100 Most Memorable World Cup Moments (50-41)

The beautiful game returns to its spiritual home with the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. We at Goalden Times are revisiting the 100 most memorable moments from the past editions. Some are inspirational, some are controversial. Some will leave a smile on your face, some will make you wanting for more. You will find everything here. The sixth installment: Moments 50 – 41.

Match: Cuba vs. Romania
Round: Round of 16 (First round)
Venue & Date: Stade Chapou, Toulouse, France, 5th & 9th June, 1938


World was preparing for another world war at 1938, and the 3rd FIFA world cup in France took place among hostile conditions. The tournament retained the same format of 1934, with every round being knock-out round. Many countries could not participate in the qualifying rounds, and many countries did not send their team for participation keeping the world war in mind. Cuba, the central American nation benefited from such situation, as all of its north and central American neighbours did not send their team in the qualifying rounds, and thus helped Cuba directly qualify for the final round of the tournament.

Back in those days, the qualifying round was spread over around the world, and groups were formed from nations of same or close-by continents. Cuba was placed in group 11 sub group A with Mexico and USA. After both Mexico and USA withdrew, the organisers formed a sub group B between Cuba, Colombia, Costa Rica and El Salvador for qualification. Later in April 1938, both Colombia and El Salvador withdrew, forcing FIFA to include earlier excluded Surinam along with Cuba and Costarica to play in a triangular knock-out tournament. Surinam withdrew citing financial reasons and Costarica withdrew as well, giving Cuba a walkover, and qualification to 1938 World cup without playing a single match.

Romania was grouped with Egypt in group 4. Egypt withdrew, and Romania also qualified for the final round, in much more simpler manner compared to Cuba, without playing a match.
Cuba was a strong footballing nation during 30s, but they were completely unknown to the European nations. Romania had a fairly strong squad, and due to the lack of knowledge about the Cubans, pundits considered the Romanians as favourite to win the match against Cuba on 5th June at Tolouse. Romania took lead in the match via Silviu Bineda on 35th minute, but Cuban slowly took control of the match. Their quick passing and tricky plays surprised the Romanians. Cuba equalised at the stroke of half time via Hector Socorro. Cuba surprised everyone to take the lead 2-1 after Jose Magrina scored in the 59th minute. Romania restored parity with 2 minutes left in the match to take the game to extra time, via an Iuliu Baratky goal. Hector Socorro again gave Cuba the lead in the 103rd minute, but again Romania equalised within 2 minutes via Stefan Dobay. There were no more goals in the exciting match and it ended 3-3, requiring a replay 4 days later, according the rules of the world cup in those days.

Romania had a fare idea about their opponents before the replay on 9th June, and started the match accordingly. Cuba made a significant change in their line-up, replacing goal-keeper Benito Carvajales with Juan Ayra. Romania took lead again in 35th minute, via Stefan Dobay, and the score was 1-0 at halftime. Romanian anticipated the Cuban trickery much better this time, and looked set to qualify for the next round. Cuba came back strongly in the 2nd half, equalising through Hector Socorro in 51st minute. Thomas Fernandez scored the winning goal for Cuba in the 57th minute, and Cuba held on to the 2-1 lead for rest of the match. They lost to European powerhouse Sweden 0-8 in the next round and bowed out of the tournament. Till date, this was Cuba’s only appearance in world cup football.

Match: West Germany vs. France
Stage: 3rd place decider
Date & Venue: Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden, 28th June 1958


Sometimes there are those amazing feats which are timeless and still stand high. Just Fontaine’s record of 13 goals in one single World Cup is just one of them. He, in course, also became the second player to have scored two hat-tricks in a single World Cup in 1958. The first person to do so was Sandor Kocsis of Hungary in 1954. The third person to have achieved this is Gerd Muller of West Germany later in 1970. Also to be noted here, Gabriel Batistuta does have two hat-tricks but in different Word Cups, in 1994 and 1998.

In the semi-finals, the hosts, Sweden played West Germany in a high voltage match and the Swedes came back from behind to win it 3-1 and progress to the final. In the other semifinal match, Brazil trio of Vava, Didi and Pele – with a hat-trick – were too hot to handle and France lost 2-5. The stage was set for the third position match between defending champions West Germany and France, with the former clearly starting as favourites.

West Germany started well, and Hans Schafer did find the back of the net but the goal was disallowed because of foul on the opposition goalkeeper. It was quite an end-to-end and open match and Fontaine drew first blood as he scored to cap a brilliant run by Raymond Kopa – arguably the best no. 10 of that era with whom Fontaine had created a deadly combination – in the 16th minute. Their joy was short lived as Germany equalized right from the restart via Hans Cieslarczyk in the 18th minute. France had not even touched the ball after scoring their opener. France however continued to move the ball well. Raymond Kopa was tackled from behind in the penalty box and he himself stepped up to slot the penalty to the right of the German goalkeeper in the 27th minute. 9 minutes later Fontaine scored his second from a goalmouth scramble out of a a French corner. West Germany dominated the rest of the first half but was unable to find the net owing to some brilliant goalkeeping by Francois Remetter and that is how the first half ended with France leading by 3-1.

Germans started the second half where they had left the first but French forward Yvon Douis found a goal rather against the run of play in the 50th minute. Now West Germans had a mountain to climb but they responded positively. Helmut Rahn pegged one back within two minutes through sublime skills and a terrific finish to match with that. As the match progressed, West Germany kept on looking to cut down the French lead of 4-2, while the French relied more on counter-attacks via Kopa and Fontaine. And then in the 78th minute Fontaine found the net, a measured finish from the top of the box, second post bottom corner, and thus completed his hat trick. Three goals behind, the Germans went gung-ho and amazingly earned their prize. Schafer scored from open play in the 84th minute and the scoreboard read 5-3 in favour of France.
West German by then had almost everyone attacking, trying to get back on level terms with France. So in the 89th minute, when Fontaine, the only man up front for France received a ball from a French clearance, near about the center circle, amazingly there was no one between him and the German goalkeeper. Fontaine just ran with the ball and placed it neatly past the oncoming keeper. At final whistle the score was 6-3, Fontaine had 4 goals in the match and 13 goals in the tournament.
Fontaine’s record tally of 13 goals in the World Cup was later broken by Gerd Muller who netted 14 in the 1970 and 1974 editions. But Fontaine’s haul of 13 in a single tournament – where no one else scored more than 6 – remains a record and may never be broken. And he did not even have his own footwear – he simply had borrowed a pair of boots from a team mate.

Match: Croatia vs. Germany
Round: Quarter-final
Venue & Date: Stade Gerland, Lyon,France, 4th July, 1998


Croatia faced Germany in the quarter-final of 1998 World Cup in a re-match of the EURO 1996 where Germany prevailed by 2-1. Croatia’s progress to the quarter-final was a silent one, and without much challenge. Croatia , to be fair, did have some great players in their rank, such as Zvonimir Boban, Davor Suker, Mario Stanic, Slaven Bilic & Robert Jarni. They defeated fellow debutants Japan and Jamaica and thus ensured losing to Argentina in the last match of the group stage would not hinder their progress to the next round. There they got better of Romania via a Davor Suker penalty.

Germany in comparison had a pretty experienced but ageing side, with 5 players of their starting line up were above thirty. Their campaign suffered almost a jolt in the round of sixteen where they trailed 0-1 to Mexico till the 75th minute before prevailing 2-1.

Germans started the match cautiously with compact defending, and attacked the Croatian territory sporadically. The match was in German control – they were winning the tackles and testing Drazen ladic with long rangers. Ladic was also up to the mark as he spectacularly saved a couple of great shots by Thomas Hässler and a close header by Dietmar Hamann. But it all hanged in the 40th minute, when German defender Christian Woerns caught Davor Suker late. Suker did his part of play-acting and influenced the Norwegian referee Rune Pederson to give Woerns the marching orders. Germany was in shock and their woes compounded when Croatia scored the opener in the dying seconds of the first-half injury time (48th minute). Suker succeeded in drawing three defenders along with him to leave lot of vacant space for Stanic who advanced up the field freely before passing the ball to Jarni. German midfielder Jorg Heinrich did not close down Jarni when he received the ball from Stanic, and rather backed off the shot stopper Andreas Koepke’s vision. Jarni took a curling low left-footer from the edge of the penalty area to beat Koepke on the far post and make it 1-0 going into the half time.

