Blizzards and blurs: how FC Porto won an incredible world title in Tokyo

As the FIFA Club World Cup moves towards conclusion, we look back on an incredible 1987 decider.

THE MOST FAMOUS goal of Rabah Madjer’s life was an audacious backheel from four yards that helped Porto to defeat Bayern Munich and become champions of Europe.

That was more than 27 years ago. “Even now, when somebody scores with a backheel the commentator will call it ‘a Madjer’. I’m very proud of that,” the great Algerian forward told Goal.

“I didn’t have time to think, and I knew the only way I could score from that position was with a backheel. I just did it and it went in.”

The most bizarre goal he ever scored came six months later, in December 1987. He shot from 35 yards over the goalkeeper, in a blizzard. The ball slowed down in the snow and took so long to roll over the line “it was as if time stood still,” said Madjer. It trickled over, Madjer was euphoric and that goal made Porto champions of the world.

They defeated Penarol 2-1 after extra time in the Toyota Cup in Tokyo, in the worst playing conditions for a major match in living memory.

Soccer - Intercontinental Cup Final - Toyota Cup - FC Porto v C.A. Penarol - National Stadium - Tokyo Source: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

There were two inches of snow covering most parts of the pitch, ankle-deep mud and slush in the middle and the goalmouths, and heavy snowfall throughout.

Players who tackled would slide along as if on a sled. Visibility was terrible, the yellow ball never bounced and it was impossible to control and pass in any normal way. It was comical. Amazingly, more than 45,000 braved the blizzard to watch the game, or at least tried to.

“The game had to be played because of obligations to sponsors and television,” said Madjer.

“The conditions were atrocious but this was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. We wanted to play. It was a great honour for me to play in that match. I was really fired up for it, at the top of my game at the time.

It was just about impossible to follow the instructions of the coach, so we had to play on instinct, and with passion. As the weather got colder, I got warmer with the intensity of it. I was hot, I was really into it. And that team, we all had warm hearts, like brothers, we were very much together.”

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The game went to extra time. Porto slugged it out, and when Madjer’s 110th-minute shot over the goalkeeper from 35 yards eventually crept over the line, the players rushed to celebrate with him. He had also created Porto’s first goal.

Soccer - Intercontinental Cup Final - Toyota Cup - FC Porto v C.A. Penarol - National Stadium - Tokyo Source: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

His memory of that winning goal is something of a blur – literally. “I couldn’t see clearly because there was so much snow falling,” Madjer said. “I could see a shape, a silhouette, and I sensed that the goalkeeper had come far off his line. So I shot from long range.”

The ball flew high over the head of goalkeeper Eduardo Pereira. It landed a few yards from the goal and, with the snow slowing its momentum, it looked as though it might not make it over the line.

“It was as if time had stood still,” said Madjer. “A few minutes earlier I had had a shot that was a few centimetres away from a goal. This time the whole team was frozen, there was so much tension. Everybody wanted salvation from the freezing cold. We all wanted to blow that ball over the line. It rolled slowly, slowly and then it was in! We were euphoric.”

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