The Tournoi de France of 1997 lies forlorn and forgotten by many, the VHS tapes of which lie gathering dust beneath an old TV at my parents’ house. Perhaps best remembered for Roberto Carlos’ epic free kick, the banana blast heard round the world, Le Tournoi was like a precursor to the Confederations Cup: a friendly tournament held in the host nation as a sort of dry-run to the cup. Brazil, France, England, and Italy all vying for little piece of nothing or just maybe some confidence in the real tourney.
Sad it is that Le Tournoi has been forgotten, for the football was epic. The hi-jinks of Romario, of Barthez, of the young and still-talented David Beckham, and of Del Piero and Company promised a tournament that would erase the memory of 94’s flaccid penalty kick final. Brazilian football neared its zenith, sporting a menagerie of magicians and jesters channeling the spirit of ’82. Alas, it was not meant to be. Romario was left off the squad and France beet the Selecao in the final to take home the cup. More 1990 than 1970 and the world wonders what 2014 will bring.
Italy vs. Brazil 3-3 and one of the best games of the 20 years. Coincidentally, Le Tournoi de France was the last time England won anything. They have not come close since. Every game can be found on youtube and they are all worth watching.
And let us not forget…