FACTS & FIGURES

STATISTICS are the sine qua non of any sport. While some would argue that they may not always tell the whole story of a player or a team, others would say that they reveal everything. But one thing is sure, statistics will continue to have a heavy influence on sport.

From the inaugural edition of the World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay to the 1998 edition in France, statistics have provided valuable information to the readers.

Here are the best of the statistics of the last 16 World Cups - most number of goals scored, fastest goals, leading scorers and many such interesting facts.

** Do you know who was the youngest player ever to play a match in the World Cup? It was not Pele but one Norman Whiteside of Northern Ireland, at 17 years and 41 days in the 1982 Spain event. And did you know that Frenchman Lucien Laurent netted the World Cup's first goal - against Mexico. Read on.

** Players to have scored in every match including the final: Alcide Ghiggia (Uruguay) in 1950 and Jairzinho (Brazil) in 1970.

** Fastest goal by a substitute: Ebbe Sand (Denmark) v Nigeria in 16 secs in 1998.

** First substitute to score a goal: Juan Basaguren (Mexico) v El Salvador in 1970.

** First player to score a hat-trick: Bert Patenaude (USA) v Paraguay in 1930.

** First golden goal: Laurent Blanc (France) in the 113th min v Paraguay in 1998.

** Only player to have scored for two countries: Robert Prosinecki for Yugoslavia v UAE in 1990 and for Croatia v Jamaica in 1998.

** First expulsion in a World Cup: Mario De Las (Peru) v Romania in 1930.

** Oldest player to win the World Cup: Dino Zoff (Italy) at 40 years in 1982.

** Only coach to win the World Cup twice: Vittorio Pozzo (Italy) in 1934 & 38.

** Goalkeeper unbeaten for the longest period: Walter Zenga (Italy), six full games, 517 minutes until Argentina's Cannigia scored in the semifinals of 1990.

** Aurelio Gonzalez of Paraguay scored the first own goal in World Cup history - against USA in 1930.

** For the first time, former champions Italy and Uruguay did not qualify in '54.

** USSR, Northern Ireland and Wales qualified for the World Cup, for the first time, in '58.

** England, the country where the game is believed to have been played first, hosted the World Cup for the first time in '66.

** England's Geoff Hurst scored the first hat-trick ever in a World Cup final against Germany in '66.

** In 1970, for the first time, matches were beamed live on television.

** First expulsion of a goalkeeper: Neculla Raducanu of Romania against Brazil in '70.

** By winning the World Cup for the third time in 1970, Brazil took possession of the Jules Rimet Trophy.

** A new Trophy - FIFA World Cup - was introduced for the first time in '74.

** Number of finalists increased from the usual 16 to 24 for the first time in the 1982 Mexico event.

** Penalty shoot-out for the first time in World Cup history was in a '82 semifinal match between West Germany and France.

** Morocco became the first African nation to qualify for the second round of a World Cup.

** Costa Rica made its first appearance in the 1990 World Cup.

** Cameroon became the first African Nation to advance to the quarterfinal of the World Cup in 1990.

** Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) became the first man in history after Mario Zagalo (Brazil) to win the World Cup as a player and as a coach.

** Saudi Arabia became the first Asian team, since North Korea in 1966, to advance to the group stages in USA.

** For the first time, the (1994) USA World Cup was held in a continent other than Europe or South America.

** The first goal-less draw, in a World Cup match was between Brazil and England in 1958.

** The first indoor game in World Cup history: US v Switzerland (USA '94).

** Nigeria made its first World Cup appearance in USA.

** Youngest player to get expelled: 17 year-old Rigobert Song of Cameroon.

** Japan qualified for the first time in 1998.

** The number of finalists was increased to 32 for the first time in 1998.

** For the third time in a row, Italy was eliminated in a penalty shoot out in 1998.

** 1998 was France's first World Cup triumph. - Compiled by K. Keerthivasan