Copa America. Finals



Semifinals and finals. Paraguay joined the three group winners, having to defend its title against Brazil. Tough luck.

Gustavo Adolfo BENÍTEZ Olimpia

Roberto CABAÑAS New York Cosmos (USA)

Rogelio Wilfrido DELGADO Olimpia

Roberto Eladio FERNÁNDEZ Cerro Porteño

Darío FIGUEREDO Cerro Porteño

Aldo FLORENTÍN Cerro Porteño

Pedro GARAY Sol de America

Ramón Ángel María HICKS Libertad

Justo Pastor JACQUET Cerro Porteño

Alfredo Damián MENDOZA Cerro Porteño

Fidel MIÑO Olimpia

Víctor Milcíades MOREL Libertad

Carlos OLMEDO Libertad

Julio César ROMERO New York Cosmos (USA)

Oscar SURIÁN Libertad

Juan Bautista TORALES Libertad

Coach: Ramón RODRÍGUEZ


Paraguay hold its ground and both legs ended in a tie. But… Brazil scored a goal away and thanks to the rule of away goals qualified to the final. Paraguay at least surrendered the title unbeaten.

13.10.83 Asunción, Defensores del Chaco


PAR – BRA 1:1 (0:0)


(55,000) Gastón Castro CHI


PAR: Fernández – Figueredo, Surián, Delgado, Torales – Benítez (Olmedo), Florentín,

Romero, Hicks (Miño) – Morel, Mendoza

BRA: Leão – Paulo Roberto, Márcio, Mozer, Junior – Andrade, Jorginho, Tita (Renato), Renato Gaúcho – Careca, Éder


1:0 Morel 70, 1:1 Éder 88

BRA – PAR 0:0


(75,000) Juan Carlos Loustau ARG


BRA: Leão – Leandro, Mozer, Junior, Márcio – Andrade, Jorginho, Renato (Tita), Renato Gaúcho (Careca) – Roberto Dinamita, Éder

PAR: Fernández – Surián, Delgado, Torales, Benítez – Jacquet, Romero, Olmedo, Morel

(Mendoza (Garay)) – Florentín, Cabañas


sent off: Andrade (79) / Cabañas (79)

Uruguay decided the outcome of the other semi-final when visiting – they won in Peru.

13.10.83 Lima, Nacional


PER – URU 0:1 (0:0)


(28,000) Sergio Vásquez CHI


PER: Acasuzo – Duarte, Requena, Aguayo, Díaz – Olaechea, Velásquez, Reyna (73 Casanova) -Muñoz (58 Malásquez), Navarro, Caballero

URU: Rodríguez – Diogo, Gutiérrez, Acevedo, Agresta – González, Barrios, Cabrera – Aguilera (80 Saralegui), Francéscoli, Acosta (77 Ramos)


0:1 Aguilera 65 (79 Rodríguez saved a penalty from Navarro)

20.10.83 Montevideo, Centenario


URU – PER 1:1 (0:1)


(58,000) Arturo Ithurralde ARG


URU: Rodríguez – Diogo, Gutiérrez, Acevedo, Agresta – González, Barrios, Cabrera – Aguilera (75 Saralegui), Francéscoli, Acosta (71 Ramos)

PER: Acasuzo – Duarte, Requena, Aguayo, Díaz – Olaechea, Velásquez, Leguía – Malásquez, Navarro, Caballero


0:1 Malásquez 24 h, 1:1 Cabrera 49 h


sent off: Saralegui (85) / Duarte (85)

And that was how Uruguay and Brazil reached the final. More or less, it was described already, so just statistics:

27.10.83 Montevideo, Centenario


URU – BRA 2:0 (1:0)


(65,000) Héctor Ortiz PAR


URU: Rodríguez – Diogo, Gutiérrez, Acevedo, Agresta – González, Barrios, Cabrera – Aguilera

(85 Bossio), Francéscoli, Acosta (75 Ramos)

BRA: Leão – Leandro, Márcio, Mozer, Junior – China (60 Tita), Jorginho, Renato – Renato

Gaúcho, Roberto Dinamita, Éder


1:0 Francéscoli 41 f, 2:0 Diogo 80

Earlier it was said that 3 goals were scored in this game – and it is true, to a point. In the 40th minute Francescoli scored, but strangely the referee called for a free kick. Francescoli scored from it – so, there were three goals, but the first was disallowed and thus opening an opportunity for another goal by the same scorer. It was very strnage call and not the only one – later in the game the referee practically did not allow Brazil to score when Uruguayan defender stopped Brazilian striker from going alone to the net by grabbing him with his hands and simply throwing him down. There was no card… nothing.

That’s Francescoli’s goal the referee disallowed – it was perfect advantage, but the man preferred to call a free kick for earlier foul.

04.11.83 Salvador, Fonte Nova


BRA – URU 1:1 (1:0)


(95,000) Edison Pérez PER


BRA: Leão – Paulo Roberto, Márcio, Mozer, Junior – China, Jorginho, Sócrates – Tita

(77 Renato Gaúcho), Roberto Dinamita (43 Careca), Éder

URU: Rodríguez – Diogo, Gutiérrez, Acevedo, Agresta – González, Barrios, Cabrera –

Aguilera (82 Bossio), Francéscoli, Acosta (46 Ramos)


1:0 Jorginho 23, 1:1 Aguilera 77 h

Slower and a bit cleaner game the first one. However, it was in this game injuries happened – ironically, from a normal collision between players just a second before Brazil scored. There was nothing intentional, just Rodolfo Rodriguez and Roberto Dinamita crashed into each other running for the ball. At first it looked like that the goalkeeper would be unable to continue the game and the reserve goalie came out. Roberto Dinamita mean time get back on his feet, seemingly fine. But it was the other way around – Rodolfo Rodriguez managed to recover and continued to play; Roberto Dinamita was shaky and limping and had to be substituted a few minutes after.