Germans fought back right from the restart. Not bogged down by the disadvantage of one less player in the field, they attacked fearlessly. They had a great chance in the 53rd minute, when Oliver Bierhoff blasted a volley off a corner that shook up Ladic, pushing him into the goal but he just about managed to keep the in front of the line. Then in the 79th minute, Hamann’s free kick got deflected off a Croatia player in the wall and hit the left post, signaling that it was not going to be a great day for the Germans.

On the other hand, Croatia, famous for their counter attacking style of play, enjoyed the empty spaces vacated by a desperate German team and made the match very enjoyable affair to watch. In between the German attacks, Zvonimir Boban missed an easy chance in the 55th minute. Finally in the 80th minute, Boban advanced down the field and passed the ball towards Goran Vlaovic towards the right side corner of the penalty area. Vlaovic took a similar curling shot from the edge of the area as that of Jarni during the first goal. This time Jurgen Kohler blocked Koepke’s view partially, and the ball went past him into the goal. The fate of the match was all but decided, as the dejected Germans did not have the firepower to score two goals within 10 minutes. Suker completed the rout with a strike from close range inside the box in the 85th minute. Kohler and Heinrich again failed to close down Suker, giving him ample time and space to shoot.

After winning it in 1990, this was the second time in a row that Germany were knocked out in the quarter-final of a World Cup. Croatia went on to secure third place in the World Cup, and the victory over Germans served as a sweet revenge of the loss in EURO 96. It was a performance of immense national pride for the Croats who were ranked a lowly 125 just three years back when they were inducted in FIFA.

Match: Austria vs. West Germany
Round: 2nd Round (round before final)
Venue Date: Chateau Carreras, Córdoba, Argentina, 21st June, 1978


The format for 1978 World Cup had two groups of 4 teams in the round before final, and it did not have any official semi-final just like 1974 edition. West Germany and Austria were grouped with Netherlands and Italy in Group 1 of the second round. Austria was thrashed by Netherlands 1-5, and was defeated by Italy 0-1, while Germans drew both their matches with Italy (0-0) and Netherlands (2-2). So going into the last round of matches with both Netherlands and Italy at the top of the table on 3 points, Germany (2 points) not only needed to beat Austria by a clear five-goal margin, but also had to pray for a draw between the table toppers, to qualify for the final.

Unlike the last round of matches in Group 2 which started at different times and created controversy (to be covered in one of our later segments), the last two matches in Group 1 started simultaneously at 13:45 PM, and hence none of the teams could play with the knowledge of what happened in other match. Though Austria was out of the competition, due to the socio-political bitter-sweetness between the two countries, Austria vs. West Germany was always going to be a tense affair.

In front of around 41,000 crowd, the Mannschaft started the match confidently and opened the scoring in the 19th minute, when Karl-Heinz Rummenigge finished a fine move of a series of one-two wall passes with Dieter Müller. The score line was 1-0 at halftime with Germans in control of the proceedings.

Disaster struck in the 59th minute of the match as German skipper Berti Vogts put the ball into his own net while trying to clear a Eduard Krieger cross from the right side. Hans Krankl then put the Ösis ahead in the 66th minute, receiving a cross again from Krieger, this time from the left side of the penalty area. Krankl’s stunning left footed volley from about 10 yards left no chance for German keeper Sepp Maier.

Germany was trailing and needed to win – and win big to bolster their goal differences –to have any chance of qualification on goal difference. Austrians had nothing to lose and they kept on attacking the German goal, with the German midfield looked disjointed. Hansi Muller, Rainer Bonhoff did not manage the possession well, and gave away the ball frequently to the Austrians. West Germany equalised somewhat against the run of play via Bernd Hölzenbein in the 72nd minute. Rüdiger Abramczik was fouled by Josef Hickersberger about 10-15 yards outside the box towards the right side of the touchline. Rainer Bonhoff took the free-kick and his cross was headed in by Holzenbein to make it 2-2.

Germans kept on pressing for the winner though they needed five goals to qualify in less than 20 minutes. With two minutes left in the match, Austrian captain Robert Sara cleared a ball from the midfield towards the left wing where German center-half Rolf Rüessmann missed the flight of the cross. Krankl was right behind Ruessmann, and received the ball. He continued his diagonal run inside the penalty area, dribbling past two German defenders before slotting it past on rushing Sepp Maier. Krankl charged off on a wild celebration that was outdone only by the maniacal radio commentator Eduard “Edi” Finger:
“Tooor, Tooor, Tooor, Tooor, Tooor, Tooor! I wer’ narrisch!”

It was a great goal and put Austria 3-2 ahead in the match. Rüdiger Abramczik had a chance to restore some pride for the Germans in the dying moments of the match, but his shot from close range went wide of the post.

Austria defeated West Germany 3-2, and thus ended any hope of their qualification to the final of the World Cup. It was a miraculous victory for Austria – the first time in 47 years – whereas West German players disappointed their supporters who flocked into Argentina in a great numbers hoping for a repeat trip to the cup final. This famous victory of Austria over West Germany is hailed in footballing history as the “miracle of Córdoba”.

Match: England vs Argentina
Stage: Round of 16
Venue & Date: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne, France, 30th June, 1998


Argentina entered the World Cup 1998 eager to erase the dreadful campaign four years back. Coach Daniel Passarella had assembled a strong team with the likes of Juán Sebastián Verón, Ariel Ortega, Roberto Ayala, Diego Simeone, Javier Zanetti, Gabriel Batistuta and Hernán Crespo. They comfortably won all their matches in an easy group without even conceding any goal.

On the other hand, England squad had the right balance of young and the experienced ones, and their manager Glenn Hoddle had been a role model for generations as a player. England had won the Tournoi de France – a friendly tournament held as the curtain raiser for the World Cup having the likes of Brazil, France and Italy – in 1997, and after finishing strongly in Euro 1996 held at home, the expectations were to go all the way in France ‘98. So things were looking really good for the Three Lions.

England though had stop-start campaign in the group stage. Their wins against Tunisia and Colombia were interrupted by a loss to Romania. This meant that England could not top the group and would have to face Argentina in the next round.

England began the match brightly, but conceded an early goal. Escaping his marker, Simeone ran towards goal and was brought down by an advancing David Seaman inside the box. Danish Referee Kim Milton Nielsen pointed to the spot, and Batistuta made no mistake from 12 yards.

England responded well and found themselves level just four minutes later. 18 year old Michael Owen had made his league debut for Liverpool just over a year earlier and topped the scoring charts. Owen had been a record goal scorer for England at various age levels and only months back had become the youngest ever scorer for senior England side. He was threatening to outpace Ayala en route to goal and was brought down inside the box by the Argentina captain. Owen’s senior strike partner Alan Shearer stepped up to fire the Three Lions level.

Then came the moment of glory for the young Owen. In the 16th minute, David Beckham lofted a superb pass from his own half which met the run of Owen. Owen started running at the Argentina back four, and the defenders having already given away a penalty by bringing him down earlier, started backpedaling. After shrugging off the attentions of Jose Chamot, he avoided the challenge of Ayala. Scholes was just coming round the corner and shouted “leave it” for him to strike, but Owen trusted his striker’s instincts and fired a precise drive into the far corner of Carlos Roa’s goal to give 2-1 lead to England.

Years later, when asked if he’d change anything from that position, he said he might have chipped the shot more than strike the ball through which he did then. Nevertheless, it is considered as the goal of the tournament and one that is etched permanently in the illustrious history of World Cup. Later, in a poll, it would later honored to be the second best goal ever in the World Cup.

