ENGLISH FOOTBALL’S hubris and jingoism were exposed as mad delusions by a talented and superior German team last Sunday, sending the mis-titled ‘golden generation’ out of South Africa 2010.
Now that the soap opera of the England team has finished, perhaps we can finally be allowed to concentrate on what the World Cup is actually about - football.
For English fans though, Sunday’s game was a harsh wake up call that the team are just not good enough. So perhaps it is time for a comforting reminder of an English side that came so close to the prize.
Italia 90 was a great World Cup - only if you were Irish - otherwise it was one long, boring, run of negative, defensive, football, nil all draws (it was taking place in Italy after all ), and thugishness (16 red cards ), completely at odds with the magnificent display of attacking, skilful, football which made the previous World Cup, Mexico 86, such a classic.
Yet, there are a couple of enduring images and matches from Italia 90 and chief among them is the epic semi-final clash between England and Germany in the Stadio delle Alpi, Turin, on July 4 1990.
This was the match which saw two old rivals square up to each other for the right to play in the final; produce a thrilling, nerve shredding, penalty shoot out; and give us the iconic image of Paul Gascoigne in tears after the match, as the Germans walked away victorious.
It is this match, and that English squad, the only ones since 1966 to come within shouting distance of the final, which is the basis of a fascinating new documentary which will be screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.
One Night In Turin, directed by James Erskine and narrated by actor Gary Oldman, tells the inside story of the Italia 90 and is based on the best-selling book All Played Out by Pete Davies.
1990 was an extraordinary year. Communism was dead. Thatcher was on the way out. Germany was reunified. Mandela walked free from prison. It was a new decade of possibility.
Argentina were determined to defend their title. Germany did not want to end up on the losing side as they did in 1982 and 1986. Ireland qualified for the first time.
England though, well England was the same old barmy soap opera it always is at a World Cup. Their style of football was unloved, manager Bobby Robson was derided by the media, and the fans were still held in contempt and suspicion given the hooliganism of the 1980s.
Yet England had a very strong squad - Peter Shilton, Bryan Robson, Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, Gary Lineker, John Barnes, Trevor Steven, and the mercurial Gascoigne - perhaps they could turn things around
and prove the detractors wrong.
Locked away behind barbed wire fences on the remote island of Sardinia, the players, managers, and fans must overcome their own demons, in order to see the rebirth of their reputations, of English football, and even the perception of England.
One Night in Turin is constructed from unseen archive footage and specially shot imagery by Sundance award-winning cinematographer Lol Crawley. Set to a sound track which includes The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and Pavarotti, this film will recreate the mood of 1990, English football’s greatest adventure of foreign soil in the build-up to that summer’s ‘greatest show on Earth’.
One Night In Turin will be screened on Wednesday in the Galway Omniplex at 3.30pm as part of the Galway Film Fleadh. For tickets contact the Town Hall Theatre on 091 - 569777 or see www.tht.ie The DVD One Night In Turin is out now and special features include interviews with Pete Davies and James Erskine, and a behind the scenes documentary.