Parker hopes Italia 90 World Cup documentary highlights legacy of the tournament

Italia 90: When football changed forever
Italia 90: When football changed forever

Paul Parker hopes an eye-opening new documentary on the Italia 90 World Cup can further extend the legacy of the tournament more than three decades on.

The former England defender, 58, started five games as Sir Bobby Robson’s side memorably reached the semi-finals before crashing out to Germany on penalties.

Italia 90 still holds a storied status in English footballing folklore and ahead of this year’s World Cup in Qatar, a new Channel 4 documentary is helping shine a light on the tournament in the form of a three-part series.

The programme aired its first episode on Monday night and sees Parker feature alongside fellow England stars Stuart Pearce, Paul Gascoigne, John Barnes, Peter Shilton and Steve Bull.

And the former Manchester United and QPR star hopes it can continue to educate a new audience with just three weeks to go until Qatar 2022 kicking off.

He said: “I’m involved in something that goes on and on and on.

“People are still talking about it 32 years on, especially as England have now been to a semi-final in the same tournament and then been to the final of a Euros.

“To see people still talking so passionately about Italia 90 is just something I never anticipated.

“I think it is because of what went on around it, before during and after the tournament.

“I thought it would have been done when we got home, and the new season started, usually people move on.

“But you know, it just hasn’t, it hasn’t been allowed to die.”

The opening episode of the series focused on the build-up to the 1990 World Cup and the increasingly rampant hooliganism that emerged in the English domestic game.

Clashes between Luton and Millwall fans at Kenilworth Road, followed by the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 – that led to English clubs being banned from European competitions for five years – intensified the trouble-making image of England supporters and led to widespread concerns ahead of the tournament in Italy.

Robson’s side were forced to play their group matches on the island of Sardinia to reduce fears of chaos before their last 16 and quarter-final victories against Belgium and Cameroon.

Those wins teed up a dramatic semi-final clash against Germany but despite Gary Lineker’s late leveller – his fourth goal of the tournament – the Three Lions lost on penalties to deny them a shot at emulating their historic 1966 triumph at Wembley.

England’s run helped contribute to Italia 90’s cherished status but Parker, who played an unfortunate role in the Germans’ opener before providing the assist for Lineker’s 80th minute strike, believes other external factors further elevated the tournament’s influence.

He added: “There were so many issues were going on here, with the hooliganism and the fact our teams were banned for five years from Europe.

“You can look at what was happening with Yugoslavia and what was happening there, and that only came out a couple of years later.

“After 1990, there was the topic of the Premier League, so that’s three huge issues that culminated around Italia 90 other than football.

“But then the football was the icing on the cake, we surprised a lot of people with what we achieved because there was not really any great hope that we would achieve anything.”

Italia 90: When Football Changed Forever. Broadcasting on Channel 4 at 9 pm on Monday 31st October, includes interviews with Paul Parker, Stuart Pearce, Paul Gascoigne, John Barnes, Peter Shilton and Steve Bull #Italia90 https://www.channel4.com/