What happened next was very painful for England. After conceding in the injury time at the end of the first half through a Zanetti’s strike, England was pegged back even more two minutes after the break. Tackled from behind by Simeone, Beckham fell forward and, as he lay on the turf, flicked out a boot at his adversary in full view of the referee. Simeone was booked, Beckham red carded – England had their back to the wall for the remainder of the match.

England though hung on forcing the match to the penalty shoot out. Beckham was once again missed dearly as England missed two spot kicks. Like in World Cup 1990 and EURO two years ago, England again bowed out of the tournament from a penalty shoot out.

Match: Argentina vs Belgium
Venue & Date: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, 25th June, 1986
Stage: Semi-final

Soccer - World Cup Mexico 1986 - Semi Final - Argentina v Belgium - Azteca Stadium

1986 was perhaps one of the most controversial World Cups of the last century since the second world war. Hosting responsibilities were shifted from Colombia to Mexico – as the former pulled out due to financial reasons – as late as May, 1983, virtually at the last moment. Hence people started questioning if the global tournament would live up to its expectations. 28 years have passed, and still football fans all around the globe cannot seem to move on from that World Cup 1986 in Mexico. Considered to be the best World Cup till date, with attacking football and goals galore, this gala event would also famously be remembered for presenting the world with a magician called Diego Armando Maradona.

Argentina, having on the World Cup in 1978, were looking for inspiration from one man. Maradona was excluded from the title winning 1978 world Cup squad as he was considered too young to be unleashed at the world stage. Eight years from then, being the captain of his national team, he was going at full throttle. Media would accuse him of being a “cheat”, and also call him a “genius”. He showed both sides of his trait in the quarter-final against England – soon coming in our future instalments.

Only three days after the magical match, Maradona put up another display of a lifetime. It was the semi-final match against Belgium. While Argentina had established themselves as one of the favourites to clinch the title, Belgium had struggled their way till the last four – they could not beat any team other than the lowly Iraq in the entire tournament. Naturally, the Latin Americans started as favourites and were expected to win easily.

But the match wandered about mediocrity and went on the second half when Maradona thought enough was enough. In the 52nd minute, he scored what can only be described as a “ghost goal” for the first one. Drifting away from his marker, he timed a diagonal run perfectly to the right to latch on to a beautiful Jorge Burruchaga through ball inside the box. Then he effortlessly flung the ball with the outside of his left foot over Belgian custodian Jean Marie Pfaff to the far corner for the opening goal.

Argentina was bossing the game and strolling to the World Cup final, Maradona could have been forgiven for taking it easy and resting up for the big challenge ahead. But that was seemingly not enough for him. Or for his majestic left foot! So merely 11 minutes later, Maradona started his magic and thus canvassed the moment of the match. He picked the ball up some 30 yards from goal and set about enthralling his opponents, ducked inside one, dodged outside a second, and skipped past a third before evading a final defender to dispatch it wide of the on-rushing keeper to the far corner from a narrow angle with his favourite left foot. It was a goal that would be replayed over and over again, and is still seen with awe and admiration. It had everything – shimming through a cluster of defenders, riding tackles and finishing under pressure from an acute angle.

Argentina had qualified for their third World Cup final and and Maradona had increased his goal tally to five for the tournament. He would not add to that in the final and would miss out on the Golden Boot by a single goal. But by then, Maradona had ensured that Argentina clinches the title and he is unanimously declared the player of the tournament.

Match: All matches of France
Round: Group stage
Venue: Capetown, Polokwane & Bloemfontein, South Africa, 11th – 22nd June, 2010


France was the runners up in 2006 World Cup. In the 2010 edition, though they were to miss Zinedine Zidane, Franck Ribery had already emerged as the new French star. However, France was going through a tough transition period as they were eliminated from the group stages of Euro 2008. France’s qualification for the World Cup was also full of controversy. They had to rely on Thierry Henry’s clear handball “assist” to win their last match against Ireland. Several players were alleged to be spotted in a Paris nightclub renowned for paedophiles just days before the World Cup. Things had fallen apart so much between the French Football Federation (FFF) and head coach Raymond Domenech that his departure at the end of the tournament was announced even before the tournament began.

France arrived in South Africa bolstering a squad with stars like Ribery, Patrice Evra, Jeremy Toulalan, Eric Abidal, William Gallas, and Yoann Gourcuff. An ageing Thierry Henry, Florent Malouda also travelled with the team along with Nicolas Anelka. Placed in group A with Uruguay, Mexico and host South Africa – interestingly the same three teams were placed along with the host nation (England) in 1966 too – France was clear favourites to win the group.

France drew 0-0 with Uruguay in the opening match, and displayed very predictable, rather boring football. They could not even capitalize on a numerical advantage as second half substitute Nicolas Lodeiro was sent off with nine minutes to go. The players on the field did not seem like playing as a unit. It prompted Zizou to openly criticise Domenech for lack of teamwork but the coach seemed to be quite content with the result.

More problems surfaced in France’s next match against Mexico. Nicolas Anelka was playing apparently playing out of his central forward position during the first half of the match, and did not listen to the verbal instructions from Domenech during the match. Domenech criticised Anelka heavily during half-time at dressing room, and in retaliation, the 31-year-old striker unleashed a tirade of foulmouthed attack towards him.

Anelka was substituted by Andre-Pierre Gignac at the beginning of second half. This probably angered some of the players, and France was sort of “disjointed” themselves from the game after that. Mexico opened the scoring through Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the 55th minute with none of the defenders making a serious challenge to stop Hernandez from scoring. Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored the second goal from penalty, and France lost the match 0-2. Other results in the group was not in France’s favour as going into the final round of matches, France had to beat South Africa by large margin and hope Uruguay and Mexico do not draw their match.

Dressing room bust up between coach and players are nothing new in football. It happens all the time. But the French players were surprised to see the news of half-time dressing room bust up in a leading newspaper like L’Equippe next day morning. Moreover the decision of French Football Federation (FFF) to expel Anelka from the World Cup squad without discussing the matter with them irked the players even further. All the players felt it was a clear case of “non-protection” of the squad from the federation. Captain Evra felt there was “traitor” in the dressing room who leaked the incident to the media.

When the French team turned up at the training ground at Knysna base on 19th June, a heated altercation took place between fitness coach Robert Duverne and Evra, and soon after the argument, all the players left the training field and boarded the team bus towards the team hotel. Domenech returned in front of the assembled media after a while, reading out a statement by the players. The statement showcased their frustration for the turn of events, refused to continue with the training session, but vowed to collectively and individually protect France’s honour at South Africa.

The players did not support what Anelka had said. But they tried to arrange a meeting with the coach, which never took place, as the decision had already been taken. The players refused to train on 19th June, though they did meet the fans who travelled a long way to show support towards the French national team.

Domenech mentioned that he had no other choice to expel Anelka as the players should not have behaved in the way he behaved. He also left room for Anelka to apologise but the player was in no mood to do so. France team director Jean-Louis Valentin resigned from the post as he felt disgusted with the squad and federation. Domenech was replaced by 1998 World cup winner Laurent Blanc after the World Cup. France, like 2002, was out of the World Cup from group stage, managing to score only a single goal, in their last group match against the host south Africa which they lost by 1-2 . The players returned home in economy class. The 2010 bust up will always remain as a permanent dark mark in the history of Les Blues.

Match: Brazil vs. Turkey
Round: Group stage
Venue & Date: Ulsan, Munsu Football Stadium, South Korea, 3rd June, 2002


Brazil faced Turkey in the opening match of Group C in the 2002 World Cup. Turkey had a decent squad which was an even mix of home-based players and players playing in various clubs of Europe. Brazil was a star studded affair, with players like Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Gilberto Silva, Roberto Carlos, and Cafu in their ranks.