Brazil scored at that moment and everything was looking fine – they needed just one more goal, more or less controlling the game. But their efforts proved fruitless, slowly the players became frustrated and panicky, their game deteriorated and Uruguay got the upper hand dominating at least the last 30 minutes of the match.

That was what Uruguay did best: strong, ruthless defense. And deadly counter-attacks started from such clearings. Survival of the fittest, that was all. Those with stronger elbows.

The new Brazil of Parreira. What should be said? Why Socrates did not play in the first leg? Why they missed some fantastic opportunities in Montevideo? And why lost heart in the second half of the home match? Strange Brazil – Tele Santana’s was fun to watch, this version was fighting well, but creatively was next to nothing.

Can’t blame the winners for winning – Uruguay won its 12th South American title, equalizing the record of Argentina.

The champions do not look excited , but can’t blame them for that either – they just finished a war.

And the combined final table of this Copa America.

Copa America. Group stage

Group A. Uruguay, Chile, Venezuela – Uruguay was seemingly the favourite and nothing surprising happened.

1. URU^ 4 6 3 0 1 7-4

2. CHI 4 5 2 1 1 8-2

3. VEN 4 1 0 1 3 1-10


Eduardo Mario ACEVEDO Defensor

Luis Alberto ACOSTA Wanderers

Julio ACUÑA Defensor

Carlos Alberto AGUILERA Nacional

Nelson AGRESTA Sud América

Antonio ALZAMENDI Nacional

Jorge Walter BARRIOS Wanderers

Miguel Angel BOSSIO Peñarol

Wilmar Rubens CABRERA Nacional

Alfredo DE LOS SANTOS Defensor

Víctor Hugo DIOGO Peñarol

Raúl ESNAL Wanderers

Gustavo Daniel FERNÁNDEZ Peñarol

Juan Eduardo FERRARI Nacional

Enzo FRANCÉSCOLI River Plate (ARG)

Washington GONZÁLEZ Nacional

Nelson Daniel GUTIÉRREZ Peñarol

Roberto Arsenio LUZARDO Nacional

Néstor MONTELONGO Peñarol

Fernando MORENA Peñarol

Juan Francisco MÜHLETHALER Rampla Juniors

Walter Daniel OLIVERA Atlético (Minas Gerais) (BRA)

Víctor Manuel RABUÑAL Bella Vista

Venancio Ariel RAMOS Peñarol

Eliseo Roque RIVERO Danubio

Rodolfo Sergio RODRÍGUEZ Nacional

Alberto Raúl SANTELLI Defensor

Mario Daniel SARALEGUI Peñarol

José Luis SOSA Nacional

Carlos Eduardo VÁZQUEZ Bella Vista

Jorge VILLAZÁN Nacional

Coach: Omar BORRÁS


Jorge ARAVENA Universidad Católica

Oscar ARRIAZA Naval Talcahuano

Marco Antonio CORNEZ Palestino

Rodolfo DUBÓ Universidad de Chile

Rubén Alberto ESPINOZA Universidad Católica

Leonel HERRERA Colo Colo

Oscar HERRERA Naval Talcahuano

Alejandro Manuel HISIS Colo Colo

Osvaldo Heriberto HURTADO Universidad Católica

Juan Carlos LETELIER Cobreloa

Juan Carlos ORELLANA O’Higgins

Marcelo PACHECO Naval Talcahuano

Juan ROJAS Colo Colo

Luis ROJAS Unión Española

Roberto Antonio ROJAS Colo Colo

Juan SOTO QUINTANA Naval Talcahuano

René Eduardo VALENZUELA Universidad Católica

Coach: Luis IBARRA


Pedro Javier ACOSTA Deportivo Portugués

César BAENA ULA Mérida

Braulen BARBOZA Atlético San Cristóbal

Julio Omar BARBOZA Deportivo Táchira

Carlos BETANCOURT Atlético Zamora

Nelson José CARRERO ULA Mérida

Rodolfo CARVAJAL ULA Mérida

Johnny CASTELLANOS Atlético Zamora

Douglas CEDEÑO Mineros

Robert ELLIE ULA Mérida

Pedro Juan FEBLES Atlético San Cristóbal

Ildemaro FERNÁNDEZ Estudiantes (Mérida)

José GAMBOA Deportivo Portugués

José MILILLO Estudiantes (Mérida)

Daniel NIKOLAC Mineros

Carlos PÉREZ Colegio San Agustín

Alberto RAMOS Deportivo Italia

Franco RIZZI Club Italo Venezolano

José RODRÍGUEZ Deportivo Lara

Asdrúbal SÁNCHEZ ULA Mérida

Nicolás SIMONELLI Atlético San Cristóbal

Oscar TORRES Estudiantes (Mérida)

René TORRES ULA Mérida

William URDANETA Deportivo Lara

Vicente VEGA Portuguesa

Coach: José Walter ROQUE (URU)

