MILAN - 30 years may have passed, but even those who were young at the time, even those who weren’t yet born, know the stories of those “magical nights”, at least up to the semi-final. That famous “Italian summer” which saw Azeglio Vicini’s Italy vying for a spot at the final in Rome, at the Olimpico, on 8 July 1990. That was every Italian’s dream at the time: but the Azzurri pulled up short in Naples, in that cursed penalty shootout against Argentina.
And so on 8 July 1990, it was Maradona’s Argentina who checked in at the Olimpico, looking to retain their title from 1986, while Franz Beckenbauer’s West Germany, inspired by three Nerazzurri stars at the time, were doing their best to take it for themselves. That Germany side was home to three pillars of Trapattoni’s Inter: Lothar Matthäus, the captain, Andreas Brehme and Jurgen Klinsmann, the last of whom had arrived at the Club after our record-breaking Scudetto and finished as the Nerazzurri’s top scorer in the 1989/90 season.
It was a repeat of the 1986 final, but it certainly wasn’t a game that went down in history for exciting football. Instead, it was a match full of nerves, and one decided by a penalty awarded by Mexican referee Codesal Méndez in the 84th minute, amid stark protests from Argentina after a Sensini foul on Völler. Everyone expected Lothar Matthäus to step up to the spot, but as our former midfielder would go on to explain, Inter and Germany’s no.10 would instead send forward Andreas Brehme to take. He’d broken his boots in the first half, and even though he’d changed them, Matthäus just didn’t feel confident to take such an important penalty in those shoes.
And so, it was all up to Andy. In a recent interview, Walter Zenga spoke about how Andreas Brehme, a left-footer by nature, used to put the ball on the spot and challenge him to a series of ten penalties: five with his left and five with his right. That night at the Olimpico, facing up against Sergio Goycochea, a fearsome goalkeeper who had already kept out Donadoni and Aldo Serena at the San Paolo, Brehme opted to take with his right. A placed effort, almost caressed towards goal: he zipped it along the floor, right into the bottom left, unstoppable.
That goal secured a third World Cup title for Germany, as Inter fans all over the world were able to stand up and applaud their three Nerazzurri stars who had inspired a nation to World Cup success at the Olimpico. Over the course of the competition, Matthäus scored four and Klinsmann and Brehme both netted three each (including that goal in the final). They were three truly decisive players for Beckenbauer’s side. It was a magical night for each of them, and there were certainly tints of black and blue in the air as Lothar raised the World Cup trophy to the sky.