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#213: The Man Who Beat Dino Zoff (fwd)
From: Charles Arthur - Haiti Support Group <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To celebrate the start of the English football season (that's soccer to our
US cousins), I'm posting the following extract from the recently published
"Libčte: A Haiti Anthology", [ISBN 1-55876-213-2], co-edited by myself and
Here's hoping Haiti qualifies for the 2006 World Cup finals, and that they
will be staged here in England.
'The Man Who Beat Dino Zoff', by Charles Arthur, 1998
Manno Sanon's goals put Haiti on the footballing map when, in 1974, it
became the first Caribbean nation to qualify for the World Cup finals.
Manno Sanon, Haiti's first soccer superstar, is a modest man. Of the goal
he scored against Italy in the 1974 World Cup finals he says, "It was
nothing special. I scored a lot of goals." His goals, an astounding 47 of
the 106 scored in the four years after he broke into the national team,
helped Haiti top their qualifying group and become the first Caribbean
nation to qualify for the World Cup.
He was already a hero in Haiti, but his powerful run and strike against
Italy, a goal voted the best of the entire tournament by international
football writers, turned him into a legend. Now twenty four years since
that goal, and back in Haiti after a long time living abroad, Manno is
clearly chuffed by the reception he has received, "When I go to do
something that should take five minutes, it takes an hour, because everyone
wants to ask me about that goal."
Haiti's qualification was made possible by the patronage of the dictator,
Jean-Claude Duvalier, who through the Haitian Football Federation, paid the
squad of talented amateurs a monthly retainer during the long qualifying
process. Nevertheless relations between team and benefactor were far from
Manno recalls the euphoria and tensions after Mexico's failure to beat
Trinidad in the qualification tournament played in Port-au-Prince meant
Haiti were through to the finals in West Germany,
"It was the first time a small country like Haiti had qualified for the
World Cup. At that time there were only 16 teams in the tournament, so it
was quite something. The night we knew we had qualified, well, the country
was upside down. It was crazy."
Then the successful players demanded a bonus of more than $5,000 and the
furious dictator sent a message saying the strike threat deserved a death
sentence. His representative let it be known that they would be pardoned
but would be expected to do their patriotic duty by representing Haiti in
The team's first game was against Italy, finalists in 1970, and led by
goalkeeper Dino Zoff who had just completed 12 consecutive internationals
without conceding a goal.
"Everybody was asking who would beat Dino Zoff. The newspapers mentioned
European and South American players, but nobody thought a Haitian could do
it. That upset me because I knew I could do it."
The Haitian team surpassed all expectations by holding Italy to 0-0 in the
first half. Two minutes into the second half, Manno shocked everyone but
"With my pace, you can't leave me with just one defender, but that is what
happened. I was one-on-one with Spinosi. I received a pass from Phillipe
Vorbe. I beat the defender with my speed. One-on-one with Dino Zoff, and
the goal was wide open. I dummied to go left, and then went right. I
rounded him, and rolled the ball into the net."
One of the biggest upsets in World Cup history was on the cards, but it was
not to be. Five minutes later Italy equalised. The Haitian team began to
tire, and the relentless Italian attacks brought two more goals. Worse was
to come. After the game a Haitian player tested positive for drugs - a
cold-cure like Maradona in 1994? Later that night a fight broke out between
some of the Haitian players and Duvalierists in the Haitian delegation who
were furious that the country's honour had been besmirched.
The demoralised team lost its two other matches with Poland and Argentina,
but Manno's goal against Zoff had made him a star. After the tournament he
signed for the Antwerp club, Beerschoot, at that time a force to be
reckoned with in Belgian football.
After seven years in Antwerp and 16 in the US, Manno has now returned to
live in Haiti, and is trying to revitalise Haitian soccer.
"The country is in a state, and Haitian football is in poor shape too. Me
and some of my teammates from before are talking about what we can do to
make those good times come back again. We have pure talent in the street -
it's like Brazil. You don't have to send them to school or coach them. They
know it themselves. But the conditions are not right."
Copyright Charles Arthur 1998 - all rights reserved.
This is just one of over 180 extracts in "Libčte: A Haiti Anthology".
Authors featured include Amy Wilentz, Michel Laguerre, Rene Depestre,
Graham Greene, Dany Laferriere, Sidney Mintz, Laennec Hurbon, Allan Nairn,
Jacques Roumain, P.J.O'Rourke, and Felix Morisseau-Leroy.
This book is now available in the US where it is published by Markus
Wiener. It costs $39.95 for hardcover and $19.95 paperback. Shipping &
handling: $2.50 for the first book; $1.00 for each additional book.
See the website: <http://www.markuswiener.com> for details.
Markus Wiener Publishers
100 Newfield Ave.
Edison, NJ 08837
Haiti Support Group (email@example.com)