The newly built Maracana and its 200,000 noisy spectators were all geared up to celebrate Brazil’s expected first World Cup triumph in 1950.
FIFA World Cup 1950 Stats
It was smooth sailing for the home team in the final against Uruguay as Friaca put Brazil, playing in white, ahead. But Juan Schiaffino found an unlikely equaliser for the visitor, and 11 minutes from time Alcides Ghiggia turned the Brazilians’ joy into despair, scoring what turned out to be the winner.
So upset was the host that it forgot to give Uruguay the trophy and the crowd sat in a silence too difficult to bear. The national team refused to wear white ever again.
The brightest spot of the meet, though, was produced by an unknown Haitian Joe Gaetjens, who was drafted into the USA side and played only three internationals.
His solitary goal pushed out Walter Winterbottom’s England, playing in the competition for the first time following a self-imposed exile from FIFA for 17 years.
England, which had thrashed a combined European XI 6-1 ahead of the Cup, was considered the favourite, but went home early after two defeats to the USA and Spain.
Back in England, newspapers thought the result was a typing error by news agencies and changed it to 10-1.
The reality was that England — the team included Alf Ramsey, architect of its 1966 triumph — was bound for an embarrassingly early exit as the game’s founder had arrived ill-prepared and over-confident for such a high-profile competition.
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