The German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt had decided it was time to send the French president, Francois Mitterand, a letter in an attempt to defuse tensions between the two nations.

“Our hearts go out to the French who deserved to go through just as much as the Germans,” the letter read.

It wasn’t the first time international relations were strained as a result of the 1982 World Cup. The Falklands War had strained relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina, and serious deliberation had taken place with respect to England, Northern Ireland and Scotland’s withdrawal from the tournament.

England ultimately took the field when it became clear that neither world football’s governing body, Fifa, nor the other nations would back the move. They were eventually eliminated by the West Germans.

It was West Germany’s semi-final against France in Seville that was an otherwise captivating battle royale, but was marred by one of the most horrific injuries suffered on a football field.


Espana 1982 and the matches happening in Seville reached boiling point in July, and a 9 pm kick-off did little to ease the humidity punishing the 22 players on the field.

France had managed to level proceedings through captain Michel Platini’s penalty after West Germany’s find of the tournament, Pierre Littbarski, had arrowed a rebound off keeper Jean-Luc Ettori to give his team the lead.

On the 50th-minute mark, Michel Hidalgo was forced to break up Le Carre Magique, the magic square, of Bernard Genghini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Platini. France’s golden quartet had vowed spectators in a tournament where Socrates and his rebels had captured the imagination.

Off went Genghini to be replaced by future Saint-Etienne teammate Patrick Battiston to try and break the deadlock. Ten minutes later, Wolfgang Dremmler was dispossessed by Maxime Bossis before the French left-back laid it off to Platini.

Platini stopped for a moment, had a look up and pinged the ball perfectly, splitting the West German defence. It was Battiston who strode forward to punish this momentary lapse by Jupp Derwall’s side. In Battiston’s own words, “the pitch was like a corridor and there was nobody in it, like the Champs-Elysees at five o’ clock in the morning.”

In between him and a goal that could potentially decide a World Cup stood FC Koln’s Harald Schumacher. The then 28-year-old was the heir to the legendary Sepp Maier in goal. He had won the European Championships in 1980 and was a losing finalist at the ’82 and ’86 World Cups but the 36 years gone by have always associated Schumacher’s name with one moment of brutality.


Replays confirmed what the French and the crowd had believed. Schumacher had rushed to close down Battiston but after the latter had shot for goal, launched himself into the path of the Frenchman with a force that neither will forget to this day.

As the ball looped wide of the ball, Battiston was knocked out cold, slammed into with ferocity that made Platini believe his team-mate was “dead” because of a lack of pulse and a descending paleness upon his face.

The defender from Amneville lay unconscious for seven minutes as his arms went limp from the collision. Somewhere in the wilderness of the pitch lay two of Battiston’s teeth, with broken vertebrae and three cracked ribs adding to the charges against Schumacher.

Referee Charles Corver was unmoved. He whistled for a goal-kick and produced neither yellow nor red for Schumacher. As the game veered and swayed, the French seemed to thrash out at the winds of injustice and scored two goals in extra time after the game ended 1-1 in 90 minutes. France’s third goal had arrived through a volley by Marius Tresor, followed by Giresse arrowing the ball onto the post and in with his right foot.


Derwall had not risked Karl Heinz-Rummenigge and his hamstring from the start. The West Germany captain and reigning European Player of the Year wanted nothing more than to play the final at the Santiago Bernabeu, but had to be risked as the French went about hunting a fourth.

He promptly sparked West Germany’s comeback as Klaus Fischer ended a memorable game by levelling it up 3-3 with a bicycle kick. Four goals had been shared in extra time as a World Cup match went to a penalty shoot-out for the first time.

With France leading 3-2 in the shootout, Didier Six, who played for Stuttgart in Germany, saw his weak effort saved by Schumacher. As Six passed up a chance to give his team an almost invincible lead, the game rolled onto sudden death where Schumacher came up trumps again. This time, Bossis was denied.

Horst Hrubesch duly sent Ettori the wrong way to send West Germany through. Schumacher had saved two penalties. Battiston’s French artisans were out. There was no god in Seville that night.

Schumacher rather brazenly offered to pay for the crowns when informed about the extent of Battiston’s injuries. Later, he would beat Adolf Hitler in a French newspaper poll about unpopular Germans.

The semi-final had sapped the Germans. They collapsed in the final against Italy, but hardly a neutral wept for their fate. Earlier in the tournament, the West Germans had played out a drab 1-0 against Austria in the first group stage (’82 had two of them), playing keep-ball for 80 minutes.

This was a result that saw both teams through at the expense of Algeria, who had shocked West Germany earlier on in the tournament. The Disgrace of Gijon, as it has come to be known, prompted Fifa’s rule about all final group stage matches taking place simultaneously to avoid collusion.

The West Germans featuring Schumacher, far from the class of 2010 and 2014, went on to lose another final in 1986 to a Diego Maradona-led Argentina. The French gained some amount of consolation as they lifted the Euros on home soil two years later.

As for the two men at the centre of it all, they reconciled eventually, with Schumacher stating that he was truly apologetic for his reaction to the horror tackle. Battiston accepted the apology as the two would even feature on the same team for a charity friendly. Thirty-four years on from Seville, Schumacher-Battiston remains a black mark on a mesmerising World Cup clash that was second to none.