FIFA.com: Marco, let's talk about the FIFA World Cup.
How difficult is it for a player to step up from club competition
onto the biggest stage of all?
Marco Tardelli: Well, it means reaching the next level. You set yourself goals and when you've achieved them you move onto the next one. And so on. Of course it's also every boy's dream to one day play in a World Cup.
Did you watch the FIFA World Cup as a boy? What do you remember most?
I did watch it. I vividly remember the 1970 tournament when Italy played Brazil in the Final. It's a pleasant memory. I'm not sure why I remember it so well. I suppose because it was one of the few occasions when Italy gave a good account of themselves.
How does it feel to play for your country?
At a World Cup you are keenly aware you are representing your country. To think at that moment in time you are the most important person in your country. Then, if you are lucky enough to do well, like we did in 1982, and win, it has repercussions off the field too. We saw a real boom in 'Made in Italy' products afterwards.
Ok. So let's talk about your first FIFA World Cup in 1978. Do you remember your first match?
Oh, that's the middle ages. Let's talk about my first match?
Yes, your first match at a FIFA World Cup.
My first World Cup.... wonderful. It's a tremendous memory, because World Cups were always very difficult for me. I was under a lot of pressure at the end of the season, because I was a temperamental sort of player and I arrived at the tournament on the back of a lot of criticism in the press, who didn't want me in the side. They said I was washed up after the league season. That I was running on empty. I was always at war with the journalists but I'm pleased to say I always won. So I arrived very excited and desperate to prove myself. I needed to prove them wrong for everybody, for my family, for my parents. It was a turning point, and I was under enormous pressure.
Do you remember how your first FIFA World Cup began in Argentina?
Yes, when I ran out on the pitch I put all my other worries aside and just concentrated on football. Nothing else existed. I can't say I experienced any great emotion. For me the most emotional time as a player was - apart from the 1982 World Cup - when I began playing for Juventus in Serie A. When I first played for the national team too. It was an incredible feeling.
Tell us a little about the Italian team in 1978?
A superb team. Very complete, well-balanced and full of great players. There was Benetti, Cabrini, Rossi. That was when Rossi burst on the scene. I felt good in that team. We could've reached the Final the way we played.
Who were your best friends in the team?
I tend to try get along with everybody. Then, naturally, there are those who you warm to and those who you don't. I became friends with Gentile, with Rossi, with Scirea, with Zoff.
You said that you deserved to win the tournament in 78. So why didn't you?
Honestly, we didn't do much wrong. Argentina actually lost a match against us. There was some weird situation. Three of our players, me, Benedetti, and another important player had all been booked, so we wouldn't have played the Final anyway. But we didn't reach the Final so I didn't play in the third place play-off.
Two questions: how was the atmosphere in the camp back in 1978 ? How did the Italian media see you, and how did you see yourselves?
The Italian press was always very sceptical of Bearzot. He was a great man, with exceptional charisma. He was also very cultivated. But he wasn't great at dealing with the press. And we really suffered from that. For every tournament, including the Euro, he was under fire. In Italy you have the north, the south and the centre. The journalists from the north only care about the northern players, the journalists from the south only care about southern players, and so on. Each group of journalists had their favourite player. But Bearzot never took that into consideration.
What did you admire in Bearzot? Was it his tactical sense?
He was a great technician because he believed in his men. He was never swayed by a player's popularity. He believed in the group as a whole and in his players. He stuck with his players through their ups and downs. Lesser coaches tend to pick players when they are enjoying a good spell. For instance I was having a bad spell before the 1978 World Cup, but he believed in me and took me with him. And I had a terrific tournament.
Let's talk about the big one, the 1982 tournament. How did you feel, mentally and physically, before the kick off?
As usual I was in bad shape at the end of the season. I had picked up an injury and I shouldn't really have played the last game of the season. Then I went to the World Cup and everything went well. Juventus had won the League so everything was great mentally, but I was really tired.
Then Italy came in for a lot of criticism.
Which ended up helping us. I don't know if the press were being hard on us to make us want to prove them wrong or not. That's what they said later, but I don't know if it's true.
Did it work? Did you feel the criticism was unjust and want to hit back or did you just see it as biased?
We thought they were being biased as usual. We reacted by not speaking to the press. They had also criticied the fact that some players' wives had come to see their husbands in Spain. So we decided not to speak to them anymore. Which worked out fine.
So, the first round was full of thrills and spills. You qualified by drawing with Cameroon. How was the team feeling at this stage?
In Argentina we got off to a good start then physically slumped in the second round. In Spain we prepared differently and got off to a poor start but came into our own when it mattered most. But we felt strong throughout. Like we were invincible. We were criticised in the press but Bearzot always had faith in us. And we repaid his trust.
Then you scored against Argentina, along with Antonio Cabrini. Do you remember the match, the thrill of scoring?
We had played well against a very strong Argentinian side including Passarella, Maradona and so on. Our tactics were good and we scored great goals to win the game. I remember my goal fondly. I think it was Antognoni who set me up. I shot from the left just inside the box. What a feeling it was. An incredible joy. I had never scored in the World Cup before, though I went close in 78. It was such a fabulous sensation I can't really explain it. No-one can understand it. I felt like I was going to explode.
