MILAN - Karl Heinz Schnellinger, author of the recently published book "Il '70 e i 70" on his 70th birthday, played for Milan until 1974. However, those four years after the Mexico ’70 semi-final between Italy and Germany were not the easiest, so much so that many still remember him, despite him being a recognised asset to Serie A, as the player who scored the goal in the dying minutes that put Italy’s place in the World Cup final against Brazil at risk.
The truth is that without Volkswagen, as he was known by Paròn Rocco, made a huge contribution to the history of football: without his goal to make it 1-1, the most spectacular extra time of all time would not have been played.
That day at the Azteca, Roberto Rosato and Gianni Rivera were also playing. It was Rivera who scored the last of the match’s seven goals as Italy ran out 4-3 winners.
Clashes between Italy and Germany have been shaped by other Rossoneri figures. Franco Baresi was an onlooker in July, 1982 at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid but was on the pitch in 1988 in the opening fixture of the European Championships. The 2006 semi-final in Dortmund was preceeded by the immortal reply from Rino Gattuso when asked if he feared a yellow card which would see him miss an eventual final. He replied, “I’ll eat that yellow card!” On the pitch, two Azzurri goals were set up by two Rossoneri players: a no-look pass from Andrea Pirlo for Fabio Grosso and a backheal from Alberto Gilardino to release Alex Del Piero.
Today a member of the directors of Germany is Oliver Bierhoff, a refined person, who won the scudetto with Milan in 1999. Oliver played a total of three season with the Rossoneri.
A heavy Milan presence on the Azzurri side, but there is also a touch of German throughout the history of this epic encounter, as exemplified by Riccardo Montolivo. The midfielder admitted it himself - 90 per cent Italian, 10 per cento German due to his German family.