Spurs at the World Cup - Gary and Gazza, Italia 90
09 June 2014|Tottenham Hotspur
As the World Cup draws ever closer, we continue to feature Spurs players to have stepped out on football's biggest stage.
Up next, two Spurs stars help set the world alight in 1990...
Paul Gascoigne - Spurs 1988-1991, 112 appearances, 33 goals
Gary Lineker - Spurs 1989-1992, 138 appearances, 80 goals
England’s storming run to the 1990 World Cup semi-finals was built around the goals of Gary Lineker and the artistry of Paul Gascoigne - two Spurs players in top form at the time.
The duo had just helped us finish third in Division One, Lineker top-scoring with 24 goals in the league and Gazza providing so many assists from midfield, and were well worthy of their places in Bobby Robson’s squad which travelled to Italy.
Lineker of course was the reigning Goldon Boot winner, having scored six times at the 1986 tournament as England were knocked out by Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal in the quarter-finals. Gascoigne, who only featured in two qualifying matches for the 1990 event, was something of an unknown on the international scene before the tournament began. By the end, he was a household name around the world.
It was ace marksman Lineker who got England off to a flyer in their first group match against Republic of Ireland in Cagliari, scoring after just eight minutes. Ireland hit back to force a 1-1 draw, before England shared a goalless draw with Holland in the next match. Needing a win in their final game with Egypt, Gascoigne’s free-kick was headed home by Mark Wright for the only goal and England were on the march.
A second round clash with Belgium was then decided by David Platt’s 119th-minute volley as penalties loomed large - Gascoigne again the creator - before Lineker displayed nerves of steel in the quarter-final showdown with Cameroon, coolly slotting home two penalties to help England overcome the Indomitable Lions 3-2.
That set up a mouth-watering semi-final against West Germany in Turin, in what many believe was the match of the tournament. In a game which ebbed and flowed and had the world gripped, Lineker again came to England’s rescue 10 minutes from time to level the scores at 1-1 after Andreas Brehme had put the Germans ahead.
Gascoigne was majestic in midfield, pulling the strings throughout but one of the most dramatic moments of the tournament came in the ninth minute of extra time, when Gazza was booked for a foul on Thomas Berthold. It was his second of the competition, and would rule him out of the final had England reached it. The image of Gascoigne close to tears as Lineker signals to the bench and says ‘have a word with him’ is an iconic memory.
As it was, England lost 4-3 on penalties, despite Lineker converting their first of the shootout, and missed out on the World Cup Final. Gascoigne - for his performances and his emotions - had endeared himself to football fans across the nation and the greatest player of his generation had arrived.