Group 2. The toughest one – Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador. Ecuador was bad news for Argentina – they tied both matches at 2-2. Brazil was unable to prevail over Argentina, losing the away match 0-1 and managing only a scoreless tie at home – 0-0. However, Brazil had no problems against Ecuador and topped the group. But here a mystery exists: according to results, the final table should be

1. Brazil 2 1 1 6-1 5

2. Argentina 1 3 0 5-4 5

3. Ecuador 0 2 2 4-10 2

The official table for some reason is:

1. BRA^ 4 5 3 0 1 6-1

2. ARG 4 5 2 2 0 5-4

3. ECU 4 2 0 2 2 4-10


4. 1 Emerson LEÃO Corinthians

5. 2 José LEANDRO De Souza Ferreira Flamengo

6. 3 MÁRCIO Rossini Santos

7. 4 MOZER – José Carlos Nepomuceno Flamengo

8. 5 Jorge Luis ANDRADE Da Silva Flamengo

9. 6 JÚNIOR – Leovegildo Lins Gama Flamengo

10. 7 RENATO GAÚCHO – R. Portaluppi Grêmio

11. 8 SÓCRATES Brasileiro Sampaio Corinthians

12. 9 ROBERTO DINAMITA – R. Oliveira Vasco Da Gama

13. 10 TITA – Milton Queiroz da Paivão Flamengo

14. 11 JORGINHO – Jorge Campos Palmeiras

15. 12 JOÃO MARCOS Bueno da Silva Palmeiras

16. 13 PAULO ROBERTO Curtis Costa Grêmio

17. 14 TONINHO CARLOS – A. C. Pires Santos

18. 15 WLADIMIR Rodrigues dos Santos Corinthians

19. 16 CHINA – Henrique Valmir Grêmio

20. 17 Carlos RENATO Frederico São Paulo

21. 18 CARECA – Antônio de Oliveira São Paulo

22. 19 ÉDER Aleixo de Assis Atlético (Minas Gerais)

23. 20 LEIZ Antônio Mendes da Cunha Portuguesa

24. 21 JOÃO PAULO de Lima Filho Santos

25. 22 ACÁCIO Cordeiro Barreto Vasco da Gama

26. 23 GERALDO Pereira Botafogo (Río de Janeiro)

27. 24 Milton da Cunha MENDONÇA Portuguesa

28. 25 DOUGLAS Huminia Menezes Cruzeiro

Coach: Carlos Alberto PARREIRA


José Luis BROWN Atlético Nacional (COL)

Juan Carlos BUJEDO Vélez Sarsfield

Jorge Luis BURRUCHAGA Independiente

Julián CAMINO Estudiantes (La Plata)

Néstor Rolando CLAUSEN Independiente

Ubaldo Matildo FILLOL Argentinos Juniors

Ricardo Alberto GARECA Boca Juniors

Oscar Alfredo GARRÉ Ferro Carril Oeste

Ricardo Omar GIUSTI Independiente

Ruben Darío INSÚA San Lorenzo

Omar Roberto JORGE Vélez Sarsfield

Claudio Oscar MARANGONI Independiente

Roberto MOUZO Boca Juniors

Alberto José MÁRCICO Ferro Carril Oeste

Julio Jorge OLARTICOECHEA River Plate

José Daniel PONCE Estudiantes (La Plata)

Nery Alberto PUMPIDO Vélez Sarsfield

Víctor Hugo RAMOS Newell’s Old Boys

Jorge Roberto RINALDI San Lorenzo

Miguel Angel RUSSO Estudiantes (La Plata)

Alejandro SABELLA Estudiantes (La Plata)

Enzo Héctor TROSSERO Independiente

Coach: Carlos Salvador BILARDO



Wilson Antonio ARMAS El Nacional

Freddy Egberto BRAVO

Gabriel CANTOS LDU Portoviejo

Paul “Polo” Fernando CARRERA Deportivo Quito

Hamilton Emilio CUVI 9 de Octubre

Carlos Kiko DELGADO El Nacional

Alfredo ENCALADA Deportivo Quito


Luis Augusto GRANDA El Nacional


Hans MALDONADO El Nacional

José Vicente MORENO LDU Quito

Luis Orlando NARVÁEZ El Nacional

Pedro Marcelo PROAÑO

Tulio Tayron QUINTEROS Barcelona

Lupo Cenén QUIÑÓNEZ Manta

Israel RODRÍGUEZ Emelec


Bolívar RUIZ LDU Quito

Carlos René RON

Jorge Vinicio RON Universidad Católica

Mario TENORIO Barcelona

Galo Fidean VÁSQUEZ Barcelona

José Jacinto VEGA El Nacional

José VILLAFUERTE El Nacional

Coach: Ernesto GUERRA


Group 3. Bolivia, Colombia, Peru. Peru was the likeliest winner and it was:

1. PER^ 4 6 2 2 0 6-4

2. COL 4 4 1 2 1 5-5

3. BOL 4 2 0 2 2 4-6



Top row, from left: Pedro Requena, Pedro Bonelli, Julio Zorrilla, Jorge Ramírez, Eduardo Rey Muñoz, Luis Reyna, Franco Navarro, Rubén Díaz.

Middle row: José Casanova, Alberto Castillo, Genaro Neyra, Juan Caballero, José Aguayo, José Velásquez, Eduardo Malásquez, José Gonzáles Ganoza, Oscar Bravo.

First row: technical personal, officials, coaches.

