On This Day In 1982: Bryan Robson Scores After Just 27 Seconds Against France In The World Cup

On This Day In 1982: Bryan Robson Scores After Just 27 Seconds Against France In The World Cup
07:15, 16 Jun 2018

The early 1980s was a pretty forgettable period for the England national team, except, that is, for an electrifying start to the World Cup in June of 1982 when Bryan Robson scored one of the quickest goals in the history of the tournament.

A poor showing in the 1980 European Championships would only be eclipsed by the failure to even qualify four years later meaning that it was imperative that Ron Greenwood’s men gave the nation something to shout about in Spain as his side of ageing stars and promising youngsters looked to silence their critics.

England had only just managed to make the finals in Spain after a 3-1 victory against Hungary in Budapest ensured they avoided the humiliation of another World Cup at home as they had during the finals of 1974 and 1978 despite defeats against Romania, Switzerland and Norway.

Greenwood’s squad going into that tournament was littered with players who were probably more than aware that this was to be their final appearance on the world stage; the likes of Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking, both legends of the game but way past their best, along with other experienced stars such as Mick Mills and Trevor Francis who also made the final 32.

But a smattering of young and relatively untried players who also made the trip to Spain that summer gave the side the promise and guile which led many to believe progression to the latter stages was a very real possibility; and none more so than Bryan Robson.

The future England and Manchester United captain was already making a name for himself as a tough-tackling midfielder with the pace and ability to get up and down the field while also possessing a keen eye for goal; something which he demonstrated to frightening effect in England’s first group game of the tournament against France in Bilbao.

Injuries to the influential pair of Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking meant that England were the shadow of the side which had qualified for the World Cup making five changes in total; though the Three Lions’ loss was Robson’s gain as he took his big opportunity with both hands.

As England’s first World Cup game in 12 years got underway the searing afternoon heat looked like it might take its toll but straight from kick-off they demonstrated their intention to take the game to a France team which would become one of the most feared in world football at the time.

England immediately won a throw-in on the right side of the field and as Steve Coppell launched the ball forward, Terry Butcher flicked it forward for Bryan Robson who acrobatically hooked it beyond a stunned Jean-Luc Ettori in the France goal.

The goal was timed at 27 seconds and was credited as being the fastest officially recorded in the history of the finals despite Vaclav Masek, whose strike for Czechoslovakia in 1962 was later timed at 16 seconds, and Ernst Lehner who scored after just 26 seconds for Germany against Austria in 1934.

Even so, the achievement would ultimately lead to its scorer receiving a specially engraved watch to mark the occasion; but he wasn’t finished there, scoring another that day as England went on to triumph 3-1 and start their campaign in emphatic fashion.

However, despite winning all three of their group games and conceding just one goal England were eventually eliminated in a somewhat convoluted second group stage thanks to two draws with Germany and Spain; incredibly exiting the tournament having not lost a game in the entire competition.

As for Robson, he would go on to captain his country at the World Cups of 1986 and 1990 and completed an incredible double when his 38-second effort against Yugoslavia in 1989 became the fastest goal ever recorded at Wembley.

Despite its dubious nature his strike after 27 seconds at Spain ‘82 remained the fastest ever recorded in World Cup finals until 2002, when Hakan Suker struck in the third place play-off game against South Korea after an astonishing 10.89 seconds.

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