When Scotland tackled the Uruguay Football World Cup team in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, they had to triumph to get out of the group. Instead, with Sir Alex Ferguson in charge, they were held to a 0-0 draw in what was a fierce, intense clash.
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The South Americans were abridged to 10 men after just 56 seconds after Jose Batista’s terrible challenge on Gordon Strachan. It set the tone for the residue of the game a bitter, prickly affair with the Uruguay Football World Cup player’s whizzes in the dark arts.
There was much to grumble about in the result and rightly so. Ferguson bore the brunt of the reproach after he decided to drop the 33-year-old Graeme Souness, who had been struggling in the intense heat. But, according to Craig Brown who was part of Ferguson’s back-room team, there was another reason why Scotland was heading home first.
“A player who gave the greatest individual performance I’ve ever seen,” is how he described Enzo Francescoli.
By that period, the playmaker had already been voted the best player in Argentina, after supervisory River Plate to the 1986 title. He positioned impeccably into the history of adroit, playmaking talent the country expert in and was an inspiring, boisterous star for the club. But he signed for RC Paris in France after the FIFA World Cup the start of an eight-year stint in Europe.
He excelled in the French capital but never won anything and the Uruguay Football World Cup team ultimately went insolvent. When Marseille came calling, it seemed a perfect fit. And in his retiring campaign with them, he has capped a champion. To know more about FIFA World Cup Tickets click here.
Despite only staying at the club for just one season, Francescoli’s legacy is massively strong there and his effect and impact are irrefutable.
“He was my favorite player and I used to hang around to watch him train,”Zinedine Zidane
The pair did meet. On the pitch too. In 1996, just after Zidane had moved to Juventus, they faced River Plate in the Worldwide Cup in Tokyo. Juve had beaten Ajax in the Champions League final while River, with Francescoli as captain, got the better of Colombian side America in the Copa Libertadores trial.
Before he tackled Zidane in Japan, Francescoli was told of how he was the French midfielder’s pinup. The shirt was for Zidane’s toddler child who had been born the previous March. Zidane, as a sign to his preferred ever player, had called him Uruguay Football World Cup legend Enzo.
Zidane later exposed that Enzo now 22 and part of the Real Madrid squad dozed in Francescoli’s jersey as a baby.
Twice called as the best player in South America, he strangely managed to do it a decade apart (1984 & 1995). At the time, he worked a lonely groove for the Uruguay Football World Cup team. The likes of Daniel Fonseca and Ruben Sosa were an attired enough supporting cast but the group just wasn’t robust enough.
There were distresses at FIFA World Cup tournaments second-round exits in ’86 and ’90 and he wriggled to properly leave his mark in Italy too during stints with Cagliari and Torino. Still, with his hypnotic, balletic crusade, quick feet, magnetic touches, and those dark, dipped eyes, ‘The Prince’ is a hero, a sign, and football royalty.
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