Although it was 11 months earlier that the Football League started allowing substitutes, they had not yet reached the World Cup. For 120 minutes in the summer sunshine, England and West Germany’s players knew they had to keep running until the final whistle because if they could not, there would be no one to take their place.
Tomorrow’s European Championship final will be very different, and with the possibility of 12 substitutes if the game goes to extra-time, it would be no great surprise if the matchwinner was not playing from the start.
England and Italy have both shown over the course of the month they have players capable of coming off the bench and making an impact.
Substitutes were key to Italy’s 2-1 last-16 win over Austria at Wembley, where all three goals were scored by replacements. Jack Grealish made his mark at the same stage, involved in both goals against Germany after coming on for Bukayo Saka.
In the semi-final against Denmark, Kieran Trippier came off the England bench to help protect a 2-1 lead as they switched to five at the back. That he came on for substitute Grealish felt bold, but if the five substitutes allowed supposedly only as a concession to Covid-19 – those competitions that want to are able to continue it next season – become entrenched, moments like that might become more routine.
For Sheffielder Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the concern will be whether he gets the chance to be a super-sub. With squads expanded to 29 because of Covid but benches kept at 12, the Everton centre-forward missed the cut in the matches either side of his appearance against Ukraine. But there will be game-changers aplenty for Gareth Southgate and Roberto Mancini.
Grealish seems to have acquired that job despite outside pressure for him to start, and whoever is not selected out of Saka, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho will be a dangerous option from the bench. Raheem Sterling’s form means Marcus Rashford has barely had an opportunity yet, but there is still one game to play.
During the tournament Federico Chiesa has elevated himself from sub to starter but Manuel Locatelli, late call-up Matteo Pessina, Domenico Berardi and Andrea Belotti will all have to stay warm and focused tomorrow.