Football in the 80s: Responsible for History’s Best Players?
If you remember the 1980s, you’ll already probably be thinking of dodgy hair, strange clothes, and even dodgier pop music. However, it was actually an incredible decade for football. If you were lucky enough to catch a few matches between ’80 and ’89, you certainly would have been in for a treat.
A controversial opinion, maybe, but the 80s was undoubtedly a Golden Era for homegrown talent. 15-20 years out of World Cup success and long before the likes of Shearer, Beckham, Owen, and Rooney, this was a period truly unique to footy history. We didn’t have posing, preening centre forwards back then – we had Peter Beardsley.
However, yes – the decade was sadly rife with football hooliganism, disappointments and planes home from international tournaments. It was rife with tragedy, too – those who remember the Hillsborough Disaster are still thirsty for justice.
However, – let’s focus on the positives. It’s time we celebrated some of the most talented stars the 80s produced.
The Hand of God
We can’t talk about 80s football without mentioning Diego Maradona. A character on and off the pitch, his exceptional skills quickly made way for what became one of the most controversial World Cup moments of all time.
You’ve likely seen the same clip of the Argentine powerhouse punching the ball past Peter Shilton hundreds of times. For England supporters, it was heart-breaking. However, even though Maradona got away with what certainly amounts to intentional handball, it’s barely dinted an illustrious, eccentric career.
It’s easy to forget just how much of a lethal force John Barnes was in his prime. Sadly best remembered by many now for his dubious rapping attempts with New Order towards the end of the decade, the winger racked up an impressive 84 goals with Liverpool from 1987 onwards. He was right there when the team came second in the First Division – the first time they’d been in that position.
Not only that but look at all the decorations the Reds have received with Barnes on side. He was an integral – and often underrated – staple of the national side, too. Just don’t expect too much from his music credentials.
The Goal Bagger
Gary Lineker – you’ll either know him now as the face of BBC’s punditry or, of course, those bizarre TV ads where he pilfered people’s crisps. However, people quickly forget how effective the ‘golden boy’ of football was on the pitch.
Lineker spent four years at Barcelona during the 80s, though he was no stranger to running up English club records. He was a prolific goal scorer at Leicester before the move to Spain, and a cup winner with Spurs on his return. It’s safe to say Lineker’s name will come up if you ask any English football fan to name a player that made big in the 80s. However, it’s rare many will remember how lucrative his talents actually were.
Okay – so, each decade has seen British teams take their fair share of heartaches. However, it’s always worth dipping into the archives to check out how good we had it in the 80s. Why not take a trip back in time with a few match replays some time?