Football Features

What happened next? The Italia 90 World Cup ‘All-star’ team & best young player

By Chris Smith

Published: 18:40, 11 April 2020 | Updated: 10:16, 14 April 2020

For fans of English football, Italia 90 often evokes emotive memories. 

After decades of underachievement and disappointment, the Three Lions finally made a fist of an international tournament, going all the way to the semi-finals before famously crashing out on penalties to West Germany.

Gazza’s tears, David Platt’s disallowed goal and penalty misses from Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle remain fresh in the memory but England didn’t leave totally empty-handed, winning Fifa’s Fair Play Trophy. Not that it was much consolation.

England aside, there was plenty more quality on show in Italy and at the end of the tournament, Fifa named their “All-star” team of highest performers.

So, what happened to those players after being named in this prestigious team? Let’s take a look.

Goalkeeper: Sergio Goycochea

Country: Argentina

Post-Italia 90 career path: Racing Club, Brest, Cerro Porteno, Olimpia Asuncion, River Plate, Mandiyu, Internacional, Velez Sarsfield, Newell’s Old Boys

International caps: 44

The first of two goalkeepers named in the All-star team, Goycochea had already achieved plenty of success at club level ahead of Italia 90, lifting titles in South America with the likes of River Plate and Millonarios.

Following the World Cup, he was named as Argentina’s Footballer of the Year and had a short spell with Racing Club before heading to Europe to play for Brest. His sole spell across the Atlantic didn’t last too long, and Goycochea played out the rest of his career for various clubs in South America, including another stint at River Plate.

Trophies continued to roll in at international level, however, as he played between the sticks for Argentina’s 1991 and 1993 Copa America-winning sides, earning him a spot in Fifa’s World XI in 1991.

Goalkeeper: Luis Gabelo Conejo

Country: Costa Rica

Post-Italia 90 career path: Albacete, Herediano, Ramonense

International caps: 29

Conejo was something of an unknown outside his own country before Italia 90 but once there, he soon made his presence felt, conceding just two goals in three group games with relative minnows, Costa Rica, including holding Brazil to a 1-0 scoreline.

Following the tournament, Conejo jetted off to Spain and spent four years with Albacete before returning to his homeland in 1994, seeing out his career with Herediano and Ramonense.

Centre-back: Franco Baresi

Country: Italy

Post-Italia 90 career path: AC Milan

International caps: 81

Of course, being in Italy, Fifa had little choice but to go with a back-three for their All-star team and first up in this position is one of the godfathers of defending, Franco Baresi.

The iconic centre-back had already enjoyed a 13-year career by the time Italia 90 came around and he quickly set about giving a great account of his nation as they hosted world football’s most prestigious tournament — the Azzurri conceded just two goals and even managed five consecutive clean sheets.

Baresi remained at AC Milan throughout his entire career, adding a further four Serie A titles and a Uefa Champions League to his collection post-Italia 90. He also carried on with the national team until 1996, captaining Italy in the 1994 World Cup final defeat to Brazil along the way.

After his retirement from football in 1997, Baresi spent time managing AC Milan’s youth sides.

Centre-back: Paolo Maldini

Nation: Italy

Post-Italia 90 career path: AC Milan

International caps: 126

With Baresi acting as the experienced, old head in Italy’s defence, another equally iconic defender was just coming into his prime, Paolo Maldini, who appeared in all seven of his nation’s matches at the 1990 World Cup.

Just like Baresi, Maldini spent his entire career with AC Milan, winning a further six Serie A titles, three Champions Leagues and a Coppa Italia after Italia 90, while he also went on to play in that 1994 World Cup final defeat. Furthermore, Maldini also made it the final of Euro 2000, losing to France, and captained Italy from 1994 following Baresi’s retirement.

Maldini retired himself in 2009 with a quite remarkable 902 appearances for the Rossoneri under his belt, with the club choosing to retire his famous No.3 shirt, while he also amassed 126 caps for Italy — a record only bettered by Fabio Cannavaro (136) and Gianluigi Buffon (176).

Since hanging up his boots, Maldini has taken over as Milan’s technical director, while he also co-owns USL Championship side Miami FC.

The Maldini name continues on at pitch level at the San Siro, too, with son Daniel making his debut in February.

Centre-back: Andreas Brehme

Country: West Germany

Post-Italia 90 career path: Inter Milan, Zaragoza, 1. FC Kaiserslautern

International caps: 86

Andreas Brehme isn’t quite held in the same regard as Baresi or Maldini but remember, he’s the one with a World Cup winners’ medal to his name, and he’s also the guy who scored the winning goal in the 1990 final, netted in the semi-final against England and bagged the winner against rivals Netherlands in the round-of-16.

