The Mundialito (Mini World Cup)

From 30 December, 1980 to 10 January, 1981, the Mundialito was played in Montevideo, Uruguay. My stepfather took me to watch the final live on closed circuit television. I was in heaven – seeing live matches back then was truly a spectacle. And to see Brazil was a special treat. It was my first time ever seeing them play live. I was raised to appreciate jogo bonito.

The Mundialito was a friendly tournament commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first World Cup tournament. The participants were Uruguay, Italy, West Germany, Brazil, Holland, and Argentina. Each nation were former World Cup winners save the 1974 and 1978 runners-up Holland who were participating instead of England. England had turned down the invitation to join the other winners.

Prior to the final, I was able to watch most of the tournament on tape delay. I watched with as much enthusiasm as I do Arsenal matches today. We’re talking unadulterated joy, my friends. I will never forget the feeling of privilege I experienced or the indescribable joy that raced through me just from the exposure to the greatest players of that era – everyone knows about Maradona and Rummenigge but less celebrated and certainly recognizable names like Felix Magath, Martin Jol, and Carlo Ancelotti were also among the players in Montevideo.

I have fond memories of Uruguayans Vanencio Ramos and Ruben Paz, Brazilians Tita, Luizinho, and little Edevaldo, Dutch twins Rene and Willy van de Kerkhof, German keeper Eike Immel and decathlete turned footballer Hans-Peter Briegel, the elegant Italian Giancarlo Antognoni and the pillar at the back Pietro Vierchwod, under-rated Argentines Ramon Diaz and Juan Barbas.

Sigh!

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