Brazil started the match brilliantly, and Ronaldinho almost scored on seventh minute with a clever chip from 25 yards. Turkey responded well and Tugay’s deflected shot hit the crossbar on 19th minute. Juninho and Rivaldo also tested Turkish keeper Rustu Receber, and Turkey was just hanging on in front of flurry of Brazilian attacks. Yet Turkey took the lead in the added injury time of the first half, with Hasan Sas scoring with a left footed volley from close range, connecting a rather unthreatening cross from the midfield by Yildiray Basturk.

Brazil continued their attacking mode in the second half as well, and got the equaliser in the 50th minute. Ronaldo connected a cross inside the penalty area from Rivaldo, and tapped the ball past Rustu Receber with three Turkish defender following Ronaldo. Brazil continued their attack after the equaliser as well, as Ronaldo, Rivaldo both came close to scoring. Luizao replaced Ronaldo on 73rd minute, a move which was not approved by the fans present in the stadium, as it appeared that Brazil would like to settle for a draw.

The match took dramatic turn in 85th minute, when Alpay Özalan committed a foul on Luizao just outside the Turkish penalty area. Referee Kim Young Yoo without hesitation showed red card to Alpay, but made a mistake awarding the penalty to Brazil. Rivaldo converted the penalty to make it 2-1 in favour of Brazil. Turkish players felt they were hard done by the referee, and protested.

There was still some room for more drama in the match. Hakan Unsal was already on a yellow card for a foul he committed on Ronaldinho in the first half. Turkish players were already boiling with anger due to the wrong decision by Referee. Brazil was awarded a corner. Rivaldo was standing near the right corner flag. Hakan Unsal thumped the ball towards Rivaldo with anger and disgust, and the ball hit Rivaldo in the chest. Rivaldo fell down, in rather dramatic fashion, covering his face with his two palms. The theatrical nature of Rivaldo’s fall prompted referee Kim Young Yoo to flash the red card for the second time in the match, this time to Hakan Unsal. The match finished with Brazil winning the match 2-1, and Turkey felt there was injustice in the manner Brazil had won. The dramatic fashion of Rivaldo’s fall with both hands in his face became symbolic picture of play-acting all over the football world.

Match: France vs. Kuwait
Round: Group stage
Venue & Date: Nuevo Estadio Jose Zorrilla, Valladolid, Spain, 21st June, 1982


France faced Kuwait in their second group match of World Cup 1982. Earlier in the same group, England defeated France 3-1 in the opening match while debutant Kuwait surprised everyone with a 1-1 draw against Czechoslovakia. So going into this match, Kuwait was ahead of France and had a chance to continue their dream run.

France did not allow anymore upset though, as Bernard Genghini and Michel Platini put France 2-0 up before half-time. Kuwait could not match the attacking style of France, and they were mere spectators for most of the half. France increased the lead to 3-0 right after the break through Didier Six and the result of the match was all but evident. Kuwait did reduce the margin to 1-3 in the 75th minute via an Abdulaziz Al Balushi goal.

The match was in its 82nd minute when the World Cup moment arrived in this rather timid match. France was attacking towards Kuwait goal and Alain Giresse received a pass from Platini near Kuwait penalty area. He continued his run towards the penalty area, but some of the Kuwaiti players suddenly stopped chasing him. They had mistaken a piercing whistle from the stand as one from the Russian referee Miroslav Stupar. Giresse was, however, under no such illusion. He continued his run, and blasted the ball from within the penalty box inside Kuwaiti goal almost unchallenged. The French players were celebrating the goal, and Kuwaiti players went to the referee to complain that they stopped play as they had heard a whistle.

Initially the referee started to wave off the matter, but Kuwaiti players kept on protesting. The Kuwaiti coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and French coach Michel Hidalgo joined the discussions in the sideline. Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, (then-president of the Kuwait Football Association) was watching the match from the stands. He stood up from his seat in and started waving towards the players to come off the pitch to which they obliged. Complete chaos broke off as Sheikh came down from the stands and stormed inside the field. Some policemen surrounded the Sheikh quickly, and one member from the organising committee tried to persuade the Sheikh to allow his players to continue the game. The Sheikh was adamant about the issue, and started clapping sarcastically in front of the player tunnel. Sheikh was escorted by the policeman before further altercation could take place. In the mean time, a small scuffle broke loose inside the ground between the French and Kuwaiti players, as referee Stupar tried to separate them and start the match. Hidalgo also had to be calmed down by policemen beside the pitch.

After six-seven minutes of drama, heated exchanges, sarcastic claps and misunderstandings, the match finally resumed with referee disallowing the French goal. France eventually scored in the 89th minute via Maxim Bossis to restore the lead to 4-1. Kuwait bowed out of the World Cup in the group stage, but their only appearance in the World Cup till date indeed left quite a “mark”.

Match: England vs Portugal
Round: Semi-final
Venue & Date: Wembley Stadium, London, England, 26th July, 1966


This instalment is about Eusebio, a complete attacker. He had speed, trickery, strength and very importantly, he was not too dependent of supply lines from midfield to be successful as he often came deep to orchestrate the attacking moves. Playing for a famous Benfica side in the early 1960s he was simply unstoppable as he scored 319 times in 313 appearances, won 10 Portuguese league championships, 5 domestic cup titles, was six times top scorer in the Portuguese league and twice Golden Boot winner as top scorer in European football – 1968 and 1973. 1966 World Cup could not have come at a better time for him – he was just honoured as the European Player of the Year (Golden Ball winner) in 1965.
1966 World Cup Semi-final saw host England facing an all conquering Portuguese side and this was hyped as the match of the tournament. Portugal had already made quite an impact in their maiden appearance in the finals. They had scored at least three goals in every match thus far. En route to the semi final they had sent the two time defending champions Brazil back home and had made the most remarkable comeback to win 5-3 against North Korea after being three goals down within first 25 minutes – follower of this series must be well aware of this epic by now. Eusebio was in red hot form netting seven already and looked far from finished. England, buoyed by their home support, was also in ominous form and were yet to concede any goal in the tournament. So it was going to be a thrilling encounter between two diverse genres, attacking Portugal vs a compact England side.
There was huge controversy regarding the venue of the match. Initially the match was scheduled to be hosted at the Goodison Park, where Portugal had already acclimatized having played couple of matches but England had not played any thus far. But the match was shifted at the last moment – literally, a day before the match – to the much bigger Wembley Stadium citing its larger capacity would make more sense financially. This change of venue definitely suited the home team as they had played all of their matches in the same turf. Portugal, on the other hand, had to make a last minute train trip from Liverpool to far south in London which sapped away their energy.

England started the match quite well and played like champions against a visibly tired Portuguese side. Boby Charlton scored a brace in the 30th and 79th minute. English midfielder Nobby Stiles had the game of his life as he marked Eusebio throughout the match giving him very little space to weave his magic spells. Eusebio, however, scored a late consolation goal from a penalty in the 82nd minute but that was not enough.
England won the match 2-1. Portugal was heartbroken and so was their Black Pearl. He had already experienced two European Cup final defeats. And in spite of being the best player and being in the best team in the tournament, this World Cup had also eluded him. At the end of the match, Eusebio dragged himself out of the pitch, “famously” wiping of tears with his jersey, while being consoled by players from both the teams. This incident placed the game permanently in the Portuguese folklore as the Jogo das Lagrimas (Game of Tears).

Eusebio scored one more in the third place match against Soviet Union to finish the tournament as the top scorer with 9 goals, the Golden Boot and an unquestionable place in the tournament All-Star team. His four conversions from the spot remains a World Cup record till date. His dazzling display prompted the Madam Tussauds to have his wax statue in their collection soon after the tournament was over. Years have gone by, but Eusebio’s crying moment remains etched in the memory of football lovers. His pain is best described in his own words: “I was the best player in the world, top scorer in the world and Europe. I did everything, except win a World Cup.”

