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We asked Goal readers to vote for your favourite memory of the 1994 World Cup and you chose the Italian's missed spot kick at the Rose Bowl final in California

By Kris Voakes

When the 1994 World Cup comes to mind, the most vivid memories normally focus on the two penalties that book-ended the tournament.

The first came during the opening ceremony at Chicago’s Soldier Field, when a mock spot-kick was taken by superstar singer Diana Ross. Though the dummy goalposts were rigged to collapse upon impact, the songstress screwed the shot wide. The posts collapsed anyway.

VIEW FROM ITALY
By Federico Casotti | Goal Italy

Roberto Baggio was a late bloomer in the tournament. Against Nigeria he equalised in the 89th minute, then he scored the winning goal in extra time. From then he was the absolute leader of the team, scoring the winning goal against Spain, plus a double in the semi-final with Bulgaria. 

Then the final came. Baggio suffered with a sprain in the semi-final, and regardless of his fitness, desperately wanted to play in the final.

Oddly enough, the Baggio penalty has become historical, while almost nobody remembers the other crucial miss from Daniele Massaro. In the following years Baggio's detractors always said: "His mistake costed us the World Cup", failing to remember that he got the team to the final almost single-handedly. Pretty Italian, you might say.

Watch Baggio's moment on One Stadium

A month later, the whole world came tumbling down for Roberto Baggio when he was handed the task of keeping Italy’s World Cup dreams alive in the final against Brazil. After Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro had both failed from the spot, Baggio stepped up to take the Azzurri’s fifth penalty with his side trailing 3-2.

A regular penalty-taker for his various club sides, Baggio was one of the most sure-footed players from 12 yards in world football. He would go on to net 111 penalties over the course of his career, including a Serie A record of 76 successful attempts.

Wearing the famous blue shirt of his country, he was equally deadly from the spot. He had scored a penalty in the semi-final shoot-out defeat to Argentina in 1990, netted from 12 yards against Nigeria on the way to the 1994 final and would score penalties against Chile and France – again in a shoot-out – four years later.

But fate decreed that when Baggio was asked to take the most important spot-kick of his life, he would fail to hit the target. It cost Italy the World Cup and forever tainted a magnificent career.

Baggio had scored five goals to take Italy to the final, and finished his international career with 27 from 56 appearances. He tallied 318 goals in total for club and country – a phenomenal record – yet there is simply no forgetting that one strike of a ball in Pasadena on July 17, 1994.

“It is a wound that never closes,” Baggio has since admitted. “I had always dreamt of playing in a World Cup final against Brazil. But when it became a reality, I missed that penalty.”

Italy did eventually win a fourth crown – on penalties – in 2006 to finally bury the bad memories of 1994, but for Baggio there was no second chance. While he is well established as one of Italy’s all-time greats, he will always be regarded as one of the best footballers never to win a World Cup.

But for that one kick, it might all have been so different.

Take a look at One Stadium - the football destination for official Fifa World Cup partner Sony - which hosts archive footage from every modern finals.

See World Cup 1994 highlights on the Sony One Stadium site.

Poll of the day

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