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29 October 2014
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Match of the World Cup

Paul Whitehouse's Fast Show creation Ron Manager presents Match of the World Cup - three documentaries looking back at the highs and lows of the World Cup, from the heady days of 1966 to the heady days of 1998 via all the heady days that were in between (BBC ONE, from Monday May 27).

The first programme features the greatest stories and players from the tournaments of 66, 70 and 74. England won in 1966 but not before the World Cup was stolen; they'd had a crunching encounter with Argentina and, after an epic final, West Germany's Helmut Haller ran away with the ball. Those were the days!

Mexico 70 saw a Pele-inspired Brazil playing the beautiful game and setting up the greatest goal ever seen in the final against Italy. Bobby Moore made that tackle but couldn't stop West Germany coming back and winning in the quarter finals.

West Germany 74 was the birth of the Tartan Army and of Scotland's troubles getting past the first round, but the tournament was set alight by Cruyff and a brilliant Dutch team playing Total Football. They enthralled the world but somehow neglected to win the trophy against Franz Beckenbauer's Germany.

In programme two, Ron Manager journeys into the dark side of the World Cup as he dissects Argentina 78, Spain 82 and Mexico 86. In 1978, Ally’s Tartan Army was on the march but the team failed to live up to the hype and the bubble burst when Willie Johnston was sent home in disgrace. It was up to Archie Gemmill to salvage some pride with one of the great World Cup moments against Holland… Meanwhile, through a sea of blue and white tickertape Mario Kempes slalomed through the Dutch to fulfil the dreams of the Junta and win the cup for Argentina.

At Spain 82, Northern Ireland caused the upset of the tournament by beating their hosts in a memorable victory. England were back and scored the fastest goal in World Cup history before wilting in the heat. Scotland upset Brazil as David Narey scored first, and paid the price. The final was remarkable for one of the worst fouls ever seen on a football pitch when the German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher flattened Patrick Battiston before Rossi and Tardelli danced around him to win Italy their third World Cup.

In Mexico 86, Gary Lineker won the Golden Boot but it was Maradona's tournament as he used the "Hand of God" against England and then scored the greatest solo goal in the history of the competition.

In the final programme, Ron Manager looks back at Italia 90, USA 94 and France 98. Italy was "the greatest show on earth" as Luciano Pavarotti made sure Radio 1 had to break the habit of a lifetime and play opera on the airwaves. The Republic of Ireland exceeded all expectations by reaching the quarter finals thanks to a penalty scored by, wait for it, David O'Leary. Bobby Robson's England didn't do too badly either; Gazza sobbed at England's epic semi-final against Germany and it was the start of an era: England's dreaded encounters with the penalty shoot-out... The final itself was a bad tempered affair between Argentina and Germany, Argentina bearing the brunt of a hostile Italian home crowd. Says journalist Jimmy Burns: "During the national anthem, Diego Maradona is clearly mouthing the words 'sons of bitches' as he refers to the Italian crowd." Nice, as Ron Manager would say.

The heat of the USA in 94 undid the Republic of Ireland and it was all too much for John Aldridge as he saw red on the touchline. Romario and Bebeto were the stars of the tournament for Brazil but their final against Italy was decided on penalties and Roberto Baggio's nerves. Says Baggio on his fateful miss: "My idea was to lift the ball - but not that high!"

Scotland returned for France 98 and had to play Brazil and the much hyped Ronaldo in the opening match - and once again they went home too soon. Says Colin Hendry: "My kids are forever saying to me, why didn't you clear it off the line Dad?" Not helpful. But the match of the tournament was England's second round tie with Argentina which included that goal (Michael Owen) and that sending off (David Beckham). Says David Seaman on the fateful red card: "It was harsh - a yellow would have been bad enough but a red! I don’t know what the referee was trying to do…" And if that wasn't enough, there was the disallowed goal (Sol Campbell) and the little matter of the penalty shoot out at the end. Says actor Simon O'Brien: "When David Batty started to walk towards the penalty spot, I thought it was a joke." David Seaman adds: "I've never even seen David take one in training!"

The final was marked by the bizarre Ronaldo episode - was he playing or not? Sports writer Danny Kelly comments: "We still don't know what happened in the three hours building up to the final." He was off the team sheet and then back on it - but in the end it didn't matter. Ronaldo was un-inspired, Brazil were lack lustre and France were simply brilliant - step forward Zinedine Zidane.

Notes to Editors

Players reminiscing about their time in the sun

In Programme One: Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton (both England 66), Helmut Haller (Germany 66), Carlos Alberto (Brazil 70), Paolo Cesar, Roberto Rivellino ( both Brazil 70/74), Francis Lee, Peter Bonetti, Brian Labone, Alan Mullery (all England 70), Willie Morgan, Joe Jordan (both Scotland 74), Ruud Krull, Rene Van de Kerkhof and Johnny Repp (all Holland 74).

In Programme Two: Mario Kempes, Ossie Ardiles (both Argentina 78/82), Jorge Valdano (Argentina 86), Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany 78/82/86), Archie Gemmill, Willie Johnston (both Scotland 78), Gordon Strachan (Scotland 82/86), Alan Rough (Scotland 78/82/86), Rene Van de Kerkhof, Johnny Repp (both Holland 78), Claudio Gentile (Italy 78/82), Harald Schumacher (West Germany 82/86), Patrick Battiston (France 82/86), Norman Whiteside, Gerry Armstrong (both Northern Ireland 82/86), Martin O'Neill (Northern Ireland 82), Trevor Brooking (England 82), Kenny Sansom, Terry Butcher (both England 82/86), Bobby Robson and Gary Lineker (both England 86).

In Programme Three: Luciano Pavarotti, Bobby Robson, Gary Lineker, Chris Waddle,Terry Butcher (all England 90), Jurgen Klinsmann (Germany 90), Claudio Caniggia (Argentina 90), Roberto Baggio (Italy 94), Jack Charlton, Ray Houghton, Pat Bonner, John Aldridge (all Ireland 90/94), Leonardo (Brazil 94/98), Carlos Alberto Parreira (Brazil 94), Colin Hendry, Craig Brown (both Scotland 98), David Seaman, Steve McManaman, Gareth Southgate (all England 98) and Laurent Blanc (France 98).

Transmission information

Match of the World Cup will be shown over three nights on BBC ONE.

Programme One (1966, 1970 and 1974): Monday 27 May, 10.35pm
Programme Two (1978, 1982 and 1986): Tuesday 28 May, 10.35pm
Programme Three (1990, 1994 and 1998): Wednesday 29 May, 10.35pm

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