England vs Belgium: David Platt reflects on iconic goal in previous World Cup clash

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  • Published on Jun 27, 2018
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    Twenty-eight years ago this week, Platt’s last-gasp volley in extra time against Belgium put Bobby Robson’s team into the quarter-finals of Italia 90 and gave the then Aston Villa midfielder a platform to forge a successful and lucrative career in Italy. There was some irony in the way things panned out for Chadderton-born Platt, who had been discarded as a youngster by Manchester United but ended up becoming something of a goal scoring talisman for his country as a replacement for injured Bryan Robson, dubbed ‘Captain Marvel’ by both United and England. Robson had been injured in the group stages when Platt twice featured as a substitute. He was on the bench again for the last 16 clash with the Belgians in Bologna, the last time the two sides met in a tournament, but his big moment arrived when he was sent on for Steve McMahon in the 71st minute - with the game still goal-less. He has recalled the balmy June night many times: “I can remember little snatches of the game: John Barnes having a volleyed goal harshly disallowed, Belgium hitting the woodwork twice, I can still see Enzo Scifo hitting the post with a tremendous strike from 25 yards.” “I was at the other end of the bench from Bobby Robson and didn’t have much contact with him. Having since been a manager I now know that the emotions he must have been going through were far more intense than mine. “In the last minute of extra-time there was a free-kick in the centre. Gazza [Paul Gascoigne] was on it. I was in the box trying to get a yard or half of space. I was spinning, the ball dropped over my shoulder and I just tried to get something on it. There wasn’t a great deal of power. It was all technique. I saw it going in and fell to my knees. “Everything was intuitive, the way I met and hit the ball and then dropping to my knees. Instinct just took over. I’d never ever dropped to my knees after scoring before, I don’t know why I did. “But when you score a goal like that you just go outside yourself for a bit, everything is surreal. The adrenaline surge is so great it’s as if I really was in a different place, a different world. “Don’t get me wrong, the goal wasn’t a fluke. I had an eye for getting on the end of that sort of ball and the technical ability to finish those chances off. I worked hard on practising overhead kicks and volleys in training at Aston Villa but, even so, if I had re-enacted that chance against Belgium 10 times in training the next day there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t have scored once from it. It was just one of life’s rare, perfect moments.” Unfortunately, Platt could not share the euphoria with his team-mates after the final whistle because he was nabbed by the dope testers. Platt had earned his place in the starting XI and went on to add another goal with a header in the quarter-final win over Cameroon, convert a penalty in the losing shoot-out to West Germany in the semi-final before heading another goal in the third place play-off defeat to Italy in Bari.

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