Echoes of an Italian Summer by Paul Grech – Book Review

Echoes Of An Italian Summer by Paul Grech - Book Review

By Karl Hornsey

Anyone interested in international football has ‘their’ World Cup. It can be for purely personal reasons such as where you were at that time, be that physically or how old you were, or any number of things that mean you can remember more about that World Cup than you can about something that happened only yesterday. For author Paul Grech, his is the 1990 World Cup staged in Italy, and in one way it was partly mine too.

The 1982 tournament is still the one I revere the most and have become obsessed with, it being the first I remember taking place, but 1990 was the first at which I could (almost) legally drink alcohol, and that has to play its part.

Leaving personal feelings and memories aside, Italia ’90 has taken on something of a mythical status, so it’s great that Grech acknowledges that when you watch it back again, it really was exceptionally poor on the playing front. Goals per game were, and remain, the lowest for any World Cup, and too many nations resorted to dismal and negative tactics to prevail, so it’s largely for off-field events and some of the characters involved that it’s become so cherished.

Echoes Of An Italian Summer by Paul Grech

“Laced with facts and nuggets”

As Grech also notes, this isn’t a diary of what happened on the field or an in-depth study of where the tournament was won or lost. That has been covered on many other occasions, so sensibly this is about taking some of the more obscure players, managers and quirks of fate that have been lost in the mists of time, and giving them their rightful place in the sun.

As well as those lesser-known tales, there are still chapters on those that have become synonymous with the tournament, including leading scorer Toto Schillachi, iconic Cameroon striker Roger Milla and Brazilian goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel, all laced with facts and nuggets of information that will be unknown to even the most ardent of World Cup addicts.

Echoes Of An Italian Summer is a well-researched book, with subjects such as the impact of West Germany’s kit, the lost legacy of Italian football stadia and how the back pass rule changed football all well worth reading. There are minor niggles that ought to have been picked up, such as saying that the Germans won the 1950 World Cup and Alan McInally’s name being spelt two different ways in the space of a page, but that aside, this is an interesting read that manages to reawaken the feelings of what the tournament meant to so many people, and how football was never quite the same again.

Echoes Of An Italian Summer by Paul Grech is available from Pitch Publishing. £14.99


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