Eusebio Alfredo ACASUZO Universitario

Jorge AGUAYO Melgar

Pedro BONELLI Deportivo Municipal

Juan CABALLERO Sporting Cristal

José CASANOVA Alianza Lima

Rubén Toribio DÍAZ Sporting Cristal

Jaime Eduardo DUARTE Alianza Lima

Raúl GARCÍA Universitario

Germán Carlos LEGUÍA Universitario

Eduardo Hugo MALÁSQUEZ Deportivo Municipal

Alberto MORA Sporting Cristal

Eduardo Rey MUÑOZ Universitario

Pedro Franco Enrique NAVARRO Deportivo Municipal

Genaro NEYRA Melgar

Jorge Andrés OLAECHEA

Jorge RAMÍREZ Melgar

Pedro Jesús REQUENA Sport Boys

Luis Alberto REYNA Sporting Cristal

Roberto ROJAS Alianza Lima

José Manuel VELÁSQUEZ Alianza Lima

Coach: Juan José TAN



Jesús Alberto BARRIOS Atlético Júnior

Pedro Manuel BLANCO Atlético Junior

Oscar Emilio BOLAÑO Atlético Júnior

Juan Edgardo CAICEDO América (Cali)

Anthony William DE AVILA América (Cali)

José Ernesto DÍAZ Millonarios

Alvaro Diego ESCOBAR Independiente Medellin

Víctor Hugo ESPINOSA América (Cali)

Fernando FIORILLO Atlético Júnior

Hernán Darío HERRERA Atlético Nacional

Carlos Mario HOYOS Deportivo Cali

Arnoldo Alberto IGUARÁN Millonarios

Víctor Emilio LUNA Atlético Nacional

Nolberto MOLINA Millonarios

José James MINA Independiente Santa Fé

Willington José ORTIZ América (Cali)

Norberto José PELUFFO Millonarios

Miguel Augusto PRINCE Millonarios

Pedro Enrique SARMIENTO Atlético Nacional

Henry Roberto VIÁFARA Deportivo Pereira

Alex “Didí” VALDERRAMA Unión Magdalena

Coach: Efraín SÁNCHEZ



Top row, from left: W. Camacho, técnico, F. Salinas, D. Paniagua, R Perez, Terrazas, Castillo, J. Peña, Hoyos, R. Coímbra.

Middle row: O. Mezza, Camacho, Revollo, S. Rojas, J. Villarroel, R. Vargas, Urizar, M. Aguilar.

Front row: J. Reynaldo, E. Romero, Zambrana, C. Borja, M. Melgar, Arias, Vaca.

Miguel AGUILAR Oriente Petrolero

Carlos ARIAS Bolívar

Carlos Fernando BORJA Bolívar

Jorge CAMACHO Petrolero (Cochabamba)

Edgar CASTILLO Blooming

Rolando COIMBRA Guabirá

José Milton MELGAR Blooming

Ovidio Donacio MEZZA The Strongest

David Augusto PANIAGUA Blooming

Roberto PÉREZ Guabirá

Silvio Edmundo ROJAS Blooming

Erwin ROMERO Bolívar

Fernando SALINAS Bolívar

Eduardo TERRAZAS Blooming

Carlos URIZAR Bolívar

Edgar VACA Guabirá

Ramiro VARGAS Bolívar

Johnny VILLAROEL Jorge Wilstermann

Coach: Wilfredo CAMACHO

Copa America

Copa America. The big international championship this year, which left little memories somehow – apart from South America, hardly anybody noticed it. It was played between August 10 and November 4, 1983, in the following formula: Paraguay, the cup holders were exempted from preliminary rounds, going directly the semi-finals. The remaining 9 countries were divided into 3 round-robin groups, the winners going to the semi-finals. There was no host country – from start to end every country played two matches against any opponent, one at home and one away. Thus, matches were played in the following cities: Asuncion, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Goiania, Quito, La Paz, Lima, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Santiago, Uberlandia. Some strange places, indeed – but that concerns only Brazil, where the popularity of the game pushed towards various cities. Luck was against Brazil and Argentina, which happened to be in one preliminary group. As was often the case in the past, squads looked unusual – increasingly, the reason was that players based in Europe were not available. There were only 5 foreign based players and only Paraguay had legionaries stationed outside the continent: Romero and Cabanas, both of New York Cosmos. The Argentine Jose Luis Brown played for Atletico Nacional (Colombia) and Uruguayans Enzo Francescoli for River Plate (Argentina) and Walter Olivera for Atletico Mineiro (Brazil). But there was something else as well: Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay had new coaches. Their concepts differed from those of the previous coaches, therefore, they selected different players. The new coaches are worth mentioning: Argentina was now under Carlos Bilardo – the very opposite of Menotti in philosophy. Hence, entirely different players – tough fighters were preferred. Practically, only Fillol remained from Menotti’s team, but some of the players Menotti ignored now were in the team – Mouzo, for instance. Of course, the new team was just in the early stages of shaping, so many of the players did not play any role in later years. Maradona was absent.

