How good was that game 42 years ago?
Today, in front of Azteca Stadium, there is a monument dedicated to that game. There is a plaque on that monument.
When translated into English, it says the following: "The Azteca Stadium pays homage to the national teams of Italy (4) and Germany (3), who starred in the 1970 FIFA World Cup, the 'Game of the Century.' June 17th, 1970."
It wasn't just a fabrication for the purpose of publicity. It was voted as the game of the century.
If that game had happened today, millions would be talking about it. But soccer in the 1970s didn't generate the same kind of coverage it does now. Most didn't have the chance to watch it on television. There was no live coverage of the World Cup in North America.
If you wanted to watch important games live, they were shown for a fee on a big screen at Maple Leaf Gardens and other arenas around Canada.
Or you could do what thousands of other immigrants did, those immigrants who couldn't afford to go to all the games. You listened to it on shortwave radio.
This was a game for the ages.
It had plots and subplots.
Germany had Der Bomber, Gerd Mueller, and loved to attack. Italy loved to defend.
Italy began quickly, with Roberto Boninsegna scoring in the eighth minute.
From that moment on, Germany attacked and kept attacking. Like a fighter on the ropes, the Italians took a beating but refused to go down.
The game dragged into the 90th minute and then into added time. When it got to the 93rd minute, it looked as if the Italians were through to the final. But from nowhere, German fullback Karl-Heinze Schnellinger jumped on a cross and jabbed it into the net.
Schnellinger played his professional soccer with AC Milan in the Italian Serie A. He played 47 games for Germany and that would be his only goal.
It was a devastating blow for the Italians and a huge lift for the Germans.
The game went to extra time.
It took four minutes for Germany to go ahead on a goal by Mueller. Four minutes later, Tarchisio Burgnich tied it. Six minutes after that, Gigi Riva gave Italy a 3-2 lead.
In the 110th minute, Mueller brought Germany level again but even as television replays were showing the goal, Gianni Rivera gave the Italians the lead in the 111th minute.
Both teams were practically out on their feet.
Germany had gone to extra time against England in the quarterfinals, coming back from being down 2-0 late in the game.
Franz Beckenbauer separated his shoulder early in extra time and refused to go off. Doctors strapped his arm to his chest and he played that way.
When it was over, an Italian radio announcer made this prophetic statement, "It is a game that you will not believe happened unless you saw it with your own eyes."
Italy went on to play Brazil in the final but had nothing left for one of the best teams in history. They lost 4-1.
Other memorable Italy-Germany contests:
1982 -- Italy 3, Germany 1: This was the World Cup final in Spain. Italian Antonio Cabrini missed a penalty in the first half. But in the second, Paolo Rossi scored the first goal, his sixth of the tournament, and Italy went on to take a 3-0 lead and dominate the Germans.
2006 -- Italy 2, Germany 0: This World Cup semifinal was played in Germany. The host team was expected to make it that far while Italy wasn't. The game went into extra time and looked headed for penalties until Italian Fabio Grosso, a fullback, scored in the 118th minute and Alex Del Piero scored just before the final whistle. Italy went on to win the World Cup.