on paper. And even more than paper – Aston Villa had a problem: Jimmy Rimmer, their regular goalkeeper and one of the few well known players in the team, suffered heavy injury, eventually driving him to retirement. It was not sure at all he would be able to play. But he stepped on the pitch in Rotterdam. The referee gave the start of the final and something amazing happened – such thing never happened before and was never repeated. In the 9th minute Aston Villa replaced Rimmer with his entirely unknown substitute Spink, who so far appeared only in a handful of matches. Since it was well known that Rimmer was with career threatening injury, it looked like that Aston Villa fielded him not to play, but only as a tribute to venerable veteran. It was something only an English club would do – to put aside the importance of a final, only to pay tribute to a player, risking a loss either by an easy early goal or because of wasting one of the two allowed substitutes. They were playing against the German machine Bayern, for God’s sake! Spink hardly had any experience and not even starting the match could have been a big liability. But the risk paid back: Aston Villa played great and Spink was very strong between the goalposts. As for Bayern, there was already known problem – the team was too mechanical. Good fighters, but without much of a spark. Breitner was by far the only player showing real class and imagination. Thus, to a point, Aston Villa benefited by the straight-forward German football – it was familiar game to the rather plain English team. Running, tackling, pushing ahead – that was the football Aston Villa played in the English league. More eager than the Germans, the English actually looked the more interesting team and gradually – the stronger one.

Rummenigge covered by Mortimer – the big star having the edge, as was expected.

May be so, but the unknown Spink was unshakeable and save whatever had to be saved.

Bayern knew very well the traditional English football, which Aston Villa played – and made sure no cross would ever reach the English center-forward.

But Aston Villa was not at all giving up – Augenthaler tries to attack here, only to be tackled immediately.

Aston Villa did not play defensive football at all, but attacked constantly and, with time, more dangerously than their opponents.

Until the 67th minute, when Peter with escaped from German police and scored.

The picture tells it all. And there was no other goal.

Final, Feyenoord Stadion, Rotterdam, 26 May 1982, att 46000


Aston Villa (0) 1 Bayern München (0) 0

67′ 1-0 AV: Withe


Aston Villa (trainer Barton)

Rimmer (Spink 9); Swain, Evans, McNaught, Williams; Bremner, Cowans, Mortimer; Shaw,Withe, Morley

Bayern München (trainer Csernai)

Muller; Dremmler, Weiner, Augenthaler, Horsmann; Mathy (Guttler 51), Breitner, Kraus Niedermayer 78), Dürnberger; Rummenigge, Hoeness

Referee: Konrath (France)

The best moment in life.

Deserving heroes – tired and happy. First ever European cup for Aston Villa and what a cup!

Losers, standing from left: Weiner, Horsmann, Augenthaler, Dieter Hoeness, Rummenigge, Breitner.

Crouching: Durnberger, Kraus, Muller, Mathy, Dremmler.

Let’s face it: this version was not equal to the great Bayern of the first half of the 1970s. Yes, bit stars and half the team knew the touch of the European Champions Cup, but… Durnberger, Horsmann, and Kraus were mostly reserves in the old team and never became stars. Augenthaler and Dremmler were not at their peak yet, Dieter Hoeness playing for Bayern was unthinkable in the days when his brother was playing, and 1982 was not Rummenigge’s year. Not a memorable performance at the final and apart from feeling sorry for Breitner, nothing else one can say.

The new European champions at their finest: standing from left: Withe, Blair, Spink, Heard, Shaw, McNaught, Evans, Mortimer, Rimmer.

First row: Geddis, Gibson, Cowans, Williams, Morley, Bremner, Swain.

On ane hand, a splendid victory of the underdog, but on the other – the English clubs dominated

European club tournaments for a long time, so one more victory was just a natural continuation. Aston Villa, however, was different – nothing like Nottingham Forest and especially Liverpool. It was a squad of underachievers – Jimmy Rimmer spent years as a second goalkeeper of Manchester Untied. Peter Withe also got old without making impression anywhere – he was even with Nottingham Forest a year or two ago. Of the rest, only after the final some players were recognized as potential stars – Dennis Mortimer, Des Bremner, Tony Morley, and particularly Gary Shaw. Players for the future, however… yes, they played for their countries a bit, even the approaching Peter with, but nobody developed into huge star. Collective play and discipline was their biggest quality and although this was their year, it was quite clear it was not going to be repeated – the team was not classy enough and the club did not have money to add big stars to the roster. This made their success even more pleasant, for it was a great display of courage and determination and also was fine tribute to some players: at last Jimmy Rimmer won international trophy, for instance. The big hero – and hero precisely of the underdog – was Nigel Spink. Perhaps his wonderful and brave performance at the European final propelled his career – a star he never became, but a respected goalkeeper – yes. It was very touchy – no matter was it intentional or accidental – to risk starting with injured goalkeeper and to substitute him after a few minutes, thus giving him a chance to be part of the European final and, after the final whistle, a rightful winner.

The pride of Birmingham and the team deserved it entirely! One more name added to the list of European champions.

