Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Panini-Zufallsbekanntschaft #6

Jean-Marie Pfaff (Belgium - Spain'82)

He played over sixty times for his country, and was part of the Belgium team who were runners-up in the '80 Euro Championship and who finished fourth in the Mexico World Cup of '86, but Jean-Marie Pfaff is best known today for introducing the slang word, 'pfaffing', into the English language.

Goalkeepers have been known to dither over crosses ever since the first ever Scottish International was played way back in 1872 but, for some reason, Pfaff's 27 second moment of madness in a Belgian cup game back in 1979 seems to have captured the footballing zeitgeist of the time. It doesn't seem right, manifestly unfair, but apparently David James has a shrine to Pfaff in his locker at Fratton Park by way of a small thank you for taking his place in the English language slang dictionary.

Trying to think back to Belgium's participation in the '82 World Cup but the best my memory bank can come up with is Boniek's brilliant hat trick against Pfaff and others in the knockout stage of the tournament.

Now that I think about it, combining football pub talk and counterfactual history I wonder what would have happened if Poland had won the World Cup in '82? What would the ramifications have been for Polish society and the political climate at that particular time, coming so soon after the suppression of Solidarność?

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