Willie Johnston's failure of a dope test has properly put the cat among the pigeons in British soccer. Johnston, going home and selling his story to the highest newspaper bidder, has announced that he regularly takes such stimulants before games, and so do others of his team.
England, unlike Italy, has no such thing as an automatic dope test for a couple of players from each team after every game, the presumption being that no British footballer would ever be so arrantly ungentlemanly as to do such a thing.
That presumption has belatedly died since Johnston's episode in Cordoba. People also are beginning to ask what effect such practices may have had on his past behavior. He has been sent off the field many times, most recently for aiming a kick at a referee.
English soccer authorities now may take steps to institute dope tests, but if they do it will be with relunctance.
In 1966, an English doctor, running the dope tests at the World Cup, told the Italians that a urine sample they'd unofficially submitted to him was dangerously positive. When the World Cup began, the Italians played like lambs and lost outlandishly to North Korea.
Judio Cardenosa of Spain virtually tried to walk the ball into the net in Mar Del Plata Wednesday when he let Brazil off the hook. A Buenos Aires paper remarked that most players became famous in a World Cup for scoring goals, Cardenosa has become celebrated for missing one. The Spanish team played to a 0-0 tie with Brazil. Cardenosa said he felt miserable at first for messing up a possible goal and he balmed his amazing error on the tension.
As he pointed out, he is not really by way of being a goal scorer at all. The wrong man in the right place, you might say. There's little doubt that goal scorers, especially in these days of tight, well organized defense, tend to be born, not made. They have that little bit of extra flair for being in the right place, that extra quality of coolness that enables them to calculate when and where they should shoot. Hans Krankl of Austria has it and so, I think, has little Andres Toroscik of Hungary, Mario Kempes, of Argentina and the Italians, Roberto Bettega and Paolo Rossi.
Rossi, 22, has had a remarkably satisfying World Cup, the more so considering he came out here with such a burden on his shoulders. As a youngster, he was rejected by the big touring club of Juventus, backed by the Agnelli family of Fiat cars. "Juve" farmed him out to Lanerossi Vicenza. There, Rossi flourished, but Juventus kept a half share in him. At the end of the recent season, the two clubs failed to reach a deal about his future, though it had been expected he would return, after all the goals he had scored, to Turin.
Instead, Vicenza decided it would bid to keep the young prodigy. The Italian League ordered that each team should put its bid in an envelope. Juventus, doubtless ordered to keep a lowish profile by the Agnelli, given the turbulent state of Italian society and the economy, made a relatively low bid. Vicenza's was so huge that it valued Rossi at nearly $6 million. It now has to pay its own half of that to Juventus, though goodness knows where they will get it. They cannot hope to recover it from gate receipts at their small field.
Moments of pure class in his last match, against Hungary - actually he came on only at half time - makes one miss France's Michel Platini all the more.
In another year, when the Italian borders open up again to footballers, he is expected to join Internazionale of Milan. One moment in particular delighted me when Platini, with what looked like the simplest, most casual of turns, from left to right, left his Hungarian opponent standing, and strolled off with the ball. His passing, too, was impeccable, whether short or long.
The only disappointment was that he did not score a goal from one of his famous free kicks. Italy was certainly afraid he would since he'd beaten Dinoz off with them twice, in a friendly match earlier this year in Naples. A perfectionist, platini takes out dummy figures, places them in front of goal, and swerves the ball around them, shooting for hours on end.