Who can forget San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri benefitting from a sloppy Stuart Pearce back-pass to score the fastest goal ever in World Cup qualification after just 8.3 seconds? England won 7-1 but needed a seven goal advantage to advance to USA ’94 while Poland, coincidentally, could not beat Holland.
The Sammarinese side does not boast many big names, in fact it boasts none. Like us only one member of the squad plays outside their home nation, 23-year-old Matteo Coppini who currently plies his trade in surrounding Italy at Campitello. Similar to Fraser Forster who plays in nearby Scotland for Celtic, accept it isn’t similar is it. While Celtic are a European competitor Campitello are an amateur side in the North of Italy, who quite genuinely you or I could possibly play for.
But England should heed warning for the game, as San Marino do seem to love England. While the Gualtieri goal is a huge moment in the countries sporting history they almost came close to something even better this summer, as they achieved the country’s greatest ever Olympic performance at London 2012.
The name Alessandra Perilli probably means absolutely nothing to you, but to San Marino citizens she remains the closest the country has ever come to a Summer Olympic Gold Medal. The 2008 European junior bronze medallist was involved in a three-way shoot-off for the bronze and silver medal in the Women’s trap event of the target shooting. She was the first to miss in a sudden death style format and was therefore rewarded only with a fourth place finish, no medal, but still high esteem in her home country.
Its overall population of 30,000 does not give the country much of a talent pool, despite being one of the richest countries in the world per capita, but each and every one of the players out on that pitch will be going for a place in history by scoring at Wembley.
It does seem unlikely, of course, to highlight the current standard of this batch of Sammarinese footballers the last time they managed to avoid defeat was six years ago, against the Vatican City representative side. But buoyed by the recent narrow defeat to Malta, a side who once nearly embarrassed England in an international friendly 12 years ago, they will be hoping to grab at least a famous goal, like the one they scored in Bologna almost 20 years ago…
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