European Player Of The Year

European player of the year. Deserves a comment – 19 players got points by the ranking of different journalists. Of them, only two did not play at the World Cup: Nilsson (1.FC Kaiserslautern, Sweden) and Schuster (Barcelona, West Germany). Six were champions of the world and 3 silver medalists at the World Cup. One may argue that some players deserved at least more and higher votes: Breitner and Tresor ended with 1 point, Gerets with 2 points, Platini with 5. Meantime Rummenigge had 47 – and was 5th in the final ranking. May be too much, but never mind. Bruno Conti was 4th with 48, Zbigniew Boniek – 3rd with 53, Alain Giresse – 2nd with 68. And number one, practically without any competition – Paolo Rossi with 115 points. The absolute maximum was 130 – so, the votes were overwhelmingly for him.

Number one – the best European this year.

Of course, World Cup performance always counts most and Rossi ended as world champion, top scorer, and best player of the finals. Remarkable, especially after considering that he missed about 2 years of football because of suspension.

Of course, Rossi was noted as great talent back at the1978 World Cup, so his development was only natural. He was a hero.

Heroes can also cook – if they are world champions and playing for very strong Juventus. But cooking should be taken here with more than a grain of salt. Such a massive voting for Rossi tells us he was fantastic player having fantastic season. Form the distance of time, it was just so… but bigger names did not win the award after a fantastic season, or win it, but with much fewer points. There were rivalries before, it was difficult to decide who was best, even if bias is discarded. This year only two voices differed: the Scotish and the Belgian voters. They argued that Rossi played only 3 great matches in the whole year. Which was… true. It was not steadily overwhelming performance – Rossi was voted number one thanks to the last three matches at the World Cup. That was all. Yes, he scored 6 goals in them, thus helping Italy to the title, but was he the most important player in the team? Hardly. Of course, every voting for ‘the best’ is suspect under close scrutiny, but, not only in my opinion, the voting for the European Player of the Year was questionable for quite some time – more or less, ever since 1975. Players got the award on reputation rather than performance, or just because they shined in few important games. The European and World finals overshadowed the rest of the season. Most often the fall did not count at all, voting concentrating on the spring, when the European cups finished. If the whole year was really taken into account, may be Platini, Gerets, Dassaev, Breitner, and Boniek had to get more points at the expense of Rossi. The voting was a bit sheepish, going after the hype and cooking clay giants. It is not to say Paolo Rossi was not a fine player, but that huge a star? Even in purely Italian context he was not. But voting is voting and he was number one. For myself, I preferred Rossi in 1978 – but nobody asked me, so there.

Intercontinental Cup

Toyota Cup – or the Intercontinental Cup. The new name did not capture the minds yet and actually never did, but one thing was already certain: the venue was comfortable enough for the Europeans and the date agreeable. Aston Villa vs Penarol. When one looks back, Penarol had more than the edge – unlike Aston Villa, they had much more well known names. But that could be only from the distance of time – at the real moment Europeans were familiar with the English squad, which was not particularly famous, but still had some newly discovered talent. May be that on paper, not so on the pitch – playing at the end of the year in Northern hemisphere theoretically favoured the English team. However, Penarol was on a roll: they won Copa Libertadores only a month earlier. And it showed.

Shaw was perhaps the most dangerous Villa striker, but Penarol was perhaps better prepared to battle an English team: the long Uruguayan tradition to play fearless physical and dirty kind of football quickly took away whatever advantage in strength Aston Villa had.

Aston Villa was ‘impotent’ in front of the net, according to El Grafico, but fair is fair: Penarol was determined to win and defended fought for every inch, to the last.

It was not just defensive play – Penarol attacked dangerously in every opportunity.

Jair shined – and made himself ‘discovered’.

He opened the result from a free kick in the 26th minute.

Walkir Silva made it 2-0 in the 67th minute. Some sources, including the international statisticians site, give Charrua as a scorer – at best, it could be Silva’s nickname, for there was player no with the name of the extinct aboriginal inhabitants of Uruguay on the pitch. Aston Villa was unable to return a goal and lost.


Luis Paulino Siles CRC, Chan Tam Sun HKG, Toshiakazu Sano JPN

63.000, National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan

1-0 Jair 27, 2-0 Silva 68


PEÑAROL: (Coach: Hugo Bagnulo)

Gustavo Fernández, Walter Olivera, Nelson Gutiérrez, Víctor Hugo Diogo, Miguel Bossio, Juan Vicente Morales, Venancio Ramos, Mario Saralegui, Fernando Morena, JAIR Gonçalves, Walkir Silva


ASTON VILLA: (Coach: Tony Burton)

Rimmer, Jones, Ken McNaught, Desmond Bremner, Williams, Evans, Mortimer, Cowans, Shaw, Peter Withe, Morley

The end – winners ready to celebrate.

Captain Walter Olivera lifts the Intercontinental Cup.

At the top of the world.

Jair got one more trophy too – the player of the game gets brand new Toyota.

The triumphal moment.

Penarol won its 3rd Intercontinental Cup, a great success.

