Spain players "were on steroids" in historic 12-1 win over Malta

Malta conceding one of the 12 goals.
Malta conceding one of the 12 goals. / EFE
  • The Malta coach and players have spoken out about the circumstances surrounding the unlikely result which saw Spain qualify for Euro '84

Spain's famous 12-1 win over Malta is, to this day, considered one of the country's finest sporting achievements. La Roja, needing a win by eleven goals to qualify for the 1984 European Championships, did exactly that after turning a 3-1 half time lead into a 12-1 victory in Seville in December 1983.

There have always been suspicions about what occurred at half time (many suspected bribery) but according to accounts given in a documentary aired on Movistar+ on Monday, a number of Malta players suspected that the Spanish players were on steroids.

Victor Scerri, then Malta head coach, suspected foul play the moment his team arrived. He said: “We arrived late but they wouldn’t put the lights on to allow us to train in the stadium. Then they put us in a horrendous hotel where the noise kept us up all night.”

Forward Silvio Demanuele added: “During the game the Spanish players had an unusual amount of energy, some were foaming at the mouth and drinking water constantly. My brother is a bodybuilder so I know the signs of taking steroids.”

Sliced lemons

However, the accusations don’t stop there. The coach said: “At half time a short man dressed in white came in and offered us sliced lemons. When the players sucked on them they reported feeling unwell and some asked if they had been drugged.” Demanuele added: “It felt like I was drunk; like I’d been out all night.”

There are also question marks over the referee on the night: “He was the worst I’d ever seen,” said left-back Emanuel Fabri. “He let the Spanish players get away with everything and he kept saying things like ‘let’s go, play!’ as if to hurry us up.”