Warning: If You’re English, This Might Make You Cry

Italia 90 was the first World Cup I remember properly. Mexico 86 is a bit blurry – burning sunshine, terrible hair and tiny shorts is all I really remember. Italy came with sticker books, handy kick off times, players I could name and a real chance to make an impression at the tournament.

England had the Golden Boot winner from 1986, Gary Linekar, Peter Shilton in goal for about the millionth time and a spine of quality players from centre half to centre forward. We also had Bobby Robson managing and, more importantly, Gazza in the team.

BBC Scored The Winning Goal

Thousands of England fans went Italy, but the majority of people who saw the games in Italia 90 saw them on the BBC. Love the BBC or hate them, when it comes to covering major sporting events, they usually get the mood bang on. And in the history of the BBC, they’ve never nailed it quite like Italia 90.

Some genius in the BBC creative department decided to use video and pictures of some of the most iconic World Cup moments (many of them made it into this blog about great celebrations LINK) floated over Nessun dorma sang by Luciano Pavarotti. The result was stunning.

A slow introduction of operatic dancing and clips of classic Italian artwork, segued into Pele being lifted, the Cruffy Turn, Maradona, Van Baston, Houghton and Tardelli. It was brilliant.

Maybe it’s because Nessun Dorma is such a powerful song. From the opera Turandot, it tells the story of Calaf, a prince, who will marry Princess Turandot if she can’t guess his name before dawn. Princess Turandot then decrees, under pain of death, that none of her subjects shall sleep (Nessun dorma means none shall sleep) until they’ve guessed his name, mainly because she’s not keen on marrying ole Calaf.

He wins, she loses and, presumably, all the residents of Princess Tuarandot’s parish get the chop. It’s a story that could bring a tear to a glass, especially when Pavarotti got his flabby chops around it. To this day, just hearing Nessun dorma stirs memories of Linekar winking, Millar dancing, Gazza crying, Platt hooking one in… and I’m not ashamed to say it brings a tear to my eye.

Just watch it, and then compare it to the generic samba shite that your local broadcaster, including the BBC, will be pumping out this year. Enjoy.

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