Unfortunately, Aston Villa lost. Miracles cannot happen all the time – the team was no longer in the from which made them champions of England and Europe. To a point, Aston Villa overachieved and perhaps failed to build on their success. A good squad, but hardly extraordinary – no enough classy players to keep them on top for long. May be they were tired and preoccupied too – December is important and much demanding month in English football.

Kings of the world! Standing from left: Victor Hugo Diogo, Nelson Gutiérrez, Miguel Bossio, Walter Olivera, Juan Vicente Morales, Gustavo Fernández.

First row: Walkir Silva, Mario Saralegui, Fernando Morena, JAIR Gonçalves Prates, Venancio Ramos.

Fabulous year for Penarol – in their illustrious history that may not have been the most legendary squad, but certainly the season itself was one of their very finest. Champions of Uruguay, champions of South America, champions of the World. No doubt, due has to be paid to the man behind all that success: Víctor Hugo Bagnulo Fernández.

Nearly 70-years old Bagnulo (born 1915) was not all that well known internationally, but he was already a Penarol legend: he mastered the great Penarol of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the squad, which dominated the world – although, the fruits came under the guidance of Roberto Scarone. Bagnulo, however, was successful too – before 1983, he already made Penarol champions 4 times and qualified Uruguay for the 1974 World Cup (not the best campaign, so he was replaced before the finals). 1982 was the finest year of his career, winning everything possible with Penarol – just before retirement, so it was fantastic to end his career as a conqueror of the world.

Penarol had a good chance to become domineering team, if one considers what they had at the end of 1982 – but it was not to be, largely for economic reasons. Bagnulo retired, which was inevitable, but, if it was an European club, Penarol would have hired reinforcements right away – something impossible in Uruguay.

South American Player Of The Year

The South American player of the year. Essentially, the voting was battle between Zico and Maradona for some time – this year Maradona (Barcelona, Spain) was voted 3rd, Falcao (Roma, Italy) – 2nd, and Zico number 1.

Introducing Zico would be ridiculous by now, so instead of words a few pictures (not all from 1982) will suffice:

The sacred number 10 not yet given to him – Rivelino had it at the time of the photo.

A failed free kick, but still spectacular.

Celebrating a goal with Socrates – what a pair!

The ‘White Pele’ posing after scoring 500 goals – half of  record of the greatest one.

Zico won its 3rd continental award this year, thus emerging ahead of Maradona, who had been number one twice at the moment, and equalizing the record of Elias Figueroa. Two factors played a role: Brazil was very impressive at the World Cup – and Argentina was not – and Flamengo won the Brazilian championship. Meanwhile, Maradona struggled both with the national team of Argentina and with his new club Barcelona. Zico was greater than Maradona, as it appeared, but, unfortunately, he was much older than his rival and given the fact he was present since 1971 in professional football and nicknamed after Pele for years, success came a bit late – the star was aging. This turned out to be his last number one award. As for the award itself, it was still run by its founder – it may be strange, since South America had such famous publications as El Grafico (Argentina) and Placar (Brazil), but the Venezuelan newspaper El Mundo (Caracas) was behind the award and there will be quite a few years before the Uruguayan El Pais (Montevideo) took over. And there was a bit of controversy: today the ranking above is the established truth, but back in real time not so – the Soviet weekly Football-Hockey reported in its first issue for 1983 something different: Zico – 1st with 301 points, Maradona – 2nd with 296, Fernando Morena – 3rd, Socrates – 4th, and Passarella -5th. No Falcao at all. May be another unofficial voting? Who knows.

Copa Libertadores

Copa Libertadores. Lady Luck played a joke this year, mostly affecting the second round of the tournament. Yet, considering the state of some famous clubs, the role of the draw may not had been decisive factor. Flamengo qualified directly to the second round as current cup holders. Argentina and Bolivia were in group 1 – easy for the gauchos, one may think. There was some irregularity in the opening match between The Strongest and River Plate, for the hosts won 1-0, but the points were awarded to River Plate. However, everything settled back to the normal in the second leg: River destroyed their visitors. One Jose Pekerman scored the only goal for the Bolivians. River Plate sailed easily throw the preliminary group, but not so Boca Juniors – they lost their matches in Bolivia, they were unable to beat Jorge Wilstermann at home, and the derby with River Plate went against them. Boca was eliminated, the only real surprise in the first phase of the tournament.

1.River Plate (Buenos Aires) 6 5 1 0 9- 2 11

2.The Strongest (La Paz) 6 2 1 3 6- 7 5

3.Boca Juniors (Buenos Aires) 6 1 2 3 3- 5 4

4.Jorge Wilstermann (Cochabamba) 6 1 2 3 5- 9 4

Group 2 was the toughest and, to a point, unfair, because Brazil and Uruguay were in it. Defensor (Montevideo) was the obvious outsider, but only one of Sao Paulo, Gremio, and Penarol was to go ahead. As it happened, the Brazilian clubs struggled, Defensor played bravely, and Penarol was the strongest, losing only one match – visiting Gremio, 1-3. Gremio had a good chance to take the second place, for they played the last group match at home against already bottom placed Defensor – but the outsiders won 2-1. Yet, the match did not matter – the Brazilians were already out.