Brazil was now under Carlos Alberto Parreira. A strange choice at the time – at least to the foreign eye: Parreira was known just because he coached Kuwait at the 1982 World Cup. And that was practically the pinnacle of his career so far – which was not long and he was not a former player. Parreira had nothing to do with Tele Santana’s views and the team was changed accordingly – it was going in the same direction as Bilardo’s Argentina: tougher, more physical and defense-first approach. Zico was not present, but some of the players Santana did not use were back. Leao, first of all – unquestionably, the best Brazilian goalkeeper since early 1970s, he refused to play for Santana, objecting to his concept in favour of attack. Parreira’s concept was acceptable, though – and no wonder: as a goalkeeper, Leao naturally preferred strong defense. Also back was Roberto Dinamita in attack – he was known as Dinamite in the 1970s, now was Dinamita. Santana had problems with center-forwards, but somehow Roberto Dinamita was not exactly his type of player. Parreira taught otherwise. Strikers continued to be a problem, though – and those chosen, including the recycled hero of the 1978 World Cup Mendonca, were not exactly satisfying. Midfield was somewhat destroyed: Socrates was not used in every game, seemingly, Parreira trying to build different kind of midfield – tougher and physical, but not creative. A midfield of warriors, not artists. Of course, it was difficult to judge, for Zico and Falcao, playing in Europe, were unavailable. Yet, the fact that Socrates was often out. Defense was fine – Leandro, Marcio, Mozer, and Junior – but the emphasis was on brutal toughness. Mozer excelled in that, but even elegant Junior was largely kicking legs rather than the ball.

Finally, Omar Borras.

‘Professor’ Borras was the oldest of the new coaches, but least known outside South America. And he remained unknown to the world until 1986. His approach was hardly changing the general directions of Uruguayan football and he, having limited options compared to Parreira and Bilardo, did not chose entirely different players. His contribution was largely bringing the notoriously brutal Uruguayan kind of football to new peak. More or less, the only discarded players were the veterans from the 1970s – Walter Olivera and Fernando Morena. It was gradual dismissal – both were still in the team and played a bit in the tournament, but not at the end. Understandable choice – both were getting old and it was inevitable they would be out soon. What Borras did was stripping down any pretension of playing football: it was just keep back, kill anything that move, sacrifice yourself, and pass the ball to one of the fast wingers to see what they can do in counter-attack. If goal was scored – great, but it was not essential: first and foremost, break the legs of all players of the other team. If not the legs – than their heads. Break something, no matter what. Scare them. Kill them. Simple. No wonder Enzo Francescoli was not exactly a key figure and not very visible on the pitch – it was not that he was to organize attacks, but, with some luck, to finish. To kick the ball in the net, if there was some stray chance. Combative Diogo was much more visible – punching, kicking, grabbing, and orchestrating the mowing of his teammates to suicidal degree. Kill the opposition, even if you die in the effort – that was all. Borras plainly and simply introduced murder as a tactic. His players, the very same used before, did not mind at all.

One last note, concerning a name. There was Valderama, playing for Colombia, but this was not the one coming naturally to mind: not Carlos ‘Pibe’ Valderrama, but Alex ‘Didi’ Valderrama of Union Magdalena. He did not play long for Colombia, but he was playing in the 1983 Copa America. ‘Pibe’ was not yet a national team player.



One major international tournament this year – Copa America. Hardly noticed outside the continent, but, retrospectively, the final provides food for thought. This year does not stand out with anything memorable, so from the distance of time the Copa America final practically shows not only why, but also the deterioration of football in the 1980s. Two-legged final, played between Brazil and Uruguay. Younger football fans, knowing only the game after 1995 would be terribly surprised, if watching the final, especially the first leg. It was sheer murder: kicks, punches, elbowing, two mass fights, involving both entire teams, Leandro attacked one of the kids passing the ball (still a single ball was used), and the fans were ready to invade the pitch and lynch him (not for nothing Estadio Centenario has moths filled with water between the stands and the pitch), which was followed by brief boxing match between Leandro and Uruguayan player very offended by his attack of the kid. The referee blew the whistle every minute, and that was after having been lenient for the offenses committed in the minute between calls. Brutal game from start to finish – today it would have been done with no later than the 10th minute because there would be not enough players left to continue (the only clean player this day was the Brazilian goalkeeper Leao). Not back than… note: there were only 2 yellow cards! Not a single player left the game injured. The kicks were viscous, yet simulations did not last long – it was difficult to say how much was real pain and how much theatrics. The referee had no friends, so he was rushed by many players, sometimes by the whole teams, protesting whatever call was made. Seemingly, the biggest arguments erupted about the proper place of the ball for a free kick – especially those, when the attacking team was called against and the ball was in the penalty area. It was an absurd: the goalkeeper, no matter what, would not endanger the other team with his long kick ahead to the field, but the fight for every centimeter was enormously hot. Literally for a single centimeter. Yet, the tempo was frantic, the fight for the ball was massive and covered every inch of the pitch, so at the end of the first half there no grass left – it was like freshly plowed field. The defensive walls were no more than 5 meters away from the ball and there was not even an attempt of the ferefee to move them back to the proper distance. And the walls were at least that far – solitary defenders not part of the walls were hardly more than 3 meters away from the ball. Yet, it was entertaining match – that is, the time when football was actually played between referee’s calls. And the big ugly news: in both legs the better team did not win – Brazil lost in Uruguay, than Uruguay managed only a tie after completely dominating the second half in Brazil. It was exactly what Paul Breitner said a year earlier: football is a war and only victory matters, achieved no matter how. So it was no longer the better team wins, but rather the opposite.

