The right foot that rocked the world

June 16, 1982 will forever be remembered as one of the greatest moment for the African football.

In front of 25 000 fans at the El Molinon Stadium in Gijon (Spain), Lakhdar Belloumi inspired Algeria’s Desert Warriors turned football on its head, defeating European champions West Germany 2-1.

Belloumi branded his name in World Cup history books with the inside of his right foot when he scored Algeria’s winning goal against West Germany at the 1982 World Cup tournament in Spain.

It was the moment Africa stared at the best of the world and showed its promise.

His international career began in 1978 and he went on to play in the 1980 Nations Cup in Nigeria, but lost in the final to the host nation.

That was the closest Belloumi came to winning a continental honour.

He participated at the 1980 Summer Olympics and at two editions of the FIFA World Cup, in 1982 and 1986.

For the Desert Foxes of Algeria, he got 87 caps and scored 40 goals.

In 1981, he was voted African Footballer of the Year.

However, his performance at Espana ‘82 against Germany would go down as one of Africa’s best moments in World Cup history.

Algeria had come into the game without a chance.

The Germans, led by the legendary Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, openly bragged about beating the North Africans right up to the day of the encounter with their coach, Jupp Derwall, promising to pack his bags and head home immediately if they lost the match.

But Belloumi and his teammates had written and read a different script.

The match started much the way the world had envisioned it, with the Germans dictating the play.

It took 25 minutes before the Algerians began to lose their fears and find some rhythm. Once they got going, Madjer on the right and Assad on the left started to cause the German defence all sorts of problems.

The second half resumed goalless, but by this time the Algerians were in full stride.

With the Germans a trifle nervous, Algeria struck. In a counter-attacking move in the 52nd minute, Zidane’s pass found Belloumi alone with Schumacher. His shot was parried to the right where the lurking fox, Madjer tucked it in.

This woke the Germans from their slumber.

With 23 minutes left on the clock Germany struck back. Magath found the surging Rummenigge with a low cross and he slotted the ball in.

This, however, did little to dampen the brave Algerians.

Indeed they restored their lead 40 seconds later when the inspired Dahleb found Assad unmarked and his quick across was met by the inside right foot of Belloumi.

The stadium went wild as did millions of fans across Africa.

With two wins and a loss, Algeria looked forward to a second round berth.

But it was not to be.

Thirty-three years have not dimmed Belloumi’s bitter feelings about the factors that led to their exit.

“The Germans and Austrians (made) an arrangement to eliminate us by goal difference. It was what we called the match of shame. Austria let in two goals, so that … Germany could go through,” an angry Belloumi said.

Born on December 29, 1958 in Mascara, Algeria, Belloumi belongs to the golden years of Algerian football of the 1980s.

He spent almost his entire career at home, (apart from a brief spell in Qatar late in his career); most notably with his hometown club GCR Mascara, as well as MC Alger and MC Oran.

He won two domestic championships during his career.

After returning for another spell at Mascara in 1994, he continued playing until retirement in 1999.

Belloumi had contact with various European clubs, including Barcelona, before Spain ‘82, but “the law did not allow us to leave the country before the age of 27”.

In 1985 he caught the eye of Juventus after shining in a friendly against them, only to miss out on a dream transfer after breaking his leg in the African Champions’ Cup in Libya against Al-Ittihad.

He was understandably disappointed: “It was a real shame for me that I couldn’t go.”

He was recognised by any who watched him play, including the great Pele, as a fantastic player.

Even in the era of international playmakers like Diego Maradona and Michel Platini, he found his place in many hearts around the world.

He was named African Footballer of the Year in 1981 by France Football magazine. – 

September 2013
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