Soccer fans have long had a love/hate relationship with the penalty shootout to determine a winner. But maybe it is not so bad when you consider on this day in soccer history in 1968 Italy advanced to the European Championship semifinals on the call of ‘heads or tails.’

Yes after the Soviet Union and the Azzurri ended tied at 0-0 it was decided the outcome would be determined by the toss of a coin.

Soviet Union captain Albert Shesternyov had the chance and pressure to win the game with his dressing room call but ‘Ivan the Terrible’ as the captain was known got it wrong and Italian captain Jacinto Facchetti walked out of the dressing room to announce to the fans Italy had won.

The result started wild celebrations for the host nation as they advanced to the final to face Yugoslavia.

Fortunately the final was decided on the field although it took a replay to determine the winner after the teams drew 1-1 in the first match.  The replay three days later was won 2-0 by Italy.  It was their first conquest of Europe and erased the painful memories of being ousted two years earlier from the FIFA World Cup by minnows North Korea.

“To be honest, we didn’t deserve to draw (the first match),” goalkeeper Dino Zoff said afterwards. “We definitely deserved to win (the replay).”

Soccer Birthdays

1955 – Edino Nazareth Filho, Brazilian football player
1976 – Jack Ross, Scottish footballer
1978 – Fernando Meira, Portuguese football player
1980 – Sutee Suksomkit, Thai football player