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World Cup stunning moments: Gazza cries as England lose at Italia 90

Paul Gascoigne’s bottom lip wobbled as he was ruled out of a World Cup final England would never reach, and Gazzamania was born

“I got the ball in the centre circle and bundled my way forward. Then, as Matthaus tried to nick it off me, I nudged the ball out of his reach, but overran it. I had to stretch as Thomas Berthold came across. I was giving it 110%. It was the World Cup semi-final and I didn’t want to give them anything for free. To this day I honestly don’t think I touched him, but down he went, rolling around as if in agony. I crouched down to make sure he was OK, and at that stage I wasn’t thinking I was in trouble. There was nothing in the challenge. Then everything turned to slow motion.”

For all the uplifting moments in England’s march from the foyer of ignominy to the doorstep of greatness in 1990 – David Platt’s goal against Belgium, Gary Lineker’s equaliser against West Germany, Paul Gascoigne’s own phenomenal turn to leave Holland’s Ronald Koeman trailing in the group stages – we have chosen to define it by this one. The swell of unexpected hope experienced by the English coincided with the blossoming of Gascoigne’s rare and fragile talent; they rose together, they fell together – quite a bit sooner than either would have liked – and frankly everyone’s still a bit bitter about it.

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