1.Peñarol (Montevideo) 6 4 1 1 7- 3 9

2.São Paulo FC 6 2 2 2 7- 6 6

3.Grêmio (Porto Alegre) 6 1 3 2 6- 6 5

4.Defensor (Montevideo) 6 1 2 3 4- 9 4

Group 3. Colombia and Venezuela. The most predictable group and no matter how well or bad the teams played, the expected became a reality.

1.Tolima (Ibagué) 6 3 3 0 9- 3 9

2.Atlético Nacional (Medellín) 6 3 2 1 6- 4 8

3.Estudiantes (Mérida) 6 1 2 3 3- 7 4

4.Táchira (San Cristóbal) 6 0 3 3 2- 6 3

Group 4. Chile and Ecuador, the Chileans were favourites, of course, and did not falter. Perhaps the only sign of what could happen later flashed in the very last group match – Cobreloa hosted the second leg with Colo-Colo and won 2-0. The result was crucial for the first place – before it, Cobreloa was a point behind. Colo-Colo needed just a tie and having been historically the stronger club, it was perhaps expected that they would manage to go ahead. But Cobreloa had entirely point of view.

1.Cobreloa (Calama) 6 3 3 0 9- 2 9

2.Colo Colo (Santiago) 6 3 2 1 8- 5 8

3.LDU (Quito) 6 1 2 3 8-12 4

4.Barcelona (Guayaquil) 6 1 1 4 8-14 3

Group 5. Peru and Paraguay, the second toughest group in the first stage. Olimpia was more or less the favourite and did not disappoint. Deportivo Municipal was the worst team at this stage – they lost all matches.

1.Olimpia (Asunción) 6 4 2 0 12- 3 10

2.Mariano Melgar (Arequipa) 6 4 0 2 9-10 8

3.Sol de América (Asunción) 6 2 2 2 9- 8 6

4.Deportivo Municipal (Lima) 6 0 0 6 3-12 0

Second stage, serving also as semi-final. The five group winners and Flamengo, divided into 2 round-robin groups, the winners going to the final. Here happened the worst: Flamengo, Penarol, and River Plate made Group 1. Group 2 was inferior. Yet, the expected tough, close, possibly entangled into equal points race did not happened – River Plate, seemingly very strong in the first stage, was just a punching bag now – they lost every match they played, leaving the fight to Penarol and Flamengo. Penarol was 2 points ahead before the last game – which was in Rio de Janeiro, unfortunately. Flamengo needed a win and was expected to win, but Penarol was not at all ready to go out: they won 1-0 and finished first with perfect record.

1.Peñarol (Montevideo) 4 4 0 0 8- 3 8

2.Flamengo (Rio de Janeiro) 4 2 0 2 7- 4 4

3.River Plate (Buenos Aires) 4 0 0 4 5-13 0

Group 2 was expected to be a race between two clubs – the Colombians, Tolima, did not count. The program worked for that too – the last two group matches were between Cobreloa and Olimpia. Olimpia made no mistake in the match before the big clash: they won at home 2-0 against Tolima and lead the group with 3 points. Cobreloa had 2. The first match was in Asincion and Cobreloa managed a 1-1 tie, which did change their position in the table, but there was still a game and Cobreloa was the host – only win was getting them to the final and they achieved it – 2-0.

1.Cobreloa (Calama) 4 2 1 1 5- 2 5

2.Olimpia (Asunción) 4 1 2 1 4- 3 4

3.Tolima (Ibagué) 4 1 1 2 2- 6 3

The final – between one of the most successful South American clubs and a team from a country which never won Copa Libertadores, but also the team which played at the previous year final. The winners of 1982 were out, but the losing finalist of 1982 was again at the final. May be this time they would be successful. Naturally, Penarol had their own ambitions, especially because the last time they reached the final was in the distant 1970 and they won the cup for last time long time before their last final: in 1966. So, old power versus a maverick club, which emerged from the lower leagues only a few years ago. Interestingly, good luck was still with Cobreloa – so far, they played their last and decisive matches at home. The final went the same way – the opening leg was in Montevideo. And Cobreloa had much to smile after the last whistle.

1st leg. Centenario, Montevideo, 26-11-1982


Peñarol – Cobreloa 0-0


Peñarol: G. Fernández, W. Olivera, N. Gutiérrez, V. Diogo, Bossio, J.V. Morales,

V. Ramos, Saralegui, F. Morena, Jair Gonçalves, W. Silva (D. Rodríguez).

Cobreloa: Wirth, Soto, E. Gómez, Tabilo, Alarcón, Escobar, Letelier, Merello (Puebla), Siviero, R. Gómez, W. Olivera (Rubio).


Referee: Assis de Aragão (Brazil)

Attendance: 55,248

Cobreloa had the edge, but nothing was certain – many finals were decided by a third match, including the very final Cobreloa played in 1981. By names, Penarol had the stronger squad. Cobreloa, however, was perfect precisely in their last, all-decisive matches at home. Hard to tell… and hard it was on the field.


