Like all prophets, Bearzot has had to endure scorn and derision before others have acclaimed the wisdom of his ways.
Never was he more reviled than after Italy scraped through the first round of the finals without winning a match. The nadir was being held to a 1-1 draw by Cameroon.
Bearzot refused to be rattled. He realised that the 10-man defensive wall Cameroon slung in front of his players would have tested the greatest of forward lines.
So when someone asked him how Italy would play in the second round he said simply : “The same as we have done so far.”
Against teams as attack-minded as Bearzot’s side, Italy suddenly assumed the look of potential world champions.
In their first second-round match they beat Argentina, the Cup holders, and then a week ago achieved…