The Great Gijon Swindle still has the power to invoke anger, shame and intense interest in the most notorious act of theft in the history of football.
No matter what happens on the pitch tonight at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna, it is unlikely that Bjorn Kuipers, the Dutch referee in charge, will have to handle the kind of heat that Valentine faced after a torrid day under the Spanish sun. What unfolded on June 25, 1982 at the El Molinon stadium in Gijon is unforgotten.
Austria and West Germany committed a crime against football: conspiracy to defraud. The victim was Algeria. The final round of matches in the initial group phase of the World Cup were staggered. By the time the neighbouring countries kicked off, they knew that a 1-0 or 2-0 win for West Germany would allow both teams to progress. Algeria, who had defeated the Germans, would qualify with Austria if Germany failed to win and at the expense of the Austrians if Germany won by more than two goals. West Germany scored after 10 minutes and for the next 80 the level of action was so low that the game became known as the Nichtangriffspakt von Gijon – the non-aggression pact of Gijon. In Algeria they called it the Anschluss, a blunt reference to war-time confederacies.
The neutral Spanish fans in the ground howled in dissent at the stitch-up, while those outraged Algerian fans present shoved peseta bank notes through the fence – caught on television in one of the World Cup's enduring images. No money had changed hands, but what the Austrian and West German players did in Gijon, was match-fixing in its most naked form.
The case has never gone cold, which is why Valentine is still receiving calls, asking him to recall every step he took that day. Austrian newspapers have been talking of their "shame" for over a week in the build up to the game with Joachim Low's side.
"It took me a while to suss it out, maybe 30 minutes," reflects Valentine, now 73, of his experience that afternoon. "This was my first game in the World Cup finals. It was a great honour because I thought it would be a bit like Scotland-England, because they were cross-border rivals.
"Then, I realised what was going on. For the last hour, it was like a training session, played at walking pace with no tackles.
"Any time either side won a corner, nobody went up to challenge and the goalkeepers caught every ball.
"The Spanish fans in the stadium were booing, but there were about 8000 Algerian fans who had turned up, too, because their side had played the day before [Algeria had beaten Chile, giving them two wins from their three group games].
"They knew what was going on, they knew they were going out of the World Cup, despite winning two games. They had beaten the Germans and that was not in the script.
"The Algerian fans were trying to get on the pitch in the last 20 minutes and the Spanish police were trying their best to keep them back, but I could see fans climbing fences. When I blew the final whistle, both Austria and West Germany were through but neither team celebrated. Their players just wanted to get in the dressing room."
Was that through fear or shame?
"The crowd were very hostile, but I think it was just embarrassment," said Valentine yesterday. "It was a shameful day for both countries. Afterwards, there was huge furore. Other countries wanted Austria and West Germany to be kicked out. Some people even said I should be punished too, but thankfully FIFA stuck by me. I was not there to force two teams to play harder."
West Germany went all the way to the final, knocking out a brilliant French team on penalties in the final four before losing to Italy.
Valentine, too, was allowed to progress in the tournament. FIFA cleared the referee instantly of any implication in the scandal. "They gave me the Poland-Soviet Union game to do at the Nou Camp, which was a big game with Poland's [political] Solidarity movement trying to break the USSR's hold on them," added the former referee.
The legacy of the game in Gijon influenced the way all major tournaments are operated. Television scheduling was behind the staggered final round games in 1982, but even that well-paying master had to be denied to prevent a repeat of those events in future competitions.
"It was the game that changed football for ever," said Valentine. "After Gijon, FIFA recognised that could never happen again, so they ensured that all final group matches started at the same time in the 1986 World Cup and that rule has become commonplace. It does not matter whether it is the Champions League, World Cup finals, SPL or the English Premier League, they now all ensure that on the last set of fixtures, games must start at the same time."