By 1990, the once all-conquering Juventus had not won a league title in four years and were at best the fourth team in the nation. They were lagging behind Diego Maradona’s Napoli and the Dutch and German inspired Milanese clubs of AC Milan and Internazionale. The era of Platini, Tardelli, Zoff, Bettega and Furino had given way to a team whose only reliable players were Captain and goalkeeper Stefano Tacconi and defender/midfielder Luigi De Agostini, the only player with any significant presence in the national team.
Like many celebrated football managers, Bearzot was only a moderately successful player, capped for Italy just once. It wasn’t until he put on a suit and strode the touchlines did he become football legend.
Shahan Petrossian asks What went wrong with the Azzuri (Before, after and even during the 1982 World Cup?) The 1982 Italy squad is forever immortalized in history as World Cup Champions, Italy’s first in the post-war era. The names Paolo Rossi, Dino Zoff, Bruno Conti, Antonio Cabrini and manager Enzo Bearzot are forever part of Italian soccer folklore. Their victory over the purists’ favorite Brazil (containing Zico, Socrates, Falcao, etc.) regularly ranks as one of the greatest World Cup victories ever.