A key protagonist in one of the most spectacular of all FIFA World Cup™ matches, France's 1982 semi-final against West Germany in Seville, Manuel Amoros was a full-back who offered an attacking edge while never losing sight of his defensive tasks.
As quick with his reactions as he was at racing down the wing, Amoros was a player who never had to resort to cynical methods to deny an opponent. More often than not, in fact, he would force his opposite number back into a defensive role by turning himself into a de facto forward on the left flank.
First spotted by AS Monaco scout Alberto Muro, the Nimes-born Amoros made his professional debut in 1980 at the age of 18. Things moved quickly and by February 1982, with the youngster helping Monaco's push for the French league title, he received a call-up from national coach Michel Hidalgo, who believed the unconventional defender would give the team a fresh dimension going forward.
He got his first run-out with Les Bleus against Italy in February 1982 and played an active role in the team's first win over their neighbours for more than 60 years. Just four months before the FIFA World Cup finals in Spain, he had embarked on what would prove a long spell in the national side – indeed his final tally of 82 caps would remain a French record for many years.
Totally at ease on the international stage, Amoros took little time to become a fixture in the France set-up, and his impressive physical qualities, fierce determination and distinctive work ethic meant he was never far from the heart of the action.
His first taste of the FIFA World Cup was to end in heartbreak at the semi-final stage, as France lost a 3-1 lead in extra time against West Germany before succumbing to defeat in the competition's first-ever penalty shoot-out.
France's energetic left-back had played a telling role in their run to the last four – in fact Hidalgo's side would not have made it out of the first round but for his vital intervention against Czechoslovakia in the final group game, Amoros heading Zdenek Nehoda's last-gasp shot off the line to save his side from defeat and elimination.
There were many more highlights to come. Amoros helped France claim the UEFA European Championship on home soil in 1984, and was named best left-back at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, when France suffered another semi-final loss to the Germans but secured third place by beating Poland, Amoros hitting his only international goal from the penalty spot to clinch a 4-2 win. Six years later, he finally called time on his international career after the European Championship in 1992.
At club level, he resisted a number of tempting offers from big European outfits and stayed loyal for a long time to Monaco, with whom he won two league titles and a French Cup. In June 1989, he moved to Olympique de Marseille and added a further three Ligue 1 medals to his list of honours. He also featured in the European Cup final against Red Star Belgrade in 1991, though he had the misfortune to miss the decisive spot-kick in the shoot-out as Marseille fell to defeat.
Impeded by arthritis in his hip, Amoros retired as a player at the age of 34 in 1996. When he reviews his career, there is no question about the strongest memory: that epic semi-final encounter with West Germany stands out above all else. "My entire career is great to look back on. I experienced happiness, emotion and sadness. With hindsight, I realise I lived through something quite fabulous. It was a superb experience, but if there's one game I remember above all the rest, it's France-Germany in 1982. At the time, I was young and a little unaware. I didn't know what I was going through, but today it's fabulous."
|10/07/1982||Alicante||POL||3:2 (2:1)||FRA||Match for third place|
|08/07/1982||Seville||FRG||3:3 a.e.t. (1:1, 1:1) 5:4 PSO||FRA||Semi-finals|
|04/07/1982||Madrid||FRA||4:1 (1:0)||NIR||Second round|
|24/06/1982||Valladolid||FRA||1:1 (0:0)||TCH||Group matches|
|21/06/1982||Valladolid||FRA||4:1 (2:0)||KUW||Group matches|