The Legend of Ruth Malosso

He was not only a great inspiration but also an important figure in upholding the values, principles and feelings of football, even after finishing his career,” says Chelsea manager, José Mourinho. Srinwantu Dey tries to pay a humble tribute to the immortal ‘O Rei’, a wonderful soul and modest ambassador for both Portuguese football and Benfica. An extended version of this article has been published in ‘Tiro: A football odyssey from Amazon to Alps’ , Rattis Books, UK, June 2016.

In one of football’s most recognizable traditions, live bald eagles swoop around the 65,000 odd crowd before every game at one of Portugal’s “Big Three” as mascots – Vitória and Glória (Victory and Glory). It’s a sad day for football lovers as Portugal and Benfica legend Eusébio leaves for his heavenly abode, leaving millions in grief, following a heart attack earlier today. His legacy can never fade into oblivion as long as ‘Victory’ and ‘Glory’ keep entertaining us – symbols befittingly synonymous to The Black Pearl.  Penning a tribute piece on this legend is a Herculean task I believe, as his stature, statistics and accolades are far too astonishing to translate into words. Let us instead look through a few incidents from the early years of his career, which announced to the world in the 60’s – a legend has arrived to rule Europe!

The victory and glory of Eusébio will always be remembered
The victory and glory of Eusébio will always be remembered

The Myth of Ruth Malosso

Eusébio was born to a poverty-stricken family in Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique). Football was more than a game to him and he was often found playing on the streets instead of attending school. As a result, he was the only member of his family who couldn’t finish schooling. He was an amazing talent since his childhood and no wonder he caught the eyes of several talent scouts. The scenario at Mozambique was very different back then – it was a Portuguese colony and there was no professional setup for playing football. The better clubs were actually feeder clubs of famous football clubs of Portugal. Eusébio was picked up by a local club – Sporting Clube de Lourenço Marques which had a tie-up with the very famous Sporting Clube de Portugal, Lisbon.

Being a subsidiary of big clubs of Portugal, often they used to get a chance to play against big guns of Portugal and other top clubs during their African tours. Such a tour of ‘Clube de Futebol Os Belenenses’ (current Portuguese Cup winners, 1960) discovered a young 17-year old boy who scored two goals against them with blistering pace. Former Brazilian international, José Carlos Bauer was the first person to notice his immense ability who was travelling to Mozambique at the same time with his São Paulo based club Ferroviária de Araraquara. Surprised by his skill level, Bauer immediately referred him to São Paulo, but the Brazilian club denied the chance to take risks for an unknown African footballer. There is a myth that after returning to his home town, Bauer went to a hair-cutting salon where he came across his old acquaintance Béla Guttmann. Guttmann, a Jewish-Hungarian, who was a former manager of São Paulo – was managing S.L. Benfica at the time. During a friendly conversation, Bauer mentioned to him about this young talent of Southeast Africa.

Eusébio with manager Béla Guttmann
Eusébio with manager Béla Guttmann


Guttmann was known to be a gold digger. He had just sacked 20 senior players after taking charge of Benfica and was looking for fresh faces. He enquired about Eusébio and came to know about his fascinating skills. He also learnt that Eusébio is currently playing for their biggest rival’s feeder club. At the same time, slow movements had started at other side of Lisbon when Eusébio’s childhood friend Hilário da Conceição – who already was an established defender of Sporting Lisbon – had recommended him to his club. Guttmann didn’t take any chances as he knew it was easier for Sporting to capture this raw talent as he was playing for their subsidiary club. This being a highly sensitive issue, the Benfica board decided that they will never use Eusébio’s name in any communication before the deal finalizes, and thus given a code name – Ruth Malosso. Guttmann went straight to Eusébio’s family home and convinced both him and his mother for this move and got him to sign a contract. He was brought to Portugal secretly after that in December 1960, and sent to the outskirts of Lisbon to prevent any kidnapping. After a long running tug-of-war between two rival clubs, it was agreed upon that Eusébio will be playing for Benfica and he was registered in May, 1961.

After seeing Eusébio train for the first time at the Estadio da Luz, Guttmann shouted to his assistant Fernando Caiado, “It is gold. It is gold”.  José Aguas, Benfica’s #9 and captain, promptly suggested “If it has to be me then so be it, but somebody has to drop out for him to play.” And the rest was history.


‘Eusébio 3-2 Pelé’

Just after Eusébio started displaying his charisma in Portugal, Benfica were invited to play in the Tornio International de Paris in 1961 and in the final they played against an exceptional Santos side, led by the ‘best in planet’ footballer Pelé. Within an hour, Benfica found themselves trailing by an insulting 5-0 scoreline, where Pelé struck twice. Guttman had to unleash his last weapon, codename Malosso, from the reserve. He was not mistaken. The 18-year old substitute scored a rapid hat-trick within 63rd to 80th minute of the match. He also won a penalty, which his teammate failed to converted. Guttmann’s young team eventually lost the tie 6-3 to a star-studded Santos team, but the young prodigy won everybody’s heart on that day. Next day, prestigious French magazine L’Équipe made a headline neglecting the main scoreline and Santos’ victory which read as ‘Eusébio 3-2 Pelé’. Later, Pelé stated about Eusébio – “He scored beautiful goals. All of the Santos players, including myself, thought Eusébio was a great player even if none of us knew who he was at that time.” After this encounter, they met quite a few times, but this game truly announced that another black pearl has come to rule the world.

Eusébio consoling Pelé during the 1966 World Cup
Eusébio consoling Pelé during the 1966 World Cup


Taking on the Galácticos

A crowd of over 60,000 gathered in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium hoping to witness a clash of the titans at 1962 European Cup final between Real Madrid and Benfica. This was a game where Real was trying to re-establish their dominance on European kingdom, and reigning champions Benfica were establishing themselves as an unstoppable force in the Europian mainland. Eusébio was there too. But he was more mesmerized to play against his childhood hero – Alfredo Di Stéfano. The classic final started and soon Di Stéfano took over control of the midfield playing from the deep, while razor-sharp Ferenc Puskás kept threatening the Benfica defence continuously.  Within 25 minutes, the Hungarian wizard put Madrid upfront with a two-goal lead. Though Benfica equalized the score, but again before half time, Puskás completed his hat-trick and gave Madrid back the lead. In the second half, Guttmann was able to shut down Madrid’s mastermind Di Stéfano’s elegance and that is when the ‘Black Panther’ took over control of the stage. Once Mário Coluna made it 3-3, Eusébio scored two goals within 5 minutes, and eventually, Benfica was the winner with a thumping 5-3 scoreline. But Eusébio didn’t forget his dream, he collected the shirt of the Argentine genius and kept it hidden underneath his shorts so that nobody can steal it from him – it was pretty precious to him. The scene was symbolic, as it depicted the passing of legacy from one legend to another. Eusébio definitely didn’t disappoint Di Stéfano!

Eusébio after winning 1962 European Cup
Eusébio after winning 1962 European Cup


The Legacy

In his decorated career, he kept scoring goals and making history for Benfica and Portugal. Numbers do the talking for him. One may browse the digital media to find countless lists of his achievements. For me he was a legend true to his own style – a perfect striker with blistering speed, silky skills and enormous power! Guttmann aptly described his shots like watching Sputnik launch into space!

His arrival in Europe was definitely not the first among Africans. Even before him, Maghrebi star player Larbi Ben Barek or Sebastião Lucas de Fonseca of Maputo – who was known as the eighth wonder of theworld among Portuguese – already pioneered that Africans also can contribute to European football.  But Eusébio was definitely the first imported African who ruled the European football demography for more than a decade. The floodgate was opened by him, leading to European powerhouses starting thorough scouting in their colonized provinces. He couldn’t play for his own country Mozambique. Mozambique football association wasn’t established until 1976, after they earned their sovereignty the preceding year. From early 60’s, Portugal regime was involved in turmoil, insurgencies and other political pressure. Rather his inclusion and glorious performance for the Portuguese national team helped the regime to highlight the unity of the metropole and the colonies, leading to racial harmony.  His nickname given as ‘O Rei’ (The King) had massive significance in a regime of fascist dictators.

