With the odds stacked them against at 1,000/1, the comrades from North Korea were there in Queen’s England to make up the numbers. The British pundits, at least, thought so.
The sturdy fellows with elite army training backgrounds and brainwashed by the colourful despot Kim Il-Sung, though, had other plans and were ready to unleash the “coloured” Asian’s wrath on the high and mighty of Europe and Latin America.
After initial hiccups against the Soviets (a 0-3 drubbing), the Koreans were up and running and drew their next game against Chile 1-1. With a win required over the manicured, slick alpha males of Italy, they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history, proceeding to the next round courtesy a slim 1-0 victory.
Park Doo-Ik wrote himself into the record books. As the ball was headed towards the Italian area, Park collected it coolly before hitting it past keeper Enrico Albertosi.
North Korea, now buoyed by working-class support from the Middlesbrough locals, faced Portugal in the last eight. Here, too, the side unexpectedly surged ahead, Pak Seung-Zin scoring moments after kick off. After 22 minutes, Dong-Woon Lee increased the lead and the Portuguese were all at sea as Yang Sung-Kook made it 3-0, giving the Middlesbrough faithful a strong dilemma to deal with — England or North Korea — their choice for the imminent semi-final clash.
But their assumptions were a little premature as a certain Eusebio decided to take the game by its neck and scored four goals to bring a reluctant end to the fairytale. Despite the loss, the “hungry” soldiers had captured the imagination of the world and returned as heroes behind the iron curtain, only to be lost again. England, now with the support of the Middlesbrough masses along with the rest of the home nation, went on to lift its only World Cup, Geoff Hurst scoring the only Cup final hat-trick, against West Germany at Wembley.