WorldAdam DigbyComment

After the storm

WorldAdam DigbyComment

Following the horror of Heysel, Juventus travelled to Tokyo for the Intercontinental Cup. Adamo Digby recalls the contribution of a certain Frenchman.

Sometimes a picture truly does speak a thousand words and when discussing the class, style and nonchalant grace of ease that was Michel Platini in his pomp, this picture taken during the 1985 Intercontinental Cup Final - is truly one of those images.

While the previously discussed 1996 triumph in the same competition announced the arrival of Alessandro Del Piero onto the world stage, the iconic number ten of the 80's was already a truly global star. By the time the Juventus reached Tokyo that year he was a three time Balon d'Or winner and had just been named World Player of the Year for the second succesive season, part of the 'carré magique' that led France to European Championship glory the previous summer and on his way to a hat-trick of Serie A top scorers titles (pause to reflect on the fact he played in midfield!) he was, beyond question and without peer, the best player in the world.

No, this triumph, on penalties over Copa Libertadores holders Argentinos Juniors, was not one of personal triumph or the coronation of a new hero, this victory was about the club and its fans gaining deserved recognition for their truly remarkable team. This confirmation should have come earlier that same year when, after a trophy laden eight years which saw Giovanni Trapattoni's men win every trophy available to them, they once again reached the European Cup Final. Runners up in 1983, the 'cup with the big ears' had become an obsession for this team, desperate to prove it belonged in the same breath as the other dominant sides of the era.

That 1985 final will never be remembered for football but instead for the indelible stain it left on a game (and two clubs) still marred by the tragedy of Heysel today. Thirty nine people who set off filled with hope went to watch a football match and never returned home, the game only going ahead to prevent further crowd trouble. No other clubs first European Cup victory can ever be so overshadowed.

Liverpool captain Phil Neal and Juve legend Gaetano Scirea addressed the crowd to appeal for calm before kick off. A one-nil victory, courtesy of a Platini penalty and Juventus celebrated the emptiest of wins on the field in front of their fans. Many players have denied knowledge of exactly what happened, but the events prior to kick-off will forever be rightly remembered ahead of the victory.

So it was to the Intercontinental Cup the players and supporters looked to, both to honour those lost and to truly claim their place among the greats. Their talismanic French star leading them with his usual majestic touches and having one of those unforgettable moments that all true icons have. Pele has his 'rounding the keeper' moment against Uruguay in 1970 and Platini matched the Brazilian here, taking three touches - never letting the ball hit the ground - before volleying it into the net. It was ruled out by the German referee, prompting Platini to simply lay on the turf in defiance, his disbelief at being denied a sumptuous goal clearly visible.

He did eventually get a goal - as did Michael Laudrup - in the 2-2 draw, and he added the winning penalty in the shootout but this was not a victory solely about Michel Platini. This was a victory for the Old Lady of Juventus, her fans and indeed for football.

You can follow Adamo on Twitter @Adz77 for insight into the Italian game, past and present.