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The Tardelli Scream

Monday 19th March 2012

I hate pre-planned celebrations. The (trademarked) Shearer hand in the air, the Robbie Keane acrobatics, the Tim Cahill boxing the corner flag: They do not convey the elation of scoring a goal. The celebrations themselves take the attention away from the goal itself. The focus is on the player and his personality, rather than the game, tournament and potentially career-defining moment that preceded it.

In 1982, like in 2006, Italy won the World Cup. As in 2006, the 1982 triumph came in the wake of a match fixing scandal. The team's star at the time, Paolo Rossi, was implemented in the crime and had to have his ban reduced to allow him to play in the tournament. With the rest of the world willing them to be eliminated, Italy reached the final, with Rossi scoring five goals along the way.

In the final he added another to his tally, making him the top scorer and rightly Italy's World Cup hero. However, the final itself would belong to Marco Tardelli and the most iconic celebration in football history. Picking the ball up on the edge of the box after a wonderfully patient passing sequence, the Juventus midfielder switched the ball from his right foot to his left before nestling it in the bottom corner of the German goal.

Fists clenched, tears flowing, Tardelli raced away, simply crying 'gol!' repeatedly. It perfectly captured the joy of scoring a goal in the World Cup final. There was no smiling or embracing team mates. The only reaction cathartic enough was screaming and uncontrollable tears. Describing the goal himself, Tardelli said:

"It's a bit like when they say you're going to die and you see your own life. I returned to see when I began to play football as a child. And at that time, I arrived at a summit that any child would have wanted to reach."

It is that rush of infantile emotion that makes the celebration so special, so real. The goal was a realisation of his childhood dream. In that one moment, the time that had passed and the tribulation the team had faced melted away, leaving only Tardelli and his youth, merged into one frenzy of feeling.

Marco Tardelli's celebration is the greatest in footballing history, because it does not commit the crime of so many others: it doesn't trivialise the scoring of a goal.

Jonny Chadwick

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