Surely the most infamous foul in World Cup history, West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher’s brutal body-slam of France’s Patrick Battiston went unpunished — and changed the course of this classic semi-final. There was little hint of the drama to come after West Germany’s Pierre Littbarski and France’s Michel Platini exchanged first half goals. And then the action that today would have earned Schumacher a red card and perhaps a lengthy ban — Battiston was left unconscious, needing to be revived with oxygen — resulted in nothing more than a goal kick. The assault had been so severe that Platini feared his teammate had died. “He had no pulse,” he said of Battiston. “He looked so pale.”
France raced out of the blocks in extra time and there was nothing Schumacher could do to prevent Marius Trésor and Alain Giresse giving Les Bleus a 3-1 lead. But back came West Germany with coach Jupp Derwall summoning semi-fit forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge from the bench: his and Klaus Fischer’s goals meant the game would be the first World Cup match to be decided via penalty kicks. Schumacher, despite being extremely lucky to still be on the field, produced two decisive saves to send West Germany through to the final against Italy. Platini trudged off and said, “The world knows the best team lost.” As for Schumacher, he conceded three goals to Italy as his side lost the final 3-1. Soon afterwards in one of France’s biggest newspapers, they conducted a poll about the least popular man in France. Schumacher came first, beating Adolf Hitler.