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It was also a duel between two formations whose hallmark was a balance between defensive steel and inspired forward play.
The two giants of Europe were doing battle to decide who would line up in the final against the winner of the all South American tie between Brazil and Uruguay, played at Guadalajara on the same day.
In the 67th minute Beckenbauer charged forward only to be bundled over by Pierluigi Cera. But no, Arturo Yamakasi decided the foul had been committed outside the box.
As the furious German side crowded around the ref, Beckenbauer stayed down, his right shoulder pulled out of joint, and since the Mannschaft had already made their two substitutions, the Kaiser had to stay on the field.
And so began probably the most memorable period of extra-time in footballing history.
Beckenbauer set the tone by taking the field with his arm in a sling - which did nothing to stop him tearing towards goal whenever he got the ball.
Tension mounted with each passing second, Siegfried Held walloped a volley past Albertosi only to see Roberto Rosato acrobatically clear off the line.
Seeler and then Muller fluffed chances in quick succession. Just a few more minutes and the Squadra Azzura would be home and dry.
But it was the Italians who turned this false rhythm to their advantage, springing a surprise on the West German team led by the old lion Uwe Seeler.
At the tender age of 34, the tireless Seeler was taking part in his fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup ™, and it was the Hamburg striker's ability to get his head to almost every free kick that constituted the main threat to the Italians in the opening half-hour.
But little by little, his strike partner, 'Bomber' Muller started to make his presence felt at the heart of the Italian defence.
Bertini had been picked instead of Dino Zoff by coach Ferruccio Valcareggi, much to the displeasure of the Friulian's supporters, and he was soon called into action again, this time turning an even better-struck shot from Jürgen Grabowski round the post for a corner.
The second half followed the same crescendo-like rhythm.