Schumacher Shoulders Blame for 3-2 Defeat : West German Goaltender Claims He Was at Fault, but Coach Beckenbauer Disagrees
Of all the post-match comments that emerged from the World Cup locker rooms Sunday, those of West German goalkeeper Harald (Toni) Schumacher were the most honest.
“I’m to blame for Germany’s defeat,” Schumacher said, ignoring the fact that it was really only the first of the three Argentine goals that he could be faulted for allowing.
“This was the second World Cup final that I have played in, and I have done nothing that I expected.”
In Spain four years ago, it was the Italians who put three goals into Schumacher’s net. This time, it was the Argentines.
West German Coach Franz Beckenbauer, however, said that he was not going to rebuke his goalkeeper for Sunday’s defeat. The entire German defense, he said, had been caught by surprise.
“You can’t blame the goalkeeper,” Beckenbauer told reporters. “Possibly, this was not one of his better days, but you should not reproach him for that.”
Describing Argentina as “a great team and a great opponent that deserves to be champion.” Beckenbauer said it was a “lack of attention” by the German defense that allowed Argentina to score the winning goal.
“We were caught with our guard down,” he said, refering to the fact that West Germany was still celebrating its own goal when it yielded the goal that cost it the World Cup.
Team captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge echoed his coach’s remark, saying that the German players had been in a “state of euphoria” after tying the score, 2-2.
Beckenbauer’s counterpart, Argentine Coach Carlos Bilardo, certainly was not euphoric about the Germans’ tying goal. Asked afterward what he had been thinking at the time, Bilardo replied, deadpan:
“I was thinking that everything was not the way I would have liked it to be.”
Jorge Luis Burruchaga soon put that right, however, and that gave Bilardo the opportunity to expound on his favorite theory: that it is through teamwork and only through teamwork that success can be achieved.
“For a long time I have felt that football was a team sport,” he said. “I have said before that unless trainers, coaches and players combine, there can be no triumph. This was a triumph of the team and of teamwork.
“All individual talents must be blended into a whole. I think I have achieved this.”
His most successful achievement, of course, has been to persuade Diego Maradona to become more of a team-oriented player, to sublimate his own extraordinary skills for the good of the whole.
Maradona throughout the World Cup has been telling anyone who would listen just how close he and his coach are, and on Sunday Maradona even sounded like Bilardo.
“We never talk of individual players,” he said when asked if he believes he is the world’s best. “I have been playing for a long time and this (the World Cup victory) was a display of teamwork.
“We were hungry for victory and determined to fight. We had to fight a number of teams that played unfairly. The struggle was hard, but that made sweeter the victory.”
Surprisingly, it was not Maradona but Jose Luis Brown who put Argentina on the path toward its second World Cup with a well-taken goal in the first half.
“This goal was something very special to me,” he said. “I believe in God, and firmly so. When Burruchaga made the pass (actually, a free kick that set up the goal), I said a little prayer . . . This may well have been the happiest day of my life.”
Finally, Bilardo was asked what it all meant, what exactly are the lessons to be learned from Argentina’s second World Cup victory in eight years.
“I never look backwards, I always look ahead,” he said. “For Argentina, it is very important to have won the World Cup, but we must never rest on our laurels, we still have work to do. Now we must serve as an example.”
World Cup Notes
Sunday’s match was the 52nd of the tournament and its five goals brought the total for the 1986 World Cup to 132, or an average of 2.5 per game. That matched the all-time low average set in West Germany in the 1974 World Cup. . . . Azteca Stadium has been redecorated for each round of the tournament. Sunday’s motif was giant silver pinatas from which 400 kilograms of confetti and 100 kilograms of white chicken feathers were dropped onto the crowd at game’s end. Also adding color to the stadium was a triple row of the dove-of-peace emblems painted, probably not coincidentally, blue and white--the Argentine national colors. . . . With 13 World Cups having being played since 1930, still only six countries have ever won the quadrennial event. Brazil and Italy each have three victories, West Germany, Uruguay and Argentina each have two, and England has one. . . . Qualifying for the next World Cup, to be played in Italy in 1990, begins in 18 months time.