New Picture
Weeping Eusebio after ‘Jogo das Lágrimas’ – ‘the game of tears’

Being a thorough gentleman and great ambassador of the game, Eusébio won the hearts of all his compatriots and opponents. During the ‘Game of Tears’ where Portugal lost to England 2-1 at Wembley and were knocked out of the 1966 World Cup, Eusébio was found to break down in tears and comforted to the dressing room by both team-mates and opponents. Truly, the greatest victory ever for Benfica over Sporting Lisbon has been nothing but winning Eusébio from them.

Rest in peace, Panther.

The Triumph of ‘The Wingless Wonders’

The World Cup was coming to the land of the founders of the game. Kinshuk Biswas recounts how the revolutionary tactics of England coach Sir Alf Ramsey and a controversial decision by the officials shaped the tournament

Host Selection and Contenders

It had been decided as early as August 1960 that the eighth World Cup tournament would be held in England. West Germany and Spain were also interested to host the tournament. However, with the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) being headed by the Englishman Arthur Drewry, it was not a surprise that England was chosen as the host ahead of the others. The hosts had a new manager in Alf Ramsey who persuaded the Football Association to get rid of the selection committee system for team selection, which had hindered his predecessor Walter Winterbottom. Ramsey had boldly predicted to the press that his team would most certainly win the World Cup – a statement which had provided sustenance to the critics in the English media of the 60s.  Brazil was back but their side was ageing with a lot of reliance on Pele. West Germany had good players in Franz Beckenbauer, Uwe Seeler, Wolfgang Overath and Karl-Heinz Schnellinger. European champions Spain had Luis Suarez the playmaker of Inter Milan, Francisco Gento, Manuel Sanchiz Sr. and Pirri, all of whom were very good players. The Soviets were strong with the great Lev Yashin in goal, the diminutive Igor Chislenko, Albert Shestrenyev and Murtaz Khurtsilova. England was a work in progress under the new tactics adopted by Ramsey. In the build-up to the tournament they had been unimpressive losing to Austria 3-2, drawing 0-0 with Wales and narrowly defeating Northern Ireland 2-1. The defence was settled with Bobby Moore – now the captain, Ray Wilson, George Cohen and Jack Charlton. Jack’s brother, Bobby Charlton was used as a midfield playmaker, a role he was still getting used to. Jimmy Greaves was the first choice forward who had just recovered from a severe bout of Hepatitis. On 8th December 1965, at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, Ramsey put out a team without any wingers against the European champions. The observers were astonished by this team and even more surprised when England dominated the match winning 2-0. Ramsey had dropped wingers who then had very little defensive skills and substituted them by attacking midfielders. The opposition full-backs expecting wingers were caught out by the English attacks through the centre. It seemed that Ramsey’s tactics were working.

Qualifications and Finals Draw

The qualifications attracted 70 nations. Finally FIFA decided on ten European teams, four South American teams including Brazil, the defending champions, one North and Central American team and one from Asia, Oceania and Africa combined, to be decided by a two-legged play-off.  The African nations boycotted as they wanted a permanent spot in the finals instead of a play-off match against Asia or Oceania. Amongst the European teams, France had qualified ahead of the strong Yugoslavian team and Portugal was making their tournament debut by finishing ahead of Czechoslovakia, the runner up of the last edition. There were no surprises in South America or North and Central American qualifiers. North Korea made it by defeating Australia in both matches home and away, becoming only the third team from Asia to reach the World Cup finals. In the build-up to the tournament, the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen from an exhibition at the Westminster Central Hall. The unlikely hero who retrieved the trophy after seven days was ‘Pickles’, a dog at a south London park, below a garden hedge and wrapped in a newspaper. Pickles became an instant celebrity and even went on to star in a 1966 film.

Pickles in the media spotlight

The draw for the final tournament was held at Royal Garden Hotel in London, on 6th January 1966. The draw was televised for the first time reflecting the popularity and importance of the tournament.  England, West Germany, Brazil and Italy were seeded. The final groups after the draw were:

Group 1                       Group 2                         Group 3              Group 4

England                       West Germany              Brazil                   Italy

Uruguay                      Spain                             Hungary              Soviet Union

France                         Argentina                      Portugal              Chile

Mexico                        Switzerland                    Bulgaria              North Korea

Group 1

The opening match featured the hosts against Uruguay. It was a dour encounter with very little opportunities created and a lot of rough play from both sides. Ondino Viera, the Uruguayan manager, had deployed his most creative players Pedro Rocha and Julio Cesar Cortes in withdrawn positions, blunting the English attacking players. Ramsey had drafted Nobby Stiles as the midfield enforcer of his team who was no less physical than his opponents. The best chance was a John Connelly header which bounced off the top of the Uruguayan bar. The emphatic build up of the English had hit the road-block of reality with this 0-0 draw. The Uruguayan manager had selected his own son Milton Viera – a feat later repeated by three other managers: Cesare Maldini for Italy in 1998, Zlatko Kranjcar for Croatia in 2006 and Bob Bradley for USA in 2010. The Wembley Stadium was officially named the Empire stadium as a reminder of the good old days of British Imperialism.  The other match was a 1-1 draw between France and Mexico. Enrique Borja scored for the Mexicans in the 48th minute and Gerard Hausser equalised in the 61st minute.  In the second round of matches, Uruguay defeated France 2-1 with goals from Rocha and Cortes. England beat Mexico 2-0 with the first goal, one of the famous long range shots of Bobby Charlton in the 36th minute. Roger Hunt scored the second in the 76th minute, when the goalkeeper could only parry a Jimmy Greaves shot straight to him. The English were still looking unimpressive against the packed defences. In the last round of matches, Uruguay and Mexico played out a 0-0 draw. The only highlight was Antonio Carbajal, the Mexican goalkeeper who was playing in his fifth edition of the tournament – a record later equalled by Lothar Mattheus in 1998. In the last match, England beat France 2-0. The goals were scored in the 36th and 76th minutes and were identical to those scored by Hunt against Mexico.  The first was scored after the goalkeeper spilled a cross and the second after a Jack Charlton header rebounded off the post to his feet.  England thus topped the group followed by Uruguay.

Group 2

In the first round of matches, West Germany showed their class with a 5-0 demolition of Switzerland. Two goals each were scored by Beckenbauer and Helmut Haller and the other by Siegfried Held. It was an awesome display of precision passing and finishing. Argentina defeated Spain 2-1 with a brace from Luis Artime. The Spanish goal was scored by Pirri. The Argentines ruthlessly tackled Luis Suarez, the main playmaker of Spain early in the match to take control. The second round of the matches started with a 2-1 Spanish win over the Swiss. Pierre Quentin had put the Swiss ahead in the 31st minute but the Spanish equalised in the 57th minute through a great individual goal by Sanchiz who beat three defenders before shooting into the roof of the net. The winner was a diving header scored by Amancio off a Gento cross from the left. The other match was between West Germany and Argentina. It was as if an immovable object was meeting an irresistible force, although it was difficult to decide which team was what. The match finished 0-0 but it was littered fouls from both sides. Many of the tackles would be sure shot red cards nowadays. Eventually Rafael Albrecht of Argentina was sent off for kicking Wolfgang Weber in his groin (a polite way of writing family jewels by the press). The Argentines were warned by FIFA for their rough play although the West Germans hadn’t quite been the angels. Going into the last round of matches, all the teams except Switzerland could qualify. The Argentina-Switzerland match was won 2-0 by the South Americans with goals in the second half from Artime and Ermindo Onega. The Spanish knew that they had to defeat the West Germans to qualify. They started well with Jose Maria Fuste giving them the lead in the 23rd minute. The West Germans had brought Lothar Emmerich, the naturally left footed Borussia Dortmund winger in their side. He scored a wonder goal from the left side of the penalty box with a shot from an impossible angle to the roof of the net in the 39th minute. The West Germans then took control of the game and eventually took the lead when Seeler scored off a cross from the left. The West Germans topped the group on goal average with the Argentines coming second with the same number of points.