It was 0-0 one minute before the final whistle and a third match was to be played… when Penarol scored.

And from another angle:

Fernando Morena delivered, as he did so many times – but may be there was no goal like this one in his long career: 1-0 in the midst Santiago, just before the final whistle. A golden goal, giving Copa Libertadores to Penarol. The struggle was over, the match was over.

2nd leg. Estadio Nacional, Santiago, 30-11-1982


Cobreloa – Peñarol 0-1

89′ Morena 0-1


Cobreloa: Wirth, E. Gómez, Soto, Tabilo (Martínez), Alarcón, Escobar, Rubio,

Merello, Siviero, R. Gómez, W. Olivera (Letelier).

Peñarol: G. Fernández, V. Diogo, N. Gutiérrez, W. Olivera, J.V. Morales, Bossio,

Saralegui, Vargas, Jair Gonçalves, F. Morena, Ramos (D. Rodríguez).


Referee: Romero (Argentina)

Attendance: 70,400

Walter Olivera received Copa Libertadores.

And what more deserving picture of the two legends – Walter Olivera and Fernando Morena – holding the Cup. Their first. At last.

One can feel sorry for Cobreloa – brave season, only to lose at the last minute. And losing the big final for second year in a row… And by a single goal… Tough. But Cobreloa, as good as they were, lacked big names in their squad and in South America personalities often counted more than collective play.

Penarol won their 4th Copa Libertadores and their first since 1966. The long wait was over, they were again kings of South America, they went ahead of Nacional after trailing them on the internacional stage after 1970, and finally the great stars of this era – Olivera and Morena – won a really big trophy. And there was something more: Nacional won Copa Libertadores in 1980, but their squad was pretty much made of old, nearing the end of their careers, players. Penarol had much promising squad – Walter Olivera, Fernando Morena, and Juan Morales were aging, but behind them were younger players, still rising stars – Victor Diogo, Nelson Gutierez, Gustavo Fernandez, Miguel Bossio, Walter Silva, Verancio Ramos, Mario Saralegui, and the Brazilian striker Jair Gonsalves. It was clear, that the club would not be able to keep most of them for long – and it did not – but the group was big enough to provide for continual success. These players defined Uruguayan football in 1980s, as it happened – they just established their names in 1982. Considering the difficulties the Uruguayan football had at this time, the future of Penarol was quite good – especially when compared to Nacional’s. Considering the difficulties the Uruguayan football had, one may say that Penarol was not particularly great team – and here personalities must be noticed: Penarol had individuals able to make a difference, to win a game alone, if necessary – Morena just scored a winning goal, for instance – and Cobreloa had no similar players. The whole difference between 0-0 and 1-0, the whole difference between winning a cup and losing again a final.


Brazil First Division

Taca de Ouro. 40 teams started the championship – 2 directly qualified: the champions of 1981 Gremio (Porto Alegre) and the winners of 1981 Taca de Prata Guarani (Campinas). The other 38 were teams selected by their previous year positions, but according to the berths of each Brazilian state. Sao Paulo had the most berths – 6, followed by Rio de Janeiro – 5, and most states with traditionally insignificant football had 1 berth each. Some strange clubs appeared because of that – perhaps the strangest came from Sao Paulo, for they were ranked higher than famous Corinthians which had to start in the lower level: Internacional (Limeira) and XV de Novembro (Jau). Other hardly ever heard of clubs were Internacional (Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul), Gremio Maringa (Maringa, Parana), Taguatinga (Brasilia, Distrito Federal), Desportiva (Cariacica, Espirito Santo), Itabaina (Itabaina, Sergipe). The bulk started the first phase and in the second phase 4 teams, qualified from Taca de Prata joined as well to make the total of participants 44.

The most confusing to outside observer was the first phase: it was played in 8 groups of 5 teams each. The top three teams qualified to the next round. Fourth placed went to direct elimination play-offs , the winners qualifying to the next stage and the losers going down to continue in Taca de Prata. The last team in every group was relegated to continue in Taca de Prata. The first stage sifted out the small clubs, so no surprises happened – except in group F, where Vitoria (Salvador, Bahia) finished last. The rest of the relegated were Nacional (Manaus, Amazonas), Ferroviario (Fortaleza, Ceara), Itabaina (Itabaina, Sergipe),

Mixto (Cuiaba, Mato Grosso), Taguatinga (Brasilia, Distrito Federal), Joinville (Joinville, Santa Catarina), and Internacional (Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul).

The play-offs finished the first phase: Paysandu eliminated America 3-1, Nautico – CSA 6-2, Cruzeiro – Desportiva 1-0, and Londrina and Goias were 0-0, but Londrina qualified due to better group record. Goias was perhaps unlucky, but the only relatively big name eliminated here was America (Natal, Rio Grande de Norte). Thus 28 clubs proceeded to the second phase – the top 3 of the original 8 groups plus the play-off winners. Meanwhile Taca de Prata played two phases and the top 4 of the second phase qualified to Taca de Ouro, rounding the numbers to 32: America (Rio de Janeiro), Corinthians (Sao Paulo), Atletico Paranaense (Curitiba), and Sao Paulo (Rio Grande).

