Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 52-The Llama and Mr Voller (1990)

Rijkaard Soccerlens Top 10 Fighting Footballers

The Dutch and Germans have never really had much love for each other and when Italia ’90 rolled around the two country’s rivalry on the football pitch knew no bounds. The rivalry had extended to Italy with a host of German stars at Inter Milan (Andreas Breheme, Lothar Matthaus and Jurgen Klinsmann) in constant battle with the Dutch internationals (Frank Rijkarrd, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit) from cross-town rivals AC Milan, two sides that don’t get on at the best of times.

The Dutch had been next to awful so far in Italia ’90, a huge disappointment considering how much hype that surrounded them leading in to the tournament. The European champions had been lacking in the first round with an opening 1-1 draw against Egypt, 0-0 draw with England then 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland. The Germans on the other hand were undefeated and had put some handy teams to the sword including a 4-1 thrashing of Yugoslavia (in their final tournament before the split) and 5-1 mauling of the United Arab Emirates before taking their foot off the gas against Colombia.

The Germans were (believe it or not) playing attacking  and attractive football! The match (fittingly held at the San Siro in Milan) started off like your usual match between two countries that hate each other with the booing of national anthems, niggling tackles, and cagey tactics. Veteran Dutch international, one time singing hopeful (don’t ask) and Anderlecht captain Adri van Tiggelen decided to get the ball rolling with the crippling tackles by taking out original Sydney FC coach Pierre Littbarski with a Muscat-on-Dugarry like studs up challenge that went unpunished.

The tone had been set and Rijkaard (a Patrick Vieira for his generation) decided to try and take out AS Roma’s Rudi Voller who milked the tackle for all it was worth. This tackle didn’t go unnoticed by the Argentinean referee Juan Carlos Loustau who promptly booked Rijkaard. Voller proceeded to remonstrate with both player (pointing a finger and a lot of abuse towards Rijkaard) and the ref while the rest of the players lined up for a free kick. When Voller had his back turned Rijkaard proceeded to spit at his adversary which in turn resulted in more bitching from Voller to the ref by showing the spit in his hair to the ref.

Rijkaard reacted to this by pulling Voller’s hair like a year 9 having a fight with her friend over a boy. The ref decided that a German being spat on was quite hilarious (or he was sick of Voller’s protests) and proceeded to book Voller too. From the free kick that was eventually taken a clear thinking Dutch keeper Van Bruekelen was off his line fast to gather the ball but not before Voller had jumped out of the way crumbling in a heap in either a desperate bid to get out of the way or milk a penalty, going on Voller’s reputation it was probably the latter.

Rijkaard obviously thought the latter and then had a go at Voller while he still lay on the ground with the Dutch keeper joining in. Rijkaard lobbed another gobby at Voller, stamped on his foot and struck him across the neck. Voller, instead of complaining to the ref this time, decided to almost king hit Rijkaard and two were squaring off again. The novelty had worn off by this stage on the ref and he gave both Voller and Rijkaard red cards but the two still mouthed off to each other as they walked off the pitch with the latter even managing to launch another lugey before they had alleged fisticuffs in the tunnel.

Germany went on to comfortably win the match 2-1 with the out of form Van Basten virtually a cripple and unfit Gullit no match for a brilliant German defence led by the legendary Matthaus. Following the match Rijkaard claimed that he had been racially abused by Voller and was showing his disgust by spitting. The spitting incident also saw Rijkaard labeled as ‘The Llama’ by the German press and he was roundly mocked.

In recent years Rijkaard has admitted that the racism accusations were complete bullshit and he has since apologised. Probably the height of hatred between Germany and Holland on the football pitch was at this time but it was sweet revenge for Germany who had gone down to the Oranje on their own patch in the semi-final of Euro 88. Petty, childish and ridiculous handbags from the two legendary players but a memorable moment that’s still quite funny.

Also, if you’re ever in Trier on the French/German border you can grab a great postcard of the spitting incident. I have one on my fridge at home.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

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