Italy 3-1 West Germany
11 July 1982
World Cup Final
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid
Scorers: Rossi, Tardelli, Altobelli (Italy); Breitner (West Germany)

Peru took the UFWC title into the 1982 World Cup in Spain, only to be beaten 5-1 by Poland and Zbigniew Boniek. Poland had a great tournament and reached the semi-final but, without the suspended ‘Zibi’, they lost to Italy and two-goal Paolo Rossi. So Spain 82 culminated with another UFWC / World Cup final decider, between UFWC champions Italy and West Germany.

Italy had the likes of Dino Zoff, Guiseppe Bergomi, Marco Tardelli and the afore-mentioned Rossi. West Germany also had an impressive line-up, including Harald Schumacher, Paul Breitner, Pierre Littbarski and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. The Germans enjoyed the best of the first half, but Italy should have opened the scoring, with Antonio Cabrini missing a penalty, rolling the ball wide after a debatable foul on Bruno Conti. The game was goalless at half-time.

In the second half Italy began to show their superior technical ability and, in the 57th minute, Claudio Gentile’s curling cross eluded everyone but Rossi, whose stooping header shot past Schumacher to make the score 1-0.

With the Germans now forced to push forward in search of an equaliser, Italy exploited gaps at the back. First a wonderful passing move culminated in Rossi and Gaetano Scirea combining brilliantly to set up Tardelli, who scored with a curling low shot. Then a surging run from the excellent Conti set up Alessandro Altobelli, who sidestepped Schumacher and scored a third.

Breitner pulled one back for West Germany with seven minutes left to play, volleying home after the Italian defence failed to clear a free-kick, but his muted celebration showed that the Germans knew they were beaten. The final score was 3-1 to Italy.

40-year-old Italian keeper and captain Dino Zoff was presented with the World Cup trophy, while Paolo Rossi won the golden boot and golden ball as the tournament’s top goalscorer and best player.

Italy were champions, officially, unofficially and indisputably. But they lost the UFWC title to Switzerland in their very next game.


We’re presenting a series of UFWC World Cup Classics in the build-up to Brazil 2014. The above is an edited extract from the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions, which contains many more classic matches from the UFWC archives. The brand new 2014 edition is out now.

New UFWC book

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.