Patrick Battiston has barely recovered 40 years after the World Cup duel with Schumacher

Time has eased the mental anguish, but even 40 years wasn’t enough to fully heal Patrick Battiston’s broken body.

The now 65-year-old victim of the most vicious on-field attack the World Cup has ever seen has suffered from headaches and back pain to this day.

The only consolation as the anniversary of the former St Etienne defender’s infamous duel with West Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher approaches on July 8 is that he’s still there to see it.

When Michel Platini rushed to the aid of his team-mate on that fateful night in Seville, he briefly feared Battiston was dead.

He held his limp hand, saw how pale he was, and felt no pulse. Scandalously, it took seven minutes for the porters to arrive at the gate, administer oxygen and carry Battiston away.

It had been Platini’s miraculous through ball that sparked a race between Battiston and Schumacher in the 60th minute of the epic semi-final at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Forty years have passed since France’s Patrick Battison (L) was sidestepped by West Germany’s goalkeeper Harald Schumacher in the 1982 World Cup

Battiston got straight into the penalty area long before the German, but hit him wide of the target.

The FC Köln keeper had enough time to step on the brakes. Instead, he leapt into the air, twisting his body and plowing his hip into the Frenchman’s face at high speed.

It’s hard to imagine an act that could have been more ruthless.

In a truly horrific twist of fate, Schumacher got away completely just because the attack was so late that anyone following the ball missed.

There was no foul, no penalty or even a yellow card. Instead, Dutch referee Charles Corver signaled a goal kick.

“If I had the chance to watch it again? I think I would have given Schumacher a red card,” Corver later said. “But in the match I was convinced that I made the right decision.

“It was difficult to assess what happened because I followed the ball. I thought it was a goal. A little later I recognized the collision. I went to my assistant and asked him if he saw anything I missed.”

Attacking on the field remains one of the most disgusting fouls in World Cup history

Attacking on the field remains one of the most disgusting fouls in World Cup history

In the days before officials from the same country were officiating, the assistant in question was none other than Bob Valentine.

Like Corver, the Dundee man had watched the ball roll out of play and seen nothing unusual at the time.

“To be honest, there wasn’t much protest at the stadium against this challenge,” Valentine later explained.

“The French coach came to our dressing room after the game. There was no, “What about it”? It looked worse on TV than on the pitch.”

It wasn’t just the officers who overlooked a brawl taking place in front of everyone.

BBC commentator Barry Davies, high up in the main stand, was also blinded until a replay flashed on his monitor.

“Platini…that’s a great ball,” he roared. “Battiston… it’s just wide. What a wonderful ball by Platini. Battiston just couldn’t provide closure when Schumacher came out and hit him pretty hard too I have to say.

Battiston lost two teeth, suffered three broken ribs and suffered lifelong back problems

Battiston lost two teeth, suffered three broken ribs and suffered lifelong back problems

“It would be interesting to know if the referee thought it was a real attempt by the goalkeeper to play the ball.”

What’s striking now, looking back at the footage, is that the majority of players on the pitch don’t immediately realize the seriousness of the situation.

The animated Platini is the exception, but there are only ever three blueshirts around her battered teammate. The Germans keep their distance from a man.

When Corver belatedly signals to carry, Schumacher stands in the six-yard box with his hands on his hips, holds the ball up and passes it back and forth to a teammate. It seems like the incident is causing him a great deal of inconvenience.

As the game restarts, television images switch to Battiston being carted through the tunnel, drifting in and out of consciousness.

He lost two teeth, fractured three ribs and suffered lifelong damage to his vertebrae. That he actually played again six months later was nothing short of a miracle.

Was it the goalkeeper’s intention?

Battiston, who started the game on the bench, certainly sensed that Schumacher was a man on the fringes. “I was on the sidelines and had already noticed that Schumacher was quite aggressive that day,” he said.

Whatever was on Schumacher’s mind as he sped off his line to take out Battiston, the replays the keeper saw by the end of the game were unequivocal.

However, instead of taking responsibility, his flippant remarks added fuel to the fire.

Battiston incredibly played again six months later despite his devastating injuries

Battiston incredibly played again six months later despite his devastating injuries

Told by the French media that he knocked out Battiston’s teeth, the German shrugged: “If it’s just the teeth, tell him I’m paying his dentist.”

If Schumacher set out to become a hated figure throughout France that day, then he certainly succeeded.

In a newspaper poll conducted soon after, he called Adolf Hitler France’s greatest enemy.

Anti-German feelings across the nation grew in the weeks that followed when portraits of the warden were found on lampposts.

Chancellor Helmut Schmidt sent a telegram to President Francois Mitterrand and both issued statements to try to defuse the crisis.

It was not lost on anyone that Schumacher stayed in the park and saved Maxime Bossis’ penalty, allowing Horst Hrubesch to take West Germany into the final in a 3-3 draw after extra time.

It says a lot that the Battiston incident remains so striking all these years later because, measured in terms of a football game, that game in Seville was one to last forever.

West Germany, the reigning European champions, boasted Paul Breitner, Uli Stielike, Felix Magath and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Referee Charles Corver now concedes that he should have given Schumacher a red card

However, the Dutch official allowed the game to continue and instead blew on a goal kick instead of giving him his marching orders

Referee Charles Corver (L) now admits he should have given Schumacher (R) a red card

Supporting actors for the incomparable Platini included Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Didier Six.

The drama was breathtaking and unrelenting. Platini’s first-half penalty restored the equalizer after Pierre Littbarski put the opener on target.

The second half offered countless chances, but they were not used. Marius Tresor and Giresse struck within eight minutes of extra time starting and it seemed like justice was being served.

“All the flags in the stadium are red, white and blue,” commentator Davies said. “The French think they’ve made it to the final.”

Rummenigge, just fit enough to start on the bench, blasted home a volley to pierce the French momentum while Klaus Fischer’s acrobatic overhead won the fight over distance.

Clear the stage for the villain of the hour. Having already got the misguided Stielike off the hook by saving Six’s penalty, Schumacher fended off Bossis and made way for Hrubesch to finish the job.

Schumacher's foul made him public enemy No. 1 in France after an incident that shocked football

Schumacher’s foul made him public enemy No. 1 in France after an incident that shocked football

But the aftermath of the match was felt well beyond West Germany’s defeat by Italy in the final three days later.

Three decades later, Gerard Houllier claimed the incident triggered a victim complex that inspired France’s subsequent successes.

More immediately, a few months after the tournament, Schumacher approached Battiston – apparently – through a third party.

It’s never been clarified if he went as far as apologizing, but it’s believed he at least sounded contrite.

“I went up to him and we talked about how we were feeling,” Battiston explained.

“That was the end of it for me. I don’t remember if he apologized, I’m not sure, but after we met it was over. No bad blood.

“I don’t feel sorry for him, but I don’t have a problem either. I have forgiven him.

“As time went on, I realized that people labeled him with that forever. It is finished.’

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