BY HARRY HARRIS
The 1990 World Cup remains a cherished memory for English football supporters. From the official World Cup song, World in Motion, released before the tournament all the way through to England's agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to eventual champions West Germany, the summer of 1990 proved to be a watershed moment for the national game following an horrendous decade which almost saw it banned by Margaret Thatcher's government.
The then Chief Football Writer of the Daily Mirror, Harry Harris, was in attendance for the full seven weeks the England squad were in Italy. From pre-tournament build-up to the final in Rome, he was privy to the many inside scoops on the various controversies surrounding the squad that have remained mysteries to this day; why did captain Bryan Robson return home early? Did a quorum of senior players really dictate tactics to manager Bobby Robson? Was the manager the incompetent nice guy he was painted by the press or was that a front hiding one of the shrewdest tactical brains in the game?
Going into the tournament Bobby Robson was an unwilling victim in the nasty tabloid war between Rupert Murdoch's Sun and Robert Maxwell's Mirror. As both tabloids sought to outdo one another, so the England boss was castigated by both. Yet the success of his team soon forced both tabloids to accept him as England's best manager since Sir Alf Ramsey and, for all the negative headlines, the mild-mannered Geordie bore no hard-feelings toward the press men, particularly the sports writers who were often victims of 'the rotters' - hard-nosed news journalists who would stop at nothing to get a story.
Harry Harris has tracked down each and every member of Robson's squad for their recollection of the tournament and their memories of some of the controversies. When they returned home they were given a heroes' reception as tens of thousands of fans lined the streets, it was only then that the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker and Chris Waddle realised that their lives would never quite be the same again... this then is the inside story of the summer that changed English football.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
HARRY HARRIS is a double winner of the British Sports Journalist of the Year award, who has successfully investigated football corruption, including producing dossiers on two former England managers. Harry was presented with the British Variety Club of Great Britain Silver Heart for “Contribution to Sports Journalism”, is a double winner of the Sports Story of the Year award, the only journalist to win the Sports Story of the year accolade twice. He has a total of 24 industry awards, a number related to his investigations into the murkier side of the Beautiful Game.