As a Liverpool supporter, I enjoy reading autobiographies of great players including Sir Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard and John Barnes, as well as other football books that look at Liverpool’s history. In addition, I also enjoy reading about international football, including the England national team and the World Cup.
As I write this, the 2018 World Cup in Russia is currently taking centre stage, which has already seen a number of surprises. During matches, I have just finished reading World in Motion by Simon Hart, which looks at the inside story of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, and how its impact changed football forever.
Once I started reading, I was hooked and absorbed by how the book painted a fascinating and colourful picture of Italia 90. From Gazza’s tears, England’s journey to self-final heartbreak, to the emergence of Cameroon, Costa Rica and the Republic of Ireland on the World Cup stage, the book chronicles a tournament put to the memorable sounds of New Order’s World in Motion.
World in Motion is more than just about football. Instead it leads you on a journey through a period in history, before the age of the Premier League, and the evolution of the game into the billion-pound industry that we know today. Told through interviews with key players from Italia 90, the book explores and vividly describes the experiences, emotions and circumstances of the players, supporters and countries, at a time of change with the Cold War ending, the Berlin Wall falling down, and cultural barriers between East and West disappearing.
The interviews themselves are a tremendous collection of anecdotes, which are funny, entertaining, yet also poignant reminders of a different time. From all over the world, these interviews include several key players from Italia 90, including Cameron’s Roger Milla, Italy’s star striker and World Cup leading scorer Toto Schillaci, and also England’s Terry Butcher, team captain on that dramatic Turin semi-final against West Germany.
I found the players stories to be very interesting, with some making me laugh, and also thinking about what if results had turned out differently. Indeed there were several times, when I thought about those two words “what if”. These include what if Paul Gascoigne hadn’t been booked, what if Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle had scored in that heartbreaking penalty shootout, what if Cameroon had gone further, or what if Yugoslavia had beaten Argentina. Reading the book, there were so many moments that made me think about “what if”, which is one of the reasons why I loved World in Motion as a book.
Overall I found World in Motion to be a superb engrossing read, well researched and put together by Simon Hart, with the interviews giving this book a big heart, and a strong sense of nostalgia. If you are a football fan, I wholeheartedly recommend it, as it captures the spirit and essence of Italia 90. For those who remember watching the tournament, every one of the 384 pages will take you back in time, to those hot summer days of Italia 90.
To conclude this review, I would like to leave you with a montage of Italia 90, put to the memorable music of Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma.
Hope it brings back the memories!