Following his legendary contribution in 1990, Brehme remained at Inter Milan for another two seasons, lifting the 1991 Uefa Cup, before heading to Spain to play for Real Zaragoza. He played in La Liga for just one season but did help Zaragoza to the 1993 Copa del Rey final, losing 2-0 to Real Madrid, before returning to Germany with Kaiserslautern, eventually retiring in 1998. At international level, Brehme notched up 86 caps, also playing in Germany’s shock Euro 92 final defeat to Denmark.

Since calling it a day, Brehme has tried his hand in management but only managed short, unsuccessful spells with Kaiserslautern (2000-2002) and SpVgg Unterhaching (2004-2005), as well as a stint as assistant manager to Giovanni Trapattoni with VfB Stuttgart (2005-2006).

Midfield: Diego Maradona

Country: Argentina

Post-Italia 90 career path: Napoli, Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys, Boca Juniors

International caps: 91

In a team of stars, one man stands above all the rest and needs absolutely no introduction: Diego Maradona. Alongside, Pele, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Maradona is one of the first names that comes to mind when trying to pick the greatest player of all time.

However, at Italia 90, cracks began to appear in his game which would so turn into gaping chasms. Maradona once again captained Argentina at the World Cup, just as he did during their triumphant 1986 campaign, but this time, injury hampered his performances and he failed to find the net outside of a penalty shootout, leading many to question his inclusion in this All-star team at all.

Following the 1990 World Cup, Maradona played out one more injury-hampered season at Napoli — where he is still worshipped as a legend — before seeing out his career with brief stints at Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys and Boca Juniors. He also played twice at the 1994 World Cup in the USA, scoring once against Greece, before being expelled from the tournament for failing a drugs test — he never scored for Argentina again.

Post-retirement, Maradona has gone into management, taking in spells with the likes of Racing Club and the Argentina national team — with whom he suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Germany at the 2010 World Cup — as well as in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico with Dorados.

He is currently in charge of Argentine side Gimasia de La Plata having previously served as chairman for Belarusian side Dynamo Brest — just a taste of the eclectic life this man has lived — and remains just as wild and controversial as ever.

Midfield: Lothar Matthaus

Country: West Germany

Post-Italia 90 career path: Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, MetroStars, 1. FC Herzogenaurach

International caps: 150

Lothar Matthaus had already exerted a remarkable effect on the fortunes of Inter Milan and he carried that form right into the 1990 World Cup, scoring four goals as West Germany lifted the title.

Matthaus continued on at Inter after Italia 90, winning the 1991 Uefa Cup alongside Brehme, before heading back to Germany with Bayern Munich, where he won another four Bundesliga titles in eight years and played in that famous Champions League final defeat to Manchester United in 1999.

All the while, Matthaus continued to be a critical presence for Germany and by the time he hung up his boots in 2000 — after a short club spell in the States with MetroStars — he’d amassed 150 international caps, no player has more for Die Mannschaft.

Matthaus tried his hand in management over the next decade, leading the likes of Rapid Wien, Partizan and Atletico Paranense, while he also managed the Hungarian and Bulgarian national teams.

Nowadays, he works as a pundit for various media outlets and has regular columns for a number of football magazines.

Midfield: Dragan Stojković

Country: Yugoslavia

Post-Italia 90 career path: Marseille, Hellas Verona (loan), Nagoya Grampus Eight

International caps: 84

Yugoslavia were one of the shocks of Italia 90, beating Spain to reach the quarter-finals and only exiting to eventual runners-up Argentina via a penalty shootout. Key to that run was then Marseille midfielder, Dragan Stojkovic, who scored both his goals at the tournament in that win over Spain. Following the tournament, he played for Yugoslavia for another 11 years, including at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

At club level, he went on to lift the French league title with Marseille in 1990/91 and had a short loan spell with Hellas Verona before heading to Japan, where he’d spend seven years with Nagoya Grampus Eight — playing under Arsene Wenger for a short time — scoring 57 league goals and winning two Emperor’s Cups.

He would then manage Nagoya between 2008 and 2013 — winning the J League in 2010 — before a five-year stint in charge of Guangzhou R&F.

Midfield: Paul Gascoigne

Country: England

Post-Italia 90 career path: Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough, Everton, Burnley, Gansu Tianma, Boston United

International caps: 57

Bobby Moore lifting old Jules Rimet aside, is there a more iconic sight in English football history than Paul Gascoigne’s tears in the 1990 semi-final? In the end, the yellow card which brought on those waterworks was quite irrelevant as England crashed out on penalties to West Germany, but it’s still a moment that goes down in folklore.

Following that tournament, Gazza’s career truly sprung into life as the mercurial midfielder lifted the 1991 FA Cup with Spurs before heading to Lazio and, despite not winning a trophy, making himself a cult hero.

