Voeller – Roma vs Milan – 1989

18 09 2010

Goals… And The Stories Behind Them…

Ok. So not exactly the story behind it.. more the story that followed it. 

In January 1989, Milan were the champions of Italy and soon to become the champions of Europe and the World. However, their Serie A challenge that season was faltering. Frank Rijkaard had joined the club that summer and was enduring a mixed start to his Milan career. He was soon to be converted from a defender to a midfielder by coach Arrigo Sacchi. After 13 games the Rossoneri were languishing in 8th place, an alarming 9 points behind rivals Inter.. and these were the days of 2 points for a win. Game week 14 saw a tricky trip to the Stadio Olimpico to face AS Roma who were a point above them in the table…

Roma had enjoyed an impressive 3rd place finish the previous season and boasted club legends Bruno Conti and Giuseppe Giannini in their midfield. Their star player, however, was striker Rudi Voeller aka il tedesco volante – the flying German. Voeller had arrived at Roma the previous season with a big reputation having scored in the 1986 World Cup Final and bagging a staggering 97 goals in 137 league games for Werder Bremen. Despite this, he had endured a difficult first season in Italy finding the net just 3 times in Serie A and things were looking little better in this second season with just a solitary goal before Christmas.

An early goal from full-back Mauro Tassotti had given the visiting champions an early lead. Then, however, Tassotti was caught out – Voeller took up a position behind him to receive the ball from a throw-in.. Rijkaard, seemingly realising Voeller’s position too late, was caught out and desperately trying to make up the ground. His lunge at Voeller only diverts the ball onto the German’s foot and towards the surprised Giovanni Galli in the Milan goal. Check out the celebrations from Voeller himself and the Roma officials behind the goal:

In the context of the match itself, the goal was hardly significant. Milan went on to win the game 3-1 thanks to Marco van Basten but Rijkaard’s error perhaps crystallised the view in Sacchi’s mind that the Dutchman’s future lay in midfield. Alessandro Costacurta later cemented his position at the heart of the most famous back four of its generation and, although Trapattoni’s Inter could not be caught in Serie A, Milan were to win the European Cup that year and the next.

As for Voeller, his goalscoring fortunes were to improve dramatically and he succeeded in turning his career in the Italian capital around. His finest hour in the Stadio Olimpico was not in a Roma shirt however. The following year he won the penalty that won Germany the Italia ’90 World Cup… but only after he and Rijkaard had made headlines for all the wrong reasons earlier in the tournament – this time at the Dutchman’s club stadium, the San Siro. Perhaps big Frank remembered that day at the Stadio Olimpico less than 18 months earlier…

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