Group 3

The first match featured the defending champions Brazil against Bulgaria. Pele had previously said that the preparation of his team for this tournament was shambolic. He was marked by Dobromir Zhechev who continuously kicked and tripped him. Still Pele managed to score from a free-kick in the 13th minute. This kick was hit with rage and had none of the famed Brazilian swerve and curl – just plain power. Garrincha was also fouled incessantly and he too smashed a free-kick into the top corner in the 63rd minute. The Brazilians had won 2-0 but could not score from open play. This was the last instance of Pele and Garrincha playing together- Brazil never lost a match when they did! The other match between the debutants Portugal and Hungary was full of great play from both sides punctuated with very poor goalkeeping. The Portuguese took the lead when Jose Augusto headed in a corner in the second minute. The Hungarian defence were busy marking Jose Torres and Eusebio which gave him a free header. The Hungarians then dominated the match creating chance after chance which was spurned by their forwards. Eventually they equalised through a goalkeeping error which enabled Ferenc Bene to score in the 60th minute. The Hungarian goalkeeper Antal Szentmihailyi then let go an easy cross from Torres which bounced off his chest and allowed Augusto to head in his second goal in the 65th minute.  Szentmihailyi again tried to gather a Eusebio corner to miss it completely and allow Torres to head in. The final score of 3-1 in favour of Portugal was a bit flattering. In the second round of matches Brazil played Hungary. The Brazilians had rested Pele, letting him recover from the knocks of the first match. The Hungarians played a brilliant match completely outplaying the champions. Florian Albert was brilliant in his withdrawn forward role where he orchestrated the attack. Bene scored the first goal in the third minute beating the Brazilian defender Altair from the outside, then he beat Hilderaldo Bellini by cutting inside and took a low left footer to beat the goalkeeper.  The Brazilians equalised in the 15th minute when a free kick deflected to a 19-year-old named Tostao who beat the goalkeeper with a left-footed shot. The Hungarians were dominant and scored through Janos Farkas in the 64th minute – a goal created by Albert and Bene. In the 72nd minute Bene was brought down in the penalty area and Kalman Meszoly converted the spot kick to give the Hungarians a 3-1 victory. This was the 50th and last match in the career of the great Garrincha – the only match he ever lost for Brazil. Brazil lost their first World Cup finals’ match since 1954, incidentally to the same team. In the other match, Portugal defeated Bulgaria 3-0 with a goal each from Eusebio and Torres and an own goal from the opponents. In the last round of matches, Pele was brought back but he was still injured. Joao Morais of Portugal made sure that he would play no further part by double tackles on the edge of penalty area leaving him limping for the rest of the match. Eusebio was magnificent scoring off a header in the 24th minute and from a terrific volley on the right in the 85th minute. Antonio Simoes had opened the scoring when he had headed after the goalkeeper had parried a shot-cross by Eusebio. The Brazilians pulled a goal back but were beaten 3-1 and required a huge upset win by Bulgaria over Hungary to qualify. The upset was on the cards when Georgi Aspharoukov gave the Bulgarians the lead. The equaliser, however, came through a Bulgarian own goal. The Hungarians were too strong and scored through Meszoly and Bene winning 3-1. Portugal and Hungary had thus qualified eliminating Brazil.

Eusebio - the new king of 1966
Pele - the fallen King


Group 4

The first-round matches featured the Soviets against North Koreans. The North Koreans, the representatives of Asia, Africa and Oceania, were much fitter than other Asian teams who played in the previous editions of the tournament. The problem was they were dwarfed by the Soviets who were much taller even compared to other European sides. The Soviets ran out comfortable 3-0 winners with two goals from Eduard Malafeyev and one by Anatoly Banishevsky. It was not surprising that two goals came from headers with the Koreans unable to cope with the height of their opponents. The other match was a repeat of the 1962 fighting contest between Italy and Chile. Italy was the much better side and dominated. There were great Italian players on view like Giancinto Facchetti, Tarsicio Burgnich, Gianni Rivera, Giacomo Bulgarelli and Sandro Mazzola. Mazzola scored the opening goal in the ninth minute. The Chileans defended stoutly for the rest of the match but eventually Paolo Barison scored to make the final score 2-0. In the second-round matches, Chile and North Korea played out an exciting 1-1 draw. The Koreans were nimble, extremely fit and had a lot of pace which caused the opposition problems. The Chileans tried to impose their physical strength and got the lead through disputed penalty converted by Reuben Marcos in the 27th minute. The Koreans kept on attacking and finally Park Seung-Jin scored off a fierce low volley from the edge of the box in the 88th minute. The other clash was touted to be between two of the favourites, Italy and Soviet Union. Both teams looked certain to qualify and there was a chance of a boring 0-0. It was a game where Facchetti, an attacking full-back for Inter Milan stayed back to mark the dangerous Chislenko. On the opposing side, Shesternyov had an outstanding match keeping out Mazzola and company. The match was decided when Chislenko for once managed to cut past Facchetti to score off a tremendous left footer in the 57th minute. Italy had chances but Lev Yashin was at his best. Final score was 1-0 but the Italians would surely qualify against the lowly North Koreans, wouldn’t they? The last round of matches featured possibly the greatest upset in World Cup history when North Korea played Italy. The Italian assistant coach and future manager, the great Ferrucio Valcareggi had been sent to watch the North Koreans play against the Soviets. He returned and reported that the Korean game was like watching ‘una comica di Ridolini’ (a comic Ridolini). Larry Semon aka Ridolini was an Italian equivalent of Charlie Chaplin in the 1920s. Marino Perani could have scored two goals in the first half but missed. Then in the 42nd minute the unthinkable happened – an Italian clearance was headed back towards their goal; Pak Doo-Ik let the ball run into his stride and hit a low grounder across Enrico Albertossi who could have done better. A lot of people forget that Italy played with 10 men for almost one hour as Bulgarelli had gone off with a knee injury and the Italians did not have a player for his position. Strangely, they did not use any substitute to equate the numbers. The North Koreans created two more chances and held on for a famous 1-0 victory. The match was held at Ayresome Park, the former home of Middlesbrough which was demolished to make way for a mass bungalow housing development. In the front garden of such a house lies a bronze sculpture of an imprint of a football boot which marks the spot from which Pak Doo-Ik scored his goal.

Pak Doo-Ik scores against Italy

The Soviets topped the group by defeating the Chileans 2-1 in their last match, avenging their loss to the same team in the 1962 World Cup quarter-finals and the North Koreans qualified second – the only team outside Europe or the Americas to do so till 1986 when Morocco equalled their feat.

Quarter Finals

The quarter-finals featured England against Argentina, West Germany playing Uruguay, Portugal facing North Korea and an all East European clash between the Soviet Union and Hungary. England recalled Alan Ball to add steel to the midfield. Geoff Hurst came in for the injured Jimmy Greaves.  The match was a story of dirty play from both sides. Although English media always paint the Argentines as the villains, England actually committed 33 fouls compared to 19 by Argentina. There were rumours that Stanley Rous, the FIFA president had instructed the referees to back the European teams which were propagated by the South American media. England won the match 1-0 with a goal from Hurst. The match is remembered for the sending off of Argentina captain Antonio Rattin. Alf Ramsey stopped his players from exchanging jerseys with their opponents, terming them as animals. However, the players of his team were no better.

