England Are One Down!' ENGLAND V SAN MARINO .. TAYLOR'S 8.3 SECOND NIGHTMARE; 'Welcome to Bologna on Capital Gold for San Marino versus England with Tennent's Pilsner, Brewed with Czechoslovakian Yeast for That Extra Pilsner Taste.And; EXCLUSIVE

The Mirror (London, England), October 11, 2012 | Go to article overview

England Are One Down!' ENGLAND V SAN MARINO .. TAYLOR'S 8.3 SECOND NIGHTMARE; 'Welcome to Bologna on Capital Gold for San Marino versus England with Tennent's Pilsner, Brewed with Czechoslovakian Yeast for That Extra Pilsner Taste.And; EXCLUSIVE


Byline: MIKE WALTERS m.walters@trinitymirror.com

IT was the night the BBC dumped England after they conceded a goal in just 8.3 seconds against a pub team.

And when San Marino computer salesman Davide Gualtieri tunes into tomorrow night's 2014 World Cup qualifier at Wembley from his home in the tiny mountain-top republic, he will be intrigued to see if England can hold out even longer.

Gualtieri was the poacher who turned Graham Taylor's last stand as Three Lions boss into a black comedy with the fastest goal in World Cup history - and 19 years later, he is still laughing at his own punchline.

"To score such a famous goal was unthinkable," admitted Gualtieri, now 42 and still feted as a hero in Europe's third-smallest state behind Monaco and the Vatican City. Roy Hodgson will expect England to win by a landslide tomorrow - but in 1993, we were all hiding behind the sofa.

To qualify for the World Cup finals in the USA, England needed to beat the group whipping boys by seven goals in Bologna's Stadio Renato Dall'Ara and hope Holland failed to win in Poland the same evening.

They made the worst imaginable start, Stuart Pearce fluffing a routine backpass straight from the kick-off and Gualtieri darting into divert the ball past David Seaman.

England were so shellshocked it took them 22 minutes to draw level, and although Ian Wright scored four goals, Paul Ince two and Les Ferdinand the other in a 7-1 win, ultimately it was immaterial.

Holland won 3-1 in Poznan, Taylor lost his job... and with England leading 4-1 in front of a puny crowd of 2,378, their lowest-ever audience home or away, the Beeb threw in the towel.

They switched to Wales' decisive qualifier against Romania at Cardiff Arms Park, as Paul Bodin - lining up the penalty which could take them to the States - thrashed his spot-kick against the bar. And the rest, as they say, was misery.

The BBC stayed with Wales, whose hearts were broken by Florin Raducioiu's late winner. By the time they went back to Bologna, England's goose was cooked; in truth, it was already basted and in the oven after just 8.3 seconds.

Now, as San Marino prepare to face England for the first time since 1993, Gualtieri (below) told Mirror Sport: "I still laugh about it now. I remember the surprise on everybody's face. Nobody believed San Marino could score against mighty England, certainly not after eight seconds.

"When I see the goal now, I still wonder how we managed to score straight from the kick-off against one of the biggest teams in football.

"We are just a little country of 30,000 people. It is very hard for us to find big athletes or win Olympic medals [San Marino have never graced the podium, although they missed out narrowly on a shooting medal in the women's trap at London 2012].

"For us, it is a dream just to be on the same field as England. To score such a famous goal is unthinkable. It is like winning the World Cup.

"It was not a fantastic goal, but it was an incredible feeling because it was my first touch. …

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England Are One Down!' ENGLAND V SAN MARINO .. TAYLOR'S 8.3 SECOND NIGHTMARE; 'Welcome to Bologna on Capital Gold for San Marino versus England with Tennent's Pilsner, Brewed with Czechoslovakian Yeast for That Extra Pilsner Taste.And; EXCLUSIVE
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