Passarella, interviewed in Argentina, said great things about you. Could you tell us a bit about the Argentinians, and Passarella in particular?
The Argentinians were great players. They had proved it before and would prove it again in 86, when they won the World Cup thanks to Maradona. He was something else. They also had Ardiles and Gallego who made the team tick. Gallego was the more physical of the two,while Ardiles had more of a cultured game. They were a South American team with something of a European mentality, which made them pretty awesome. They weren't like other South American sides who seemed to play for fun and try to score if the occasion presented itself, like Brazil. I think Brazil were maybe a better team than us at the time, but they lacked a really good striker. Serginho wasn't as good as Zico, Socrates or Falcao. Still they were an excellent team, although defensively less so. They could ship goals at any time. Argentina did very well against us. Passarella had played in Europe so he understood our mentality.
Were you more pumped up to play against certain teams? When you played against the bigger teams for example?
We always performed well against teams of our level. We might have lost against Cameroon, who were a rising force, and later proved to be a major football nation, or against Peru, or other teams considered "inferior". We could lose against stronger teams too, but we generally gave a good account of ourselves.
Defeating Brazil was quite a scalp, wasn't it?
I was more actually more scared of France than Brazil at the time. We were happy when France lost to Germany because we fancied our chances more against Germany than France.
The French were no doubt delighted that you beat Germany after what happened in their semi-final.
We were worried about France. Nobody expected them to be so strong, but I knew Michel Platini, Bernard Lacombe and Jean Tigana. They were great players.
Let's talk about the Final then. We can bypass Italy-Poland unless you have any specific memories of this game.
None in particular. I remember they were without Boniek, which helped us.
Italy-Germany: of course I want to talk about your famous scream. On the internet your goal is mentioned as being one of the most memorable in the game's history. Why did you scream so loud?
Because it was such a release. Scoring in the Final and realising a dream. I had a job I never considered to be work. It was just a game. I never experienced any mental pain from my job, physical pain, yes. But it was always fun to get up in the morning and go training. I also felt released from a certain [section of the press], which had always lambasted us. It was like we were at war with them. But we won in the end.
Where did the amazing scream come from?
Probably like I said, I was born with the scream, it didn't just emerge at that moment. You live your life and have some good experiences and some bad ones. Then it all comes out at that moment.
Were you aware of that at the time?
No, that came later.
So you won this match. Did you realise what was happening, did you realise you were champions of the world?
No. Just that it was all over. It sunk in that we were world champions when it was all over. That evening it was already over and done with. But we had to carry on. Then things got more dramatic. But you couldn't give any more than you had. We were spent after pushing ourselves to the limit. You go into a kind of mental limbo.
When the referee blew his whistle did you realise you were a world champion? Did you fall on the ground, did you hug someone?
Yes, we all hugged each other. I remember a picture of me passing a bottle of mineral water. I don't quite remember what I did, but I remember that we hugged each other passionately. I always experienced victory in a solitary way. It was a victory for the team, but it was also my victory. A victory over my life.
Then you lifted the Trophy.
Honestly, I was never interested in trophies. I had won the Cup, but I wasn't interested in lifting it up.
But you did hold it up.
Yes, I think we all did. But I didn't remember it till I saw a video made by English television and I saw myself raising the cup.
Here it is (hands over the FIFA World Cup Trophy).
Is this the real one? It's beautiful.
What does it make you think of?
Moments in my career.
What do you think of the Trophy, its shape?
It's a beautiful piece of sculpture. I always liked it a lot: the man raising the ball, which is the world. I think we need to change certain rules in the world of football. The world of football is in on the pitch: we should be more attentive to that.
About the Trophy itself, which is, by the way, the work of an Italian sculptor named Gazzaniga, what would you think if you saw it in a museum?
Why not. It really is a beautiful object; it's a wonderful idea. It could easily be in a museum. There's already a museum of football, but it could be... I won't say in the Louvre, because I don't want to insult the Louvre, but it stands alongside the most important sculptures.
How do you explain that this Trophy is probably the most popular and most famous of all trophies? Everybody recognises it, including people who don't care about football.
I don't know. Probably thanks to Gazzaniga. Maybe it's because of the popularity of football.
It isn't a typical type of cup.
No, it's not a typical cup. I think it really expresses the idea of the world of football. A typical cup wouldn't give the idea of the world united by football. This one does.
Do you remember going back to Italy ?
Going home was really fantastic, with all those people welcoming us, being so happy. They had never dared imagine we would win the World Cup. It was all great, but I was someone who enjoyed being alone. So I went to my ex-wife's house and did nothing in particular.
But, Pertini's invitation.
We went to see Pertini because you can't refuse the president's invitation.
You wanted to enjoy your victory secretly.
Not secretly... I always enjoyed things by myself. Maybe it's a negative thing, but... man is born alone and dies alone. That's the way I am, and I live things in a very quiet and personal way.