THE story of the 1990 World Cup isn't really the story of a football tournament.

OK, we remember with a smile Roger Milla’s bum-wiggle, we recall with joy Gary Lineker's inane grin as he mounted David Platt after his winner against the Belgians and we acknowledge through gritted teeth West Germany’s success.

But, English or not, 1990 was all about one man - the best player in the tournament, the most naturally gifted footballer ever to wear an England shirt, the man whose bright red tear and snot-drenched face leaps straight into your head every time you hear Nessun dorma.

One Night in Turin is a new film about Italia 90, based on Pete Davies's All Played Out, regarded by anyone who's read it as the best book about football ever written.

The film starts by looking at the significantly less-than-perfect English build-up to the tournament, as the press rounded on manager Bobby Robson for having the temerity to ensure he would still be in gainful employment post Italia 90.

The FA had told Robson he would be relieved of his England duties pretty much as soon as the World Cup was over. In the meantime, Robson had, quite reasonably, signed on the dotted line with a new employer, PSV Eindhoven.

The press considered the England manager's perfectly reasonable attempt to keep a roof over his head as an act of high treason. They hung him out to dry less than a month before the squad flew out to their Sardinian base.

Through archive footage, the drama and tension of this period is brought to life, Robson visibly furious but characteristically honourable in the face of the media’s baleful onslaught.

The other villain of the peace is the then sports minister Colin Moynihan, in Brian Clough’s memorable words, ‘the worst sports minister this country has ever had’.

Between Moynihan and Margaret Thatcher, it’s a wonder we ever actually made it to Italy, Thatcher backing a proposal to actually stop England going to Italy and Moynihan telling everyone who’d listen that our supporters were worse than animals.

As One Night in Turin proves, this diminutive non-entity achieved nothing other than to give the England fans, many of whom were beaten and wrongfully arrested by the rein-free Italian police, a rallying point for their profound sense of betrayal by the English establishment.

Anyway, off England went, with all the pre-match talk around one man – Paul Gascoigne.

It’s hard to believe now but his seat on the plane was touch and go, his temperament giving the press plenty to get on his case about. But go he did.

With all Gazza’s recent troubles, One Night in Turin gives us a timely reminder of exactly why we all fell in love with this effervescent genius.

The film only uses archive footage – there are no modern contextual interviews, all the footage is from the time. Having said that, the match action is intercut with reconstructed, modern-day footage.

This effect, coupled with the director’s insistence on showing each dramatic moment from several different camera angles (so you’ll see Lineker shoot, then it will cut to reconstructed footage, then to a different angle of the ball going into the net) makes for frustrating viewing. At times, you just want to see a goal go in continuously from one angle, just to appreciate and bask in the moment.

One Night in Turin is fantastically nostalgic. For example, it quite brilliantly reminds you how rubbish England’s first game, against Ireland, was. This was their fault, not England’s. Ireland scored just two goals on the way to the quarter-finals and were cited as one of the major reasons the tournament is regarded as one of the most boring in history.

It set a record low goals-per-game average and persuaded FIFA to ban backpasses to the goalkeeper for the next tournament to prevent time-wasters ruining games.

After that, we turned things round. Gazza was sublime in the 0-0 with Holland, the reigning European champions. He delivered the free-kicks to Mark Wright and David Platt to take us past Egypt and Belgium respectively. And his astonishing through ball to Gary Lineker in extra time against Cameroon took us to the World Cup semi-final for the first time on foreign soil.

His tears became the story of the semi-final loss to West Germany and the film expertly casts him as little brother to all of us, full of energy and emotion, mentally not ready for any of this but physically so wonderfully, wonderfully strong.

The film ends abruptly at our loss – there’s nothing more to be said after all – but over the credits we get a few of England’s highlights since those days, right up to Fabio Capello’s appointment.

I would rank this as, very marginally, the second best film made about Italia 90. The best, if you can get your hands on a copy, is Kevin Allen’s fan’s eye view of the tournament, which was broadcast on the BBC sometime in the early 1990s. Allen is thanked in the credits of this film and I think I spotted some of his footage.

For my generation, the 1990 World Cup was the best, most dramatic, most successful football tournament England have been involved in and One Night in Turin does justice to all the emotion entwined around it.

It brings to mind all the thoughts and feelings you had at the time and it reveals some things you may never have spotted (German captain and all-round class act Lothar Matthaus ignores his team’s celebratory pile-up and spends a good minute consoling Chris Waddle after he misses his penalty and if you’ve ever wondered what Bobby Robson said to Gazza at the final whistle of that epic contest then watch this film – his Churchillian words of wisdom to his inconsolable virtuoso are subtitled).

If the film of South Africa 2010 has a tenth of the inherent drama to put at its core then it will be a nail-biting summer for England fans.

One Night in Turin is released on DVD on May 31.