Sir Alf Ramsey prevents the exchange of jerseys after the England-Argentina quarter-final

The second match between the West Germans and Uruguayans was another robust encounter with crunching tackles from both sides. However, the Europeans were more skillful and won 4-0 with Haller, Beckenbauer and Seeler on the score-sheet. Uruguayans were too defensive and also had two players sent off which didn’t help them. The Portugal-North Korea match was a classic. The North Koreans attacked the Portuguese defence and were leading 3-0 by the 24th minute. After that it was the Eusebio show. He scored four goals, two of which were penalties to lead his team to an incredible comeback. Although the Koreans continued attacking even after they had a three-goal lead without any thought of preserving their lead. Then Jose Augusto scored a fifth to give Portugal a 5-3 victory. The last match featured the impressive Hungarians against the strong Soviet side. In a repeat of their previous matches, the Soviets battered their opposition through their physical play. They won comfortably with goals from Chislenko and Valery Porkujan. Hungary reduced the margin through a Bene goal but found the Soviet defence and Yashin a bridge too far. The semi-finals were set with West Germany playing the Soviet Union and England playing Portugal.

Semi Finals

The first semi-final between West Germany and Soviet Union was predictably a rough encounter between two teams of extreme fitness and great physical attributes. Schnellinger crunched into Chislenko leaving him limping for the rest of the match. To add insult to injury, Chislenko was sent off for an innocuous challenge on Haller. Haller put the West Germans ahead, running on to a cross from Schnellinger from the left in the 43rd minute. Beckenbauer doubled the lead with a left footer from the edge of the box with Yashin unsighted in the 68th minute. Porkujan reduced the margin with a late goal but the West Germans played keep-ball and made it to the final. In the other semi-final, England attacked the Portugal defence which was made up of players from four different clubs. The forward line, all from Benfica, was the strength of the Iberians but the defence was clearly the Achilles heel. Two goals from Bobby Charlton sealed victory for the hosts – the first in the 30th minute with a side foot shot and the second in the 79th minute with a right-footed shot from the right edge of the penalty box. Eusebio reduced the margin by converting a penalty when Jack Charlton handled the ball after Banks missed a cross from the right. England was one match away from fulfilling Ramsey’s prediction of winning the tournament and West Germany considered the old enemy to be in their way. The third place match was won by Portugal who defeated the Soviet Union 2-1 with a penalty conversion from Eusebio, making him the top scorer in the tournament with nine goals.


There was a lot of media speculation about Greaves coming back but Ramsey stuck with Hurst and Hunt. Beckenbauer was made to mark Bobby Charlton. The West German coach, Helmut Schon may have made a tactical error by making his best ball player into a marker. He could have brought in Klaus-Dieter Sieloff from the bench who was a natural marker in place of Emmerich who had done nothing of note after his wonder goal against Spain in the group stages. To be fair, Emmerich was a known match-winner for his club Borussia Dortmund with great performances en route to the European Cup Winners title earlier that year. On 30th July, a Saturday, 93,802 people gathered at the Wembley Stadium to watch the final. This was the largest crowd for a World Cup match excluding the Maracana stadium in Rio and the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The Queen of Britain was amongst the spectators and she keenly wanted to award the trophy to her team.

Tofik Bakhramov-Linesman(L), Uwe Seeler, Gottfried Dienst-Referee(C), Bobby Moore and Dr Karol Galba-Linesman(R)

England played with a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Bobby Charlton as the central attacking midfielder and Nobby Stiles as the central defensive midfielder. West Germany used 4-2-4 system with Beckenbauer and Overath in the midfield. Seeler and Held were the two strikers and Haller and Emmerich the wingers.

The pitch was greasy from overnight rain and the West Germans started brighter with their passing and the English looked a bit overawed by the occasion. In the 13th minute, Held received the ball on the left and hit a long cross towards the English far post. Banks was shouting at Ray Wilson to let it go. But Wilson thought it was a warning and jumped early for the header only to knock it too near the goal. Haller, the West German left winger had come inside and moved back to collect it and hit a tame grounder between Jack Charlton and Banks, both of whom looking at each other as it crossed the line (0-1). The crowd were silenced. Bobby Moore had later written in his autobiography that a player of Haller’s quality should not have scored against England and was not good enough to win the World Cup. A stereotypical English opinion of German footballers! Haller was everything the English hated about the Germans – blond, strutting, prone to theatrics when fouled and with a first name of Helmut. He was also a world class player in spite of Moore’s assertions, who helped Bologna and Juventus win Serie A titles. England took heart from the fact that in all World Cup finals since the war, the team scoring first had ended up on the losing side. Six minutes later, Moore moved a long way up on the left side and was brought down by Overath. He took a quick free-kick before the referee whistled and clipped a pass to the running Hurst whose downward header found the back of the net (1-1). The next hour was like a heavyweight boxing contest with both defences ruling the roost- a lot of punches thrown but none connecting.

In the 78th minute, an England corner was taken by Alan Ball from the right. Hurst received the ball in the edge of the box and took a very poor shot. The West German left-back, Horst-Dieter Höttges lunged to clear the ball only to balloon it up towards the right hand back post. Martin Peters, the English right midfielder reached the ball before Jack Charlton and drove it from seven yards out past a hapless goalkeeper, Hans Tilkowski and Schnellinger on the goal line into the back of the net (2-1). The match seemed over as the crowd grew vociferous in its support of the home team. They had forgotten that their opponents were the ‘comeback kings’ – West Germany. In the 89th minute, West Germany got a free kick on the left when Jack Charlton leaned into Held. Emmerich, who had been very quiet during the match, took a low powerful shot into the English penalty box. The shot hit George Cohen, the English right-back and bounced to Held who shot towards the goal. Held’s shot hit his own player, Schnellinger on the back and took a ricochet towards the right where Seeler couldn’t reach it but Wolfgang Weber, the defender lifted it over the feet of the lunging Wilson and the hands of the diving Banks into the net (2-2). It was the first time since 1934 that the World Cup final was running into extra-time.

The moment of truth. Goal ...?

Then came the pivotal moment of the match in the 101st minute – Alan Ball ran into the right hand side line and hit a first time cross for Hurst who had lost his marker, Wili Schulz. Hurst took a shot from the right side of the penalty box which crashed against the bar and bounced on the line and was headed over the bar by Weber. Hunt had already started celebrating a goal claiming that the ball had crossed the line. The Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst went to confer with the Soviet linesman from Azerbaijan, Tofik Bakhramov. The officials spoke different languages and understood little of what the other was saying. However, Bakhramov confidently nodded his head indicating that the ball had crossed the line (3-2). The West Germans surrounded the referee and linesman protesting against the decision. It is believed that the linesman shouted back at the West Germans: “This is for Stalingrad”.  Probably a figment of imagination as none of the Germans could understand Russian or Azerbaijani, the languages spoken by Bakhramov. Bakhramov was later honoured when the national stadium of Azerbaijan at Baku was named after him. The West Germans were shocked and went for an all-out attack to get the equaliser. In the 119th minute, Moore chested down a cross in the English penalty box and hit a long pass just into the opposition half to Hurst on the left. Hurst took the ball in his stride and ran through unchallenged as the entire opposition was in attack. Only Overath was chasing him in vain as he smashed a left-footer past the goalkeeper to become the only player to have scored a hat-trick in the World Cup final till date. The final whistle was blown and England had fulfilled their destiny. They had brought home the Cup! Bobby Moore received the Cup from the beaming Queen Elizabeth II and Alf Ramsey was lauded for his tactics.

Bobby Moore after receiving the Jules Rimet Cup from Queen Elizabeth II

The tournament was a huge success with great crowds and support, but it was tainted by the fact that the referees had not protected the ball-players who were literally kicked out. It was the first time that the officials had garnered more attention than the players. FIFA changed rules making it mandatory for all the officials in a match to speak the same language. 44 years later the English claimed that justice had been done when Frank Lampard was denied a goal against Germany in the quarter-finals of another World Cup. However, the Germans did not go on to win the tournament as the English had. Hurst, in an interview many years later felt that it was not a goal. Some studies with advanced computer technology also validate Hurst’s opinion. So the question still remains – was it really a goal?  The debate still rages on….