The 1990 World Cup in Ital is roundly criticised by pundits as being one of the most dour tournaments ever.
However, for the fans of my generation- as our first true taste of the greatest international competition – the tournament has an air of the exotic and retains its romance even to this day.
Amid the draws and defensive football of Italia ’90 there are still so many instances of magic.
There is the performance of Cameroon, who finally put Africa on the football map, unlucky losers in the quarter-final against England but propelled by the dancing Roger Milla they stunned a number of top teams – including Argentina in the group phase.
Despite not winning a single game in normal time throughout the tournament. The Republic of Ireland bundled their way into quarter-finals only to lose to hosts Italy.
Maradona produced another moment of brilliance, his mazy run and clinical threaded pass allowing Claudio Cannigia to score the only goal in the round of 16 game against Brazil.
And then there was England.
Under Bobby Robson, hammered by the press in the run-up to the tournament, England, once they gathered momentum, actually began to look like a football team.
Failing to impress in the groups, England built up steam with David Platt’s fantastic volley against Belgium and Gary Linker’s two penalties (including dives) against Cameroon before eventually losing to the Germans on penalties.
The run produced many unforgettable moments, Paul Gascoigne’s tears in the semi final, Chris Waddle’s penalty miss, which brought the journey to the end, and Bobby Robson’s dance down the touchline.
And for that summer, to the soundtrack of New Order’s World in Motion, a technically gifted England side finally made a nation believe.