What would be also very strange for a contemporary viewer was the absence of many ‘vital elements’ of today’s football. There were no coaches walking like tigers in a cage, constantly shouting, abusing referees, trying to rush on the pitch, waving their hands, jumping, kicking, etc. There were no players going into tantrums against the grand offense – having been substituted. These players hardly had ‘feelings’ – no one seemed ‘unhappy’ for been cursed at, or unable to kick the ball, or someone may be said something about his sister. God was no present either – no elaborated rituals, prayers, undershirts with slogans, pointing at the sky, where God dwells, after a goal was scored. A few players – curiously, mostly Uruguayns, the least religious nation in South America – crossed themselves when coming to the pitch, but that was all. Nobody rushed to TV cameras to show how great he is, simultaneously shouting endless thanks to his mother, father, wife, her sister, and the family dog. Nobody dies after the first clash with opposite player, no stretchers were rushed to take the done for victim to the emergency hospital. Watching those old players taking so many terrible kicks is a huge contrast to today’s players, half of which get injured before the seasons stars and the other half is dead tired after 5-6 games. And another thing – the ball was not a foreign and hostile object, which has to be conquered somehow and after a great deal of training, much care, and in a lucky day a player may actually handle briefly – the ball was a problem and concern: it was almost a natural part of the body. Great skills, obvious in a very harsh environment. In which many players and especially the most vulnerable strikers played without shin pads. Frankly, I cannot see Cristiano Ronaldo playing in such a match – he will run away and cry.

But the high tempo, the pressing and fighting for every ball anywhere, and the brutality made the match chaotic. There was nobody in control, nobody with cool head and ability to slow down and organize his team. That was why the visibly better team was unable to win. A matter of tactics – and here the second leg will be included to complete the picture. It was slightly different – the tempo was slower, the ugliness a notch down, the attacks better organized. In the first leg Brazil played without Socrates, but he played the second leg immediately making the difference: suddenly there was empty space on the pitch and Brazilian attacks were much better organized. But… this served Uruguay better. If one watches the first leg carefully, very carefully, something eventually becomes clear – Uruguay was essentially defensive team, depending on occasional counter-attacks. They were always that, but under their new coach the brutality was on new higher level, Uruguay was just like a swarm of angry wasps attacking everything in sight. However, the match was in Montevideo, so Brazil was not only more defensive itself, but Uruguay had to push forward – and the basic tactical concept did not allow it. They had no playmaker – instead, the ball was passed to one of the speedy wingers. This worked in counter-attacks, when the opposite half of field was empty and sole winger can outplay one or two surprised defenders, it depended on individual skills. But in crowded environment and when attacks had to be carefully organized it did not work at all – Uruguay was toothless, virtually having only three shots at the Leao’s net (but those shots proved to be deadly, all ending in the net – one goal was disallowed). Thus, Leao had nothing to do at all (and nothing to be blamed for three goals – he had no chance every time). Instead, Brazil was more dangerous and with many opportunities to score – Rodolfo Rodriguez was actually the big hero of the first leg, he saved everything – the most dangerous 2 balls came from clumsy action of his own defenders. Brazil, rushing too and without organization, missed all chances. In the second leg Brazil was seemingly stronger form the start – now Socrates was organizing its attacks. Yet, the slower tempo benefited the defensive team – time was running against Brazil on one hand, on the other Brazil had no option but rush in attacks, thus providing opportunities for dangerous counter-attacks. Suddenly Leao had much more work than Rodriguez. By the 60th minute Uruguya managed to neutralize Brazil and get the upper hand – and to the end of the match it was dominating by quickly killing increasingly frustrated Brazilian efforts to organize attacks, moving immediately into counter-attacks. Uruguay did not have to win this match, but the irony remained – Brazil was better and lost the first leg. Uruguay was better and did not win the second leg. That was the new football of the 1980s – speedy and covering the whole field, elements clearly taken from total football; merciless and cold murderous tackles everywhere, which were part of the tactics, elements introduced mostly by late 1970s West Germany; cynical approach to the game – just extarct a win, no matter how and to hell with beauty – formulated by Paul Breitner in 1982. Football was war. It was no longer exciting show – the whole excitement was left for the moment after the final whistle, when embattled soldiers, hardly staying on the feet, bruised and limping had a moment to smile after a hard work on the battle field: they were ugly killers, half-dead themselves, who pleased no one, but they won. Frankly, there was little to watch anymore – the beautiful game was dead. No wonder violence spread rapidly outside the field and the new fans – the ultras – emerged: they hardly cared for the game, they were just the 12th soldier going to war, invading cities, clashing with opposite armies and generally destroying everything on their way. And the rules of the sport no longer worked – they were increasingly used just as a war tool, entirely against their spirit.

Here they are – the new breed of warriors. They fought their way to one more South American title, but the world saw them and was scandalized by them in 1986.


Quiet retirement should be followed by quiet debut. Probably you will be surprised – Christo Stoichkov played his first official match this season. Great players make their debut early, so nothing different – he was barely 16-years old. Great talents are usually noticed early – and so his was. But he was no Maradona… Stoichkov debuted for 3rd Division clib – Hebros (Kharmanly). No fuss, no pictures, no journalists. Third division… that is, nobody noticed. And it was also mysterious debut, for Stoichkov is from the city of Plovdiv, where he trained and played in the youth system of Martitza. An old club, but lowly – ranks forth in the city. Which means that talented juniors were more than likely to move to one of the biggies – Botev (than Trakia) or Lokomotiv. Both had excellent youth systems at the time, producing tons of talents, who quickly became stars. So, how talented Stoichkov really was? The big clubs did not take him. Even his club was not eager to play him – Maritza was not much, but at least was Second, not Third, division club at the time. And something else – at 16, he was still at school. Moving to another city, even if not far away from home, as was the case, was still unlikely – unless his family moved for some reason to the small town. The mysteries remain, but the fact is Stoichkov debuted this season.