Second phase – 8 groups of 4 teams each, The top 2 qualifying for the next round and the rest eliminated for this year. Half the the teams finished their national championship at this stage – small fry largely, but also some bigger names.

America (Rio de Janeiro) – 3rd in group J,

Treze (Campina Grande, Paraiba) – 4th in group O,

Moto Clube (Sao Luis, Maranhao) – 4th in group Q,

Atletico Paranaense (Curitiba) – 4th in group P.

Paysandu (Belem, Para) – 4th in group M,

Atletico Mineiro – 3rd in group L,

Internacional (Porto Alegre) – 4th in group L,

Botafogo – 3rd in group O. Add Cruzeiro – 3rd in group Q. Some groups were tougher than others, of course, but there were some big failures – Botafogo, surely.

It was simple and clear cup format from this stage to the end: direct elimination or knockouts. The opponents met twice and in case of no winner, whoever had a better record in the second phase qualified. Away goals did not count for deliberation. Here ended the 1982 campaign for Operario (Campo Grande, Mato Grosso), Sao Jose (Sao Jose do Campos, Sao Paulo), Ceara, Londrina (Londrina, Minas Gerais),

Anapolina (Anapolis, Goias)

Bahia (Salvador, Bahia),

Standing from left: Pais. Marião. Ailton. Betão. Paulo Omar, Merica.

First row: João Carlos. Edson.  Roberto Cearense, Givanildo, Joãozinho.

Sport (Recife, Pernambuco), and

Vasco da Gama.

The quarter-finals were the end of the road for



Sao Paulo, and Bangu. Bangu was the only unlucky team – all others lost fair and square, but Bangu and Corinthians exchanged away victories: Corinthinas won 1-0 at Rio, and Bangu – 2-1 at Sao Paulo. Fair, not fair… the rules stipulated that in such a case not away goals, no goal-gifference, no penalty shoot-out, or a play-off decided the winner, but the records of the previous round: Corinthians had a better one and went ahead.

The semi-finals reached familiar names, so when the dust settled, when all preliminary stages were played nothing unusual really happened: small clubs from obscure states had no chance of winning the championship. The big clubs still dominated and, since they were many, momentary lack of form of a weak squad would eliminate some, but still others will step up – as a whole, there was no major shaking of the established order. Under the surface it was a bit different: Gremio and Flamengo was strong at the time and more or less favourites since 1980. The other two came from Taca de Prata, the lower level. Guarani won Taca de Prata in 1981 and was promoted thanks to that. Corinthians underperformed big time in the previous season and could not get a spot in the big Sao Paulo quota. Socrates and company started the 1982 season in the lower level – they emerged from there thanks to the rules and were great after that. Yet, still coming from bellow – so, the semi-finals reached 2 of the top teams of the time plus 2 technically second level teams. And when the games were played, the top teams won quite confidently: Gremio beat Corinthians 2-1 and 3-1, and Flamengo – Guarani 3-2 and 2-1.

How to judge Corinthians? They reached the semi-finals and were quite the talk both at home and abroad. A team lead by Socrates, with whom the whole world fell in love in this very year, and having Ze Maria, Casagrande, Zenon, Biro-Biro, Wladimir was surely one to go far. A champion squad, considering that Brazilian teams hardly had more than 4-5 outstanding players. But it was also unbalanced team – the strikers were wonderful, but it was not so in defense. Perhaps that was why they lost. On the other hand, to start the season and second division and to end it close to winning the national title was remarkable.

Standing from left: Wendell, Jaime, Júlio César, Ariovaldo, Edson, Almeida

First row: Lucio, Hernani, Careca, Jorge Mendonça, Capitão.

Judging by the players here, it was not difficult to understand why they reached the semi-finals this year, but rather why they were in the second division the previous one. Wendell was hardly heard of after 1973 when he was tried in the national team, but surely was among the better Brazilian goalkeepers with plenty of experience. Mendonca, Hernani, Edson, Careca.. an interesting team. May be too young and in need of experience – if able to keep the stars, of course. But wonderful season anyway.

And the final opposed the strongest Brazlian teams of this time – Flamengo and Gremio. It was their time, both teams playing great domestically and internationally, at their peak. Flamengo hosted the opening leg of the final, but it ended in a 1-1 tie. Zico scored for Flamengo and Tonho for Gremio.

No goals at all in second leg, played in Porto Alegre. A third match… and only now there was a winner. Nunes scored the only goal, giving the victory to Flamengo. Nunes was becoming rapidly a club legend: a master of scoring crucial goals.

Of course, it is disappointing to lose even minimally, but Gremio did very well and second place was still a success and something to be proud of. Of course, to win a second title would have been better, but champions in 1981 and 2nd in 1982 – nothing to complain, really. Leao, Batista, Renato, Paulo Isidoro, Baltazar, the strong Uruguayan defender De Leon – Gremio were perhaps the best rounded team in Brazil, having excellent players in every line. Of course, the temper of Leao was a liability – more in the dressing and board rooms than on the pitch – but still Gremio looked better and deeper team than any other.

