The defining moment of Dino Zoff's career may have been lifting the 1982 FIFA World Cup for Italy aged 40, but 14 years earlier he had been part of another major triumph as the Azzurri won the 1968 UEFA European Championship on home soil. The goalkeeper made his Italy debut in the two-legged quarter-final versus Bulgaria and kept a clean sheet in the semi-final against the Soviet Union at the home of his club side Napoli, the Azzurri going through on the toss of a coin. Zoff was beaten in the 1-1 final draw with Yugoslavia in Rome, yet two days later Italy triumphed 2-0 in the replay to land the trophy. He recalls it here.
The semi-final in Naples...
It was a memorable game and we played very well. It was special for me because I was playing for Napoli at that time. The atmosphere was incredible as the San Paolo was completely sold out.
We were down to ten men after five minutes because [Gianni] Rivera was injured. At that time there was no such thing as substitutes so we had to play practically the whole game with ten men. We concentrated on defending well. I kept goal comfortably, with fairly precise handling.
The result was that the match had to be decided on the toss of a coin. The two captains and the referee went off to the dressing rooms. We won the toss. Then everybody was back on the pitch, where the fans were waiting to hear what had happened. It was a great triumph to come through all the qualifying rounds and get into the final – even if it was on the toss of a coin – so everyone was really happy.
In Rome we had enormous problems against Yugoslavia, who had a very good side to tell you the truth. They went 1-0 ahead and then we got a free-kick very near the end of the match that allowed [Angelo] Domenghini to put us level. To be honest, we didn't deserve to draw. But we finished level, so the final had to be replayed two days later. In the replay we produced a perfect performance and won 2-0 thanks to goals by [Gigi] Riva and [Pietra] Anastasi. We definitely deserved to win that game.
Vital clean sheets...
We had also beaten Bulgaria 2-0 in the first match, so I conceded one goal in four games.
The important thing wasn't Dino Zoff's goalkeeping, though, but victory for the team.
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