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rewind 1982

‘We were
New Z
Wynto ealander
named n Rufe
20th C Oceania r was
e play
into the ntury. He ha er of the

crazy guys
All d ju
qualify Whites team st broken
ing g for t
tourna ames before heir final
ment. the 19
H
coachin e now owns 82
g acad a
emy

treated like Gods’


+ New Zealand had a tortuous qualifying journey of 15 matches. You were
brought in with two matches to play, needing a couple of big results.
in the win in Singapore. We were treated as Gods. It was incredible and
unprecedented - massive front page stuff. Having scored the winner I went back
I was 18 and the only player based overseas, having just joined up with Norwich. to England and I was on the back of Shoot magazine. They usually did stories on
Two teams out of the final group of four went to the World Cup and Kuwait had Pele, Cruyff or Beckenbauer and there was Wynton Rufer. I mean, I had the Shoot
already qualified but the home game was given as a thankyou to the public. The magazine posters on my wall as a kid. Now they’re doing a story on me!
tickets were free from the prince so there were 40,000 people in the stadium five
hours before the game and 100,000 outside upset they couldn’t get in. We should + Were the All Whites a novelty act at the finals?
have been down about 5-0 when they scored. But Steve Sumner scored a classic We were. Imagine it: you qualify then next thing you know you’re in a group with
and a minute later, I sneaked one. They equalised in the 92nd minute. Scotland, Brazil and the Soviet Union. It was just a dream group for us really,
because we knew we weren’t going to win any games. Scotland were some side
+ That draw meant you needed to beat Saudi Arabia 6-0 away to qualify. ­– Kenny Dalglish, John Wark, Steve Archibald – it was just unbelievable to play
Instead you won 5-0 and got a playoff against China. If that happened now against those guys. And the Brazilians were one of the greatest teams to have
there would be rumblings of match fixing, surely? played in a World Cup without winning it. Socrates, Zico . . .
Yeah. We heard the Indonesian referee from the first Kuwait game in NZ got a
house from the Kuwaiti government. There was a lot of corruption at the time in + And I believe you missed meeting Pele?
football. But it was just a crazy game. We were playing on Astroturf for the first I was a bit of tourist and carried my camera everywhere. We played Brazil in
time, it was 35 degrees and we all had blood blisters on our feet, and halftime we Sevilla, a beautiful stadium and it was packed with a sea of yellow, because of
were up 5-0. It was a miracle. I got two but in the second half I hit the bar, hit the course everyone was a Brazilian fan. My family were in the stadium and I wanted
post and missed a couple of one on ones with the keeper. Football, it’s crazy. get a photo of them. So before the game, I was the only player out on the field,
taking advantage of it and they bring Pele into our rooms and introduce him
+ FIFA did you no favours with the playoff venue. to the whole team and I missed it! I met him a lot later through being on a FIFA
We were trying to get that game to be played in Melbourne but they chose committee, and still see him. But it was a classic, telling him that story.
Singapore. Neutral territory? What a joke. There were 58,000 Chinese in the
stands. But we got through 2-1. I got the second goal and became a hero + The home qualifier against Bahrain was massive thrill.
then in New Zealand, so it was a real fairytale. It was unbelievable. So exciting. All the comments from neutrals, from
rugby and cricket journalists, was that it was one of the greatest
+ You were the youngest player in team full of characters, described as a moments of NZ sport.
bunch of hard drinkers and skirt chasers. Were they really like that?
For sure. There was a lot of British influence back then. They were crazy guys. I + You were saying all week in the lead up that New Zealand were going
was a young idiot who joined in for the action. I’ve since become a Christian and through without a doubt. It might have backfired spectacularly.
changed my life but at that time I was a real nutter chasing the skirts. I wasn’t I was 100 percent that we couldn’t lose that game. I’d experienced it. ENZED @ THE CUP
really into the alcohol like the others but I definitely liked the girls. In something like that game, with the home advantage, you can’t 1982 in Spain
lose. You come out into a stadium like that as a player and Scotland 5 def NZ 2
+ What was the feeling like, going to Spain for the finals? it’s like being on the most amazing drugs ever. I reckon Soviet Union 3 def NZ 0
Wow. It was massive and we knew it. The whole thing was building, just a giant I could have played that game, with 10 chicks, and we Brazil 4 def NZ 0
wave of popularity which had grown from one success to the next and culminated still would have won!

images GETTY IMAGES


OTBALL+ presents 2010 WORLD CUP 127