And nothing was heard of him for a few more years. Pretty much until this photo was taken – in 1985, at his almost first First division match. The ill-fated derby between CSKA and Levski in the spring of 1985, which ended in disgrace. Stoichkov, playing for CSKA, participated eagerly in the fights and red-carded. Did not want to leave, so had to be ‘helped’ by Levski’s stuff and players. After this match there were heavy penalties – both clubs and many players were banned. One of them was Stoichkov – he was banned for life! His career was over before it even started. He was still a nobody. But CSKA and 1985 were still far away in the unknown future – for the moment, he played third level football.


Retirement. Rob Rensenbrink stepped down this year – a quiet finish of illustrious career. He played his last football for Toulouse (France) and it was not a great season… 12 matches and 1 goal. One of the greatest heroes of the 1970s exited the game modestly. Well, his game was no longer the same for some time and considering his current state of health (diagnosed with Spinal muscular atrophy in 2012), injuries must had been the reason for his decline. He played football for a very long time, though.

Born in 1947, Rensenbrink debuted for DWS Amsterdam in 1965. In 4 years the very young left winger played 120 matches, scoring 34 goals – and he was noticed.

First by the national team coach and then by FC Brugge (Belgium). He debuted for Holland in 1968. The next year moved to Belgium, following in the steps of countless Dutch players. This move was both a blessing and a curse: he became true star in Belgium, but meantime ‘total football’ took the world by storm and he was not part of it. But he won his first trophy with FC Brugge in 1970 – the Belgian Cup.

And moved to the real thing at the time – Anderlecht – in 1971. However, his true international break-through was in 1974, when Rinus Michels made him a starter of his great team at the World Cup finals.

Rensenbrink became forever one of the great ‘flying Dutchmen’ and instantly a world-class star. Now he was expected to really shine.

And he shined, winning with Anderlecht the Cup Winners Cup in 1976. Now Anderlecht was the team taking over where Ajax left – and, with Rensenbrink, won a second Cup Winners Cup in 1978. And Rensenbrink was expected to replace Cruijff in the Dutch national team and lead it at the 1978 World Cup.

It was bitter-sweet time: Rensenbrink spent much time protesting his new role – he said he was no Cruijff and cannot play like him. Yet, he played well, Holland reached the World Cup final for a second time and… lost. If Rensenbrink scored… but the ball went to the goalpost and not in the net. “If the trajectory of my shot had been five centimetres different, we would have been world champions. On top of that, I would have been crowned top scorer and perhaps chosen as the best player of the tournament – all in the same match. That’s why I keep things in perspective.”, said Rensenbrink. Twice unlucky… he was injured at the 1974 final and managed to play only half of the game. And contributed little…

His last match for Holland was in 1979 and after that he was on the path to retirement.

Moved to USA to play for Portland Timbers in 1980 (18 games and 6 goals) – and against Johann Cruijff, at that time playing for Washington Diplomats. The photo shows what made many thinking Rob was the natural replacement of Johann: they looked so alike. As if looks equal style and position. Part of the controversy: Rensenbrink was similar to Cruijff, so that was why he did not play often for Holland. Sound true, but first of all in the early 1970s Dutch stars often preferred not to play for the national team, Cruijff included. As far as positions go, not Cruijff, but Piet Keizer was the real competition. And Keizer was at his best before 1974. All speculation about why Rensenbrink was not a regular before 1974 were born in 1977, when Cruijff decided not to play anymore for Holland – and grew bigger after. There was deliberate effort to put Rensenbrink in Cruijff’s position at that time – contrary to the player’s protests. Yet, many maintain this opinion to this very day – here is Jan Mulder: “Robbie Rensenbrink was as good as Cruijff, only in his mind was he not.” Coming from Mulder… who was expected to replace Cruijff in Ajax and failed totally. That was in 1973. In 1974, after the World Cup, Ajax tried to sign Rensenbrink for the same reason – to play as Cruijff. Muddy story… according to some, the negotiations fell apart. According to Rensenbrink, he was never fond of Ajax and did not want to play for the club. One of the main reasons he played mostly in Belgium, again according to him. Posing with Cruijff was one thing, playing as Cruijff – another and not up to him. Anyhow, he played in NASL only one season and moved back to Europe – this time joining French second division team. Toulouse. Did not play much, but still ended as champion – Toulouse won the second division championship. And that was the final chapter.

The whole ‘book’ in plain stats: Twice champion of Belgium (Anderlecht – 1972, 1974). Five Belgian Cups (FC Brugge – 1970, Anderlecht – 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976). Two Cup Winners Cup (Anderlecht – 1976, 1978), Two UEFA Supercups (Anderlecht – 1976, 1978), One Second Division title (Toulouse – 1982). Twice World vice-champion (Holland – 1974, 1978).

In numbers: DWS Amsterdam – 120 matches, 34 goals.

FC Brugge – 55 matches, 24 goals.

Anderlecht – 262 matches, 143 goals.

Portland Timbers – 18 matches, 6 goals.

Toulouse – 12 matches, 1 goal.New

Total: 467 matches and 208 goals.

Holland – 46 matches, 14 goals (1968-1979).

What else? He was a great penalty taker – he missed only two in his career. He and Eusebio are the all-time highest penalty scorers at World Cup finals – both scored 4 (Eusebio in 1966, Rensenbrink in 1978). In 2004 Pele named him among the 125 greatest living footballers.

