The men who set the world alight in ’94

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

Roberto BAG­GIO Italy: b. 1967 PONY-TAILED play­maker whose skill level and in­ven­tion have not al­ways been ap­pre­ci­ated by his coun­try.

As the world’s most ex­pen­sive player at Italia 90 he flat­tered only to de­ceive, scor­ing a quite bril­liant in­di­vid­ual goal against Cze­choslo­vakia but fail­ing where it counted in the later knock­out stages.

Three years later he was voted Euro­pean and World Foot­baller of the Year and at USA 94 was a sen­sa­tion, al­most sin­gle-hand­edly drag­ging Italy to the fi­nal.

Saved the Az­zurri against Nige­ria with two late strikes, grabbed the win­ner against Spain in a vi­o­lent quar­ter-fi­nal and then both goals in the semi-fi­nal win over Bul­garia.

Iron­i­cally, it was his skied penalty in the fi­nal shootout against Brazil that con­demned Italy to an un­lucky de­feat.

Buried his penalty hoodoo by con­vert­ing his spot kick in the 1998 shoot-out with France but it was not enough to stop the Az­zurri from ex­it­ing to the even­tual win­ners.

Was over­looked for the 2002 fi­nals de­spite a clam­our for him to go, be­fore re­tir­ing in 2004. RO­MARIO Faria de Souza Brazil: b. 1966 CON­TRO­VER­SIAL for­ward who mixed raw op­por­tunism and ex­cep­tional cool in front of goal with a fiery tem­per­a­ment on and off the pitch – “the night is my friend,” he was fond of say­ing.

Starred in Brazil’s 1988 Olympic team and with PSV in Hol­land be­fore a move to Barcelona in 1993 saw his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer take off.

Pro­vided a ra­zor-sharp cut­ting edge to a largely prag­matic Brazil team at USA 94, scor­ing the win­ner against Swe­den in the semi-fi­nals. He also scored against them in the group stages, with fur­ther strikes against Cameroon, Rus­sia and Hol­land tak­ing his tally to five.

He missed out on the 1998 World Cup through in­jury and was over­looked by coach Luis Felipe Sco­lari for the 2002 fi­nals de­spite be­ing the top-scorer in the Brazil­ian first di­vi­sion for the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons.

In May 2007 he scored what he claimed was his 1,000th ca­reer goal in a game be­tween Vasco da Gama and Sport Re­cife. Hristo STO­ICHKOV Bul­garia: b. 1966 THE sin­gle most im­por­tant fac­tor be­hind Bul­garia’s emer­gence as a world foot­ball power.

Dy­namic for­ward with a vi­cious left-foot and sear­ing pace. Ran straight at the heart of de­fences, but was equally adept from dead-ball sit­u­a­tions.

Ex­pert at draw­ing fouls, though his tem­per­a­ment of­ten let him down.

Bul­garia hadn’t won a game in six World Cup tour­na­ments but Sto­ichkov soon changed that with two penal­ties in a 4-0 thrash­ing of Greece. Was out­stand­ing in a 2-0 de­feat of Ar­gentina, scor­ing again, as he did against Mex­ico in the sec­ond round.

Sto­ichkov and Bul­garia’s finest hour came in the quar­ters, how­ever, when Ger­many were beaten. Sto­ichkov curled in a ma­jes­tic free-kick in the 2-1 win. He was also on tar­get in the semi-fi­nal de­feat by Italy to fin­ish the tour­na­ment’s joint top scorer with six goals.

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