Gascoigne won two Scottish Premier League titles with Rangers after returning from Italy, although he remains a rather unpopular figure in the wider Scottish community thanks to that goal and celebration at Euro 96.

Upon leaving Ibrox in 1998, his career began to slide as his rather hectic personal life took its toll and much less memorable spells at Middlesbrough, Everton, Burnley, Gansu Tianma and Boston United followed before his retirement in 2005.

Always a joker, Gascoigne had his flaws and a fair share of personal problems both during and after his career. However, he remains one of the most treasured figures in the history of English football, with many feeling he embodies the spirit of the entire nation.

Striker: Salvatore Schillaci

Country: Italy

Post-Italia 90 career path: Juventus, Inter Milan, Jubilo Iwata

International caps: 16

Salvatore Schillaci had just one season in Serie A and one senior international cap to his name when he headed to Italia 90, very much expected to be a curious onlooker given the surprise around his inclusion. However, with a six-goal Golden Boot winning performance, ‘Toto’ seemed far more interested in re-writing the history books.

This was by far and away the peak to Schillaci’s career, with the striker never registering a double-figure goals tally in Italian football again, while he only scored once more for Italy following the 1990 World Cup.

However, a prolific spell with Japanese side Jubilo Iwata — where he won the 1997 J League title — was a fitting way to end this ultimate cult hero’s career.

Nowadays, he lives back in Palermo, where he runs a youth academy and is adorned by the Italian public.

Striker: Roger Milla 

Country: Cameroon

Post-Italia 90 career path: Tonnerre, Pelita Jaya, Putra Samarinda

International caps: 77

After a long yet relatively average career in France, Roger Milla headed to Italia 90 aged 38, with absolutely nothing expected of him. Instead, he rocked up and scored four goals, leading Cameroon to the quarter-finals and showing off his best moves for those lucky corner flags.

Following the 1990 World Cup, Milla returned to Cameroon with Tonnerre Yaoundé, while he also saw out his career with Pelita Jaya and Putra Samarinda in Indonesia.

At international level, however, he continued to make history, becoming the oldest man ever to appear at a World Cup in 1994 — a record he held until 2014 — at 42 years old and scoring against Russia to become the tournament’s oldest ever goalscorer (42 years, 39 days), a record he still holds today.

Milla is now an itinerant ambassador for African causes and in 2004, was added to the Fifa 100 — a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé.

Striker: Jurgen Klinsmann

Country: Germany

Post-Italia 90 career path: Inter Milan, AS Monaco, Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern Munich, Sampdoria, Tottenham Hotspur (loan), Orange County Blue Star

International caps: 108

Klinsmann scored three goals at Italia 90, although his winner against Netherlands in an ill-tempered round-of-16 clash — where he was playing as a lone striker following Rudi Voller’s red card — was arguably the most important.

Alongside Matthaus and Brehme, Klinsmann was one of three Germans to lift the 1991 Uefa Cup with Inter, while he also went on to achieve great club success with the likes of Monaco, Tottenham and Bayern Munich, winning the 1996/97 Bundesliga title with the latter, before retiring in 1998. International success continued post-1990, too, as Klinsmann won the 1996 Uefa European Championships with Germany having lost the 1992 final to Denmark.

You could argue, though, that things have become even more interesting for the 55-year-old since hanging up his boots. The former striker led the German national team to the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup on home soil, before a short spell with Bayern which saw him sacked after just 44 games in  2009.

Klinsmann then spent five years in charge of the US national team between 2011 and 2016 and despite leading them to the 2014 World Cup, he’s held responsible for their failure to qualify in 2018 and has been criticised by a growing number of current and former USMNT internationals.

His most recent foray into management was a 10-game spell with Hertha Berlin but he stepped down in February 2020, citing a lack of financial support. The club had just spent a figure reportedly in excess of €70m in the recent January transfer window.

Best Young Player Award: Robert Prosinečki

Country: Yugoslavia

Post-Italia 90 career path: Hrvatski Dragovoljac, Standard Liege, Portsmouth, Olimpija Ljubljana, NK Zagreb, Savski Marof

International caps: 15 (Yugoslavia), 49 (Croatia)

While Schillaci won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards, the Best Young Player title went to Yugoslavia midfielder Robert Prosinečki, who had already turned out for the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla prior to the tournament.

Following Italia 90, Prosinečki went on something of a tour around Europe, playing for the likes of Standard Liege, Portsmouth and NK Zagreb, but his real success was with Croatia, with whom he scored two goals at the 1998 World Cup following the break-up of Yugoslavia, helping his side to a shock semi-final. To this day, he remains the only player to score at different World Cup finals for two separate nations.

Since retiring in 2005, Prosinečki has gone into management and following spells with Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina, is now enjoying his second stint at Turkish side Kayserispor.