"England were outstanding, we had to keep an eye on Gazza" – Lothar Matthäus remembers that night in Turin at Italia 90

Paul Gascoigne
(Image credit: Getty)

For England fans of a certain vintage, the semi-final of Italia 90 still stings. The Three Lions were defeated in Turin that evening by the eventual tournament winners, West Germany, in a nail-biting fixture which went all the way to penalties following a 1-1 draw. 

Long before Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle missed the decisive kicks from 12-yards, there was drama and anguish galore, including Paul Gascoigne's tears after he received a booking which meant he would miss the final whatever the outcome of the match. 

In Germany, of course, the memories of that night are recalled fondly, not least by those who went on to win the tournament as part of Franz Beckenbauer's squad. One of those was team captain Lothar Matthäus, who tells the March edition of FourFourTwo that the game was among the most eventful he ever played in. 

"It was one of the best matches of the whole Italia 90 tournament," Matthäus tells FFT now. "England were an outstanding team and also deserved to reach the final for their performance that night."

Despite the heartbreaking exit, Gazza was among the stars of that competition, with the then-23 year old's midfield displays winning praise across the globe. Matthäus admits the then-Spurs creator was someone he and his team-mates had to watch closely. 

"Paul Gascoigne was a player we knew we’d have to keep an eye on," he says. "He had vision and strength, but he could dribble like a forward despite playing deeper, in midfield."

Ultimately, England fell short while their conquerors triumphed in the Rome final against Argentina. Yet Matthäus believes the finest of margins prevented England from winning a second World Cup that summer. 

"Unfortunately for them, England maybe lost the emotional battle of that game – not just with Gazza, but when it came to the penalties, too," Matthäus recalls, with a nod to Gascoigne's tears. "Thankfully, we remained a bit more calm and focused. That was the only difference in the end."

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.