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Italian teeth flashed in the dark,
The fireworks gushed in streams of praise,
As all around the light-bathed park,
Those blue-clad athletes danced on baize.
His team-mates, crying and distraught,
Slumped to the ground in weariness,
Sad victims of a cruel sport
That gives complete reward for less.
But in amongst the two extremes,
One figure cast a shadow tall,
Head crumpled by those shattered dreams,
Although he was not there at all.
Macbeth and Hamlet raised a glass
And toasted his heroic frame,
Now rent forever ‘pon the grass
Whereon he speared the greatest shame.
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Was this how it was meant to end –
A vicious thrust from wounded bull?
That final walk without a friend,
Senses mangled, numbed and dull.
In horror, millions on TV
Gaped open-mouthed at his assault
As, like a Roman tragedy,
He came undone through one slight fault.
The memories of ninety eight,
The Arc de Triomphe bathed in light,
Perceptibly did dissipate
Into the storm-rent Berlin night.
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And how will we remember him
When many moons have come and gone?
As fleet of foot and sure of limb,
A star that in sheer brilliance shone?
Or will we evermore recall
The picture of that sudden lunge,
The moment of his total fall
That even time cannot expunge.
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Like the games that went before it,
The defenders were on top.
As many people saw it,
The attackers were a flop.
Oh where was Gerdy Muller,
Paolo Rossi, Just Fontaine
To add a little colour
To a midfield-led campaign?
To finish with conviction
Is the hardest skill of all,
And they all had the affliction
Of misjudging the new ball.
The Italians, worthy winners,
Had no forwards who could score,
Like amateurish beginners
Who could not complete the chore.