Traditionally, World Cups are great international theater for emerging stars. Thus, 1958 gave us the 17-year-old Pele and right winger Garrincha of Brazil, not to mention 13-goal scorer Just Fontaine of France. In 1962, it was Brazilian inside left Amarildo who, at 24, stepped into Pele's shoes with extraordinary success.
In 1966, Geoff Turst of England, who did not even start in the tournament, scored a record three goals in the final, while West Germany unveiled Franz Beckenbauer. Four years later it was the turn of Peru's Teofilo Cubillas and Brazil's center forward, Tostao. In 1974, when the tournament was played in West Germany, Rainer Bonhof of the host nation came into his team's fourth game and transformed the midfield.
But this year, new stars are not emerging.
Mario Kempes of Argentina? He was a revelation at the last World Cup at the age of 19. Leopoldo Luque, his foil and dashing companion? Luque is 29 now and has long been an established name in Buenos Aires.
Edino Nazareth, Brazil's leftback, was a player his coach, Claudio Coutinho, certainly had greathopes for. He played on Coutinho's Olympic team in Montreal two years ago, and played centerback for Brazil until Coutinho switched him to left back. But on tour in Europe before the World Cup he kicked several opponents and at Mar del Plata seemed incapable of doing even that. So He was another of those cast aside by Nunez when he took over the team from Coutinho.
Hansi Mueller of West Germany, 20 years old and still serving in the army, made a bright enough start in a dreadful opening game against Poland in Buenos Aires. Hezmut Schoen, his coach, obviously entertained hopes that this tall, left-footed midfielder would be the Bonhof of his 1978 team. Perhap Mueller would have been had teammates given him a chance, but the senior men, goalkeeper Sepp Maier among them, complained that he was inexperienced, forgetting perhaps that Bonhof had never played for West Germany until he came onto its 1974 Cup team.
One or two younger players have been impressive Paolo Rossi, 22, the center forward of Italy who signed the amnesty International petition against the Argentinian government before he came, is one.
He had been slated last winter to play for Italy but had lost his place on the team and Enzo Bearzot, the coach, showed no sign of recalling him until a good performance in a training game in Buenos Aires caused Bearzot to change his mind.
Rossi, a fluent, mobil and elusive player, with a nice burst of speed at the end of his runs, has been very effective. He hasn't been bothered by the fact that his recent $6 million valuation in Italy caused an uproar, nor by rough treatment from opponents. He even had the vinegar to stand up to Bearzot when the coach wanted to leave him out against Argentina and to insist that he play.
Andras Toeroscsik, 23, of Hungary is another center forward who has justified his playing, even though he was sent off against Argentina and played but two games. He has fine balance and ball control, the courage to try to beat several defenders, and shares with Rossi the priceless gift of change of pace. (But Toeroecsik's teammate, the attacking midfielder Tibor Nzilasi, 23, with whom he grew up in youth football, did little to justify his pre-Cup publicity, and he too got sent off against Argentina.)
Michel Platini, 22, the French attacking midfielder who endlessly practices free kicks by standing life-sized dummies in front of the goal, also lived up to his fame although France did not last long. He has that priceless ability to succeed at this highest level of football.
Had Poland been slightly bolder Zbigniew Boniek, 22, might have been the young star of the tournament. It was typical of the cautious Polish coach, Jacek Gmoch, that in the early games he played Boniek only as substitute.
Against Argentina on Wednesday, this law student from Lodz was one of the best players on the field, an attacking midfielder who says, "I'd rather score than be marked," who is clever in balll control, subtle in passing and has a hard left-footed shot.
I expected Boniek to come through before the competion ends, but his own team has seen to it that the odds were stacked against him.
We came here with high expectations for 21-year-old Jose Reinaldo, from Atletico Minerio football club in Brazil. He had a delightful touch, scored goals with elegant opportunism, had the natural striker's flair for turning up in the right place at the tight time. It was rumoured that he had run a foul of the regime and the team's military mentors by criticizing the Brazilian government and expressing sympathy for political prisoners. And he had had trouble with both knees and was said by some Brazilian critics to be out of condition.
Then he was brought on as a substitute against Peru in a friendly match in Rio before the World Cup started, scoring two goals, and all seemed to be forgiven. He started on the World Cup team, a he caught the ball, in the penalty area, on his right thigh, let it roll down his leg, bru he caught the ball, in the penalty area, on his leg, brushed past an opponent, and kicked it wide of the goal. And after a passive performance in Mar Del Plata against Spain, which should have won, Adm. Hector Nunez, commander of the Brazilian World Cup expedition, decreed that Reinaldo should be dropped.
He was replaced by the far less gifted but stronger and more combative Carlos Roberto, who scored the goal against Austria that kept Brazil in the Cup. He retained a place on the team at Reinaldo's expense.
That goal was assisted by a bad error on the part of Bruno Pezzey, the big Austrian centerback. Pezzey 23, was another expected to emerge in this World Cup. He began well enough, against Spain and Sweden, but the next two games, against Brazil and the Netherlands, were disastrous for him.
He allowed a long crossing pass from the right to sail over his head, like some inept amateur, to let Roberto score, and in the same game gave away four clumsy free kicks on the edge of the edge of the penalty box.