Flamengo won it second national title – success came slowly for the most popular club of the country: their first national victory was only in 1980, but after frustrating decade they were finally on top, obviously determined to stay there. Actually, in only 3 years they climbed to 2nd position in the all-time table – only Internacional (Porto Alegre) had more titles than them – 3. Flamengo shared 2nd place with Palmeiras, both with 2 titles – but where was Palmeiras now? In the second division. Their last title was in 1973, whereas Flamengo was fresh winner. Leandro, Raul, Junior, Tita, Nunes, Andrade… strong team, no doubt. But they had Zico too. May be less well-rounded squad than Gremio’s, but if not better, then fairly equal and with a genius like Zico any difference could be easily evaporated. A team at its peak, though – nothing momentary or just lucky about their title. Well deserved and even promising, for surely this team was ready to win more and soon.

Brazil Second Division

Second division – Taca de Prata. 46 teams took part in the second level championship – 36, divisded into 6 groups started. The 12 teams, last in the first phase of Taca de Ouro, joined Taca de Prata in its 3rd phase. The group winners in the second phase moved up to continue in the second phase of Taca de Ouro. Strange rules and structure – the winner of Taca de Ouro promoted to first level for the next year, but group winners of the second stage of the same championship going up in the same year, but there was some common sense: a glance at the participants in the second level reveals many familiar names. Familiar, but traditionally second-rate clubs. But the national championship gave quota to all Brazlilian states and they were very different when it came to football – thus, inevitably, obscure clubs started in the top level and well known clubs, mostly from Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais, were in the second level – since they were stronger than many of the top level starters, it made sense to give them a chance to compete at top level. If they were able to qualify. On the other hand, common sense was running thin – it was possible a team starting in second level to finish the year as Brazilian champion. The system catered largely to the big clubs, carrying tons of clout, but the first cracks appeared: poor performance in the previous season put Palmeiras in the second level.

They started in Group D with Anápolis FC (Anápolis-GO), CA Juventus (São Paulo-SP), CE Operário Varzeagrandense (Várzea Grande-MT), Vila Nova FC (Goiânia-GO), and Volta Redonda FC (Volta Redonda-RJ). And finished 4th… since only the top 2 teams of each first phase group qualified for the next stage, Palmeiras was out. Clout or no clout, performance was the measure. Couldn’t blame anybody, but themselves.

Others early finishers were not at the same level of fame.

4th in Group B

Comercial (Campo Grande, MS) was 5th in Group E. To a point, some early losers ring a bell, but only that – nothing like Palmeiras.

The second phase reached Tiradentes (Teresina, PI), Fortaleza (Fortaleza, CE) – group A; Campinense (Campina Grande, PB), CRB (Maceio, AL) – group B; America (Rio de Janeiro, RJ), Corinthians (Sao Paulo, SP) – group C; Vila Nova (Goiania, GO), Volta Redonda (Volta Redonda, RJ) – group D; Campo Grande (Rio de Janeiro, RJ), Uberaba (Uberaba, MG) – group E; and Atletico Paranaense (Curitiba, PR), Sao Paulo (Rio Grande, RS) – group F. So far, Socrates was moving ahead, unlike Luis Pereira. Weird seeing such names in the second division? Well, that was why the second stage had direct promotion.

Four groups of 3 teams each. The last placed – eliminated, the 2nd placed going to the next stage, and the winners moving up to play in the Second phase of Taca de Ouro. The winners were: America – group G, Corinthians – Group H, Sao Paulo – group I, and Atletico Paranaense – group J. No more second level football for Socrates.

And no more football for the losers: Campinense – group H,

CRB – group G,

Vila Nova – group I, and Volta Redonda – group J.

Going to the 1/8 finals: Tiradentes – group G, Fortaleza – group H, Uberaba – group I, and Campo Grande – group J. The rest of the 1/8-finalists came from first level – 12 eliminated after the first phase clubs, the best known of them Goias (Goiania), Vitoria (Salvador), America (Natal), Joinville (Joinville, and CSA (Maceio). The mix seemingly benefited the clubs coming from the higher level, if only by sheer quantity. But the second level teams performed remarkably well.

Only Fortaleza was eliminated – by CSA: 0-2 and 1-1. Meantime, most of the better known clubs were eliminated too: Vitoria, Goias, America.

The second level kept strong in the ¼ finals as well.

Only Tiradentes was eliminated – by Joinville: 0-1 and 2-2.

The semi-finals opposed half of the second level 1/8 finalists to the remains of the higher level clubs, but luck had it teams of the same level played against other. Campo Grande comfortably eliminated Uberaba – 4-0 and 2-0. Joinville and CSA exchanged 2-1 home victories and the ¼ finals records were the decisive factor: CSA had a better one and went to the final.

CSA won at home the opening leg of the final 4-3. Campo Grande won the second leg 2-1. No away-goals rule, no penalty shoot-out – the winner had to be decided in a third match, as was most common in South America. And this time Campo Grande was supreme, winning 3-0, and Taca de Prata with that.