What else? Anderlecht named him its greatest ever player in 2008. Ahead of Paul van Himst!

And those who saw Robbie Rensenbrink played consider themselves blessed. What a lovely player he was… but everything comes to end.

European Player of the Year

The European Footballer of the Year. This was a bit predictable: Italy won the World Cup and Paolo Rossi was the hero of the winning team. By the end of 1982, he was already the top scorer of the World Cup finals and voted best player at the finals. So… to be number 1 in Europe was expected. And he won the trophy practically unchallenged: with 115 points. Second was Alain Giresse (France and Girondens Bordeaux) with 67 points. Third – Zbigniew Boniek (Poland and Juventus) with 53.

Well, Rossi was king and considering the troubles he went through in the recent years, it was nice to see him at the very top. But… practically, Rossi triumphed thanks to just 2 games. True, he played vital role, particularly in scoring the goals which made Italy champion of the world – and that counts a lot.

Pictures like this one were fresh and influential.

However, it was pictures like this one, which made Rossi a big star and rightly so. But this one was already old and almost forgotten photo of his days with L.Vicenza. Back than he scored a plenty. Now, he was playing for Juventus, where it was difficult to score so many goals – the competition was very harsh. Among so many stars it was difficult to distinguish Rossi and he was not exactly the key player of the team. Unfortunately, scorers and particularly scorers in important finals get the glory and journalists are slaves of glory. Rossi, then… even when others had much stronger overall season: Platini (9th with 5 points), Antognoni (11th with 3 points), Pezzey (12th with 2 poinst), Breitner (15th with 1 point). Yes, none was world champion. And none won much this year. All that counts at the end is winning… one may play great football, but without a victory nobody cares. So Rossi was the best of all with his two matches.

The Golden Shoe


The Golden Shoe. The European top scorer for 1981-82 was Wim Kieft with 32 goals.

Born in 1962 and playing for Ajax, Kieft brought new hopes for Ajax and Dutch football in general – a new talented generation seemingly was emerging. But the Golden Shoe was already a misleading award – weaker championship had better chances to elevate a goalscorer. Kieft followed Kist, who won the award not long ago. That was promising. But… neither Kist, nor Kieft became truly great stars.



Finland. Two-phased championship, designed with the aim to improve the quality of the game, but as every such design there were problems. Well known problems: the first phase counted only for qualifying to the second phase – 8 out 12 league members. The last 4 went to promotion-relegation phase with the top 4 of Second Division. The top 8 teams carried half of their 1st phase points to the final phase – and here was the problem. 7th placed in the first phase KPV Kokkola had 25 points – 4 less than the winner of this phase, TPS Turku. Halving the points reduced the difference to 2 points. The whole first phase was quite meaningless and a clever club would play just well enough to qualify to the final stage, when the competition would be already tired from spending too much effort in the first phase. And that was seemingly the case in Finland this year: HJK Helsinki, 5th in the first phase, and Kuusysi Lahti, 6th, stepped up in the 2nd phase, but the leaders of the 1st phase, TPS Turku and Koparit Kuopio (formerly KPT Kuopio), were no longer competitive. At the end Kussysi prevailed and won the title.

The city of Lahti was no stranger to success, but the club was Reipas, not this one. Kuusysi was new club – or kind of new club. Its roots were old, but 1969 was the most important year. At that time the name was Lahti69 and it is difficult to figure out what exactly this club was: a brand new one, an off-shoot of Reipas, taking off on its own, amalgamation of other clubs or remains of other clubs. The name was odd and was quickly changed to something more palatable… or well, so it looks just because it is letters and looks like name. Who knows Finnish isn’t fooled – it is just that instead of numbers 69 is written with letters. The new boys did well in their short history – established themselves in the top league, sometimes playing better than Reipas, which showed signs of decline. However, nothing spectacular so far…

The squad means nothing to almost anybody, but it is historic nevertheless: these boys made Kuusysi champions for the first time. Did they take advantage of the championship formula or were they even a bit lucky no longer mattered: the young ‘underdog’ won. At the same time Reipas was playing in 2nd Division (won promotion this year, after finishing 2nd in the promotion-relegation tournament).

The Cup final opposed Haka Valkeakoski to KPV Kokkola.

Haka won 3-2 and got their 7th Cup.





Luxembourg. The winners of Second Division were US Rumelange. Stade Dudelange was 2nd and both teams were promoted. It was wonderful season for US Rumelange – they almost reached European spot.

Spora Luxembourg was last. May be a bit of a surprise, but they were weak. So was Jeunesse Hautcharage, which finished 11th thanks to better goal-difference. The lowest teams finished with 10 points each, plummeting down to second division. With 14 points Olympique Eischen was safe – 10th place was almost a success for them.

Jeunesse Esch/Alzette finished 3rd with 29 points.

Progres Niedercorn was strong, but unable to repeat their success of the previous year – 2nd this time, 4 points behind the champions. 32 points.

With 36 points Avenir Beggen was confident winner. One more title for them.

The Cup final opposed the Second Division champion US Rumelange to 4th placed Red Boys Differdange. A good opportunity for US to make a double and to become one of the underdogs playing in the Cup Winners Cup. Red Boys had relatively good season in the top league, but winning the Cup was their true chance for success. US put the good fight, came close, but the objectively stronger first division team tampered their ambition.

Red Boys prevailed 2-1 and the Cup was theirs. Well done.