IPSWICH TOWN WORLD CUP STORIES: The day Scotland’s John Wark got shirty with Brazil’s Zico

John Wark

John Wark

John Wark features in an incredibly select list of footballers.

Normally, after a game against Brazil, international players flock towards the latest Samba stars to get a memento from their day in the sun.

It’s not often that the roles are reversed.

But that’s exactly what happened in 1982, as Wark reflected on Scotland’s comprehensive defeat by a group of players largely considered to be the best side never to win the World Cup.

At the heart of that team, the player wearing the legendary number 10 shirt made iconic by Pele, was Zico.

The Flamengo star wiped out David Narey’s opener for Jock Stein’s side, on the way to a 4-1 victory, before leaving an indelible mark with Ipswich Town star Wark.

“It was the final whistle and everyone went to swap shirts,” recalls Wark.

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“The one that everyone wanted was Zico’s and I have since joked that it was the nearest that (Alan) Hansen got to him all game!

“But Zico wanted to change with me and the reason for that was that he collected number 10 shirts.

“I gave it away to a charity not long after I returned home and it made a lot of money, but I was delighted to have been able to swap with the player largely considered to be the best Brazilian since Pele.”

The Brazilians went through as group winners, leaving the Tartan Army and the Soviet Union to battle it out for second.

It was Konstantin Beskov’s team that went through courtesy of a 2-2 draw with Scotland in the final group game in Malaga, the Eastern European side going through by virtue of a better goal difference.

“We knew what we had to do before the game,” said Wark, whose side led through Joe Jordan and then rescued a point courtesy of Graeme Souness.

“Scotland fans always say we will do well at major tournaments but I thought we could get to the next round.

“We knew we could beat Soviet Union on our day and we were very unfortunate to draw 2-2.

“We gave away some silly goals in the tournament and I think the New Zealand game probably cost us (Scotland won 5-2), while there was the infamous one against Soviet Union when Hansen and (Willie) Miller collided.”

The game was tied at 1-1 and Scotland just required one goal to progress.

“That was like a Sunday morning goal and there were a few others like that,” said Wark, referring to the Soviet Union mishap.

The New Zealand game proved to bittersweet for Wark, who scored two goals in the clash to finish as his country’s leading scorer at the tournament.

“I was a bit gutted by the way it ended, but I finished as top goalscorer with two goals. It’s not much, but it’s there,” enthused Wark.

“Just getting picked for your country is a privilege and for a boy from Glasgow, to get to play in a World Cup was something else.

“We had a real good squad of players, the likes of Danny McGrain, Frank Gray, Hansen, (Alex) McLeish, (Gordon) Strachan, myself, John Robertson, Kenny (Dalglish) and then you had the likes of (Steve) Archibald and George Burley who were not even in the team.”

He added: “You have to remember that we were playing Brazil, who were the number one team in the world at that time and the Soviet Union who were sixth and we came close to qualifying.

“Brazil were probably the best team not to win the World Cup. They had a big centre-forward (Serginho) who wasn’t really a Brazil-type player but then you had such players as Socrates, Junior and Falcao and playing in the 80 degrees heat, they murdered us in the second half.

“David Narey gave us the lead and I think we probably scored too early.”

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