CSA – the popular abbreviation of Centro Sportivo Alegoano – from Maceio lost a trophy. Given the peculiar structure, it is almost impossible to evaluate such a loss: apart from the trophy itself, the winner largely benefited from direct promotion to Taca de Ouro – the very top level tournament CSA started the season in. The state of Alagoas had 1 spot in Taca de Ouro and technically CSA was automatically with the best record of previous season – their main rival, CRB, started 1982 in the second level and was eliminated there earlier than CSA on top of it. As far as state championships played any role in determining Taca de Ouro participants, CSA won the championship of Alagoas for a third consecutive year. Most likely CSA were bitter only because they lost a trophy – otherwise winning or losing had no practical importance.

Not so for the winners.

May be winning a second championship, but for Campo Grande it was huge success – they were small Rio de Janeiro club surrounded by giants. With Flamengo, Botafogo, Vasco da Gama, Fluminense next door, not only winning anything was traditionally out of reach – even dreaming of winning was close to lunacy. Even dreaming of getting a spot in Taca de Ouro was a lunacy – Rio de Janeiro had 5 berths and assuming that Campo Grande had unusually strong year and some of the big clubs a weaker one there was almost no chance to get a berth: behind the famed big ones lurked still well known and much bigger than Campo Grande clubs – America, Bangu, Volta Redonda, the list could easily go on. Winning Taca de Prata meant success on a truly large scale – Campo Grande secured a place at the top level. A great season for club, players, fans. One to be remembered.


Brazil. The most complicated championship in the world… Two levels, which more or less amounts to First and Second divisions, competed for two separate trophies and were named after them: Taca de Ouro – roughly corresponding to the first division championship elsewhere, and Taca de Prata – roughly, the second division. 44 teams played in Taca de Ouro. Two of them had easily understood right to participate: the winners of the championship in the previous years – Gremio (Porto Alegre) and the winners of the second level in 1981 – Guarani (Campinas) – promoted to the first level. The rest were selected by state quotas and previous year records. May be for the first time after the Brazilian national championship was created big club was out of first level, having to play in the second division: Palmeiras, Corinthians. However, there was a bit of mystery as ever in Brazil: Sao Paulo had 6 berths – the most of any state. And here the qualified teams are, filling these berths:

Associação Atlética INTERNACIONAL (Limeira)

Associação Atlética PONTE PRETA (Campinas)

Esporte Clube XV DE NOVEMBRO (Jaú)

SANTOS Futebol Clube (Santos)

SÃO PAULO Futebol Clube (São Paulo)

SÃO JOSÉ Esporte Clube (São José dos Campos)

Corinthians is not among them – according to statistical notes on the championship. But they played in Taca de Ouro.

Rules stipulated relegation after the first group stage – the last placed in every group was relegated to continue the season in second division championship. That meant 8 teams joined Taca de Prata at the third stage of it – or 1/8 finals. Complicated, but comprehensive so far? Mm… Taca de Ouro had 8 groups of 5 teams each at the starting point: 40 teams. According to original state berths – 38 teams, plus the 1981 winners of Taca de Ouro and Taca de Prata – 2, the numbers are right: 40. The final table of the year lists 44 teams. Enjoy the mysteries of Brazilian football – what was the point of winning Taca de Prata, if one could join top level without going that far.

The winner of Taca de Prata is promoted to Taca de Ouro for the next year. Fine. 36 clubs started Taca de Prata, divided into 6 groups. The top 2 of each group moved to the second stage: 4 groups of 3 teams each. Winners of these groups moved to join Taca de Ouro’s current championship in its second phase. Those were America (Rio de Janeiro), Atletico Paranaense (Curitiba), Sao Paulo (Rio Grande), and Corinthians (Sao Paulo). Well, the winner of Taca de Prata would wait to join first level in the next year, but mere second stage winners of the same tournament moved up right away, having a very realistic chance to become champions of Brazil after starting the season in the second division. Funny. But what about the relegated teams – 8 of them went to finish the season in the lower level. Since participants in the top level were selected according to berths given to every state, relegation and final table did not make much sense: those 8 relegated teams could be eliminated quickly in the second level too and still appear in the top level the next year. The puzzle may be solved or may be not… meantime, football was played slowly, almost endlessly, meandering from stage to stage.

Just for informational sake, take a look few of the unlucky clubs not playing in the top national tournaments. In there home states, they were fairly well known and quite strong traditionally – yet, just a small sample of the fantastic number of Brazilian clubs, playing in the state championships, but not able – at least for the moment – the national championships.

Botafogo Utinga

Not to be confused with Comercial (Campo Grande), playing in the second level championship.

Standing from left: Brandão, Nino, Édson, Miro, Nezinho, Lucas.

First row: Silvio, Dorival, Daniel, Guto, Oliveira.

Uniao Sao Joao


Perhaps some ring a bell, perhaps not, but Coritiba (Curitiba) must be familiar name. If Palmeiras (Sao Paulo) suffered in the second level, Coritiba was entirely out of the picture. One may think Brazilian football was beginning to clean itself from favoritism, making first steps to fairness… Better be skeptical.