Maradona vs USSR 1979

Argentina U20 vs USSR U20, World Youth C’ship 1979 Final

First Diego Armando Maradona catches your eye. Then he captures your imagination. When watching him aged 18 leading the Argentine Under 20 side to glory you get the feeling it was always preordained. It was always about El Pibe de Oro, the Golden Boy, winning his first major trophy. His teammates, albeit talented, look a mere supporting cast. Ignorance renders the eleven Soviet opponents in the final into nameless adversaries to be overcome – like villains in many an action movie of the time.

But it is the leading man’s name on the marquee that ensures you buy a ticket to watch the picture. Diving into football history it is Maradona’s name that makes you pull up a nearly four decades old youth match. And then you are left marvelling at what you see because it is all still on display today: Maradona’s athleticism, vision, passing, balance, control, oh that control, and most importantly the promise of more. The World Youth Championship 1979 was only to be the beginning.

Maradona & Menotti

In Japan Maradona may have announced himself to the world. But by 1979 he was already a bonafide star in his native Argentina. Learning to play on the streets of Buenos Aires and in the youth system of local side Argentinos Juniors Maradona quickly rose through the ranks. As a pre-teen he had caught the public’s attention at Argentinos matches performing ball tricks during the half time break. Before turning 16 he debuted for the senior side. After eleven appearances he earned his first Albiceleste cap. Leading 4:0 against Hungary the Buenos Aires crowd urged their national team manager to bring on the pibe. Cesar Luis Menotti obliged. Continue reading

Interview: Talking decades’ worth of football history with Lukas Tank

In a YYFP-first we bring a new voice into the fold. Lukas Tank (@SergiXaviniesta) was kind enough to join Sebastian for an hour long interview. Lukas has worked his way through football history, publishing his thoughts on the legends of the game along with his “Teams of the Decade” on his blog footballarguments.wordpress.com.

The over-arching theme for the talk turned out to be how yesteryear affects the modern game and what we can gleam from diving into old matches to help us understand football today.
We ran the gamut of topics, such as Cruyff’s ever-lasting importance, Matthäus’ longevity & standing in Germany, or who could be considered the greatest Italian player of all time?

Minutes in case you want to jump around:

  • 0:00:00 Intro
  • 0:03:00 What does Lukas’ process look like?
  • 0:09:00 Does the big stage make the big player?
  • 0:13:45 Could Benteke hack it in the ’60s?
  • 0:17:15 Where does Lukas’ fascination with football history come from?
  • 0:28:30 Who is the greatest Italian player ever?
  • 0:33:00 Does Matthäus’ longevity aid or hinder his all-time status?
  • 0:42:30 What might be learned about modern football by watching historic matches?
  • 0:47:00 Looking for exellence in football/sports history
  • 0:51:00 How did Lukas build his “Team Of The Decade ’75-85”; what are his criteria for inclusion?
  • 0:57:00 Which “Team Of The Decade” is the easiest to break into?
  • 1:00:30 Are we living in a silver or even golden age of football right now?