King Pele arrives


FROM the frenzy of the Maracana Stadium in Brazil to the serenity of Switzerland, the World Cup returned to Europe. The evolution of the competition continued and for the first time players wore numbers on their jerseys, matches began to be televised and, besides, there were representations from the freshly founded Asian Football Confederation's S. Korea (in 1938 Dutch East Indies was the first Asian team to take part) and Africa (Egypt) to give the World Cup a truly global touch. There was improvement in the overall standards. In all 16 teams were in the final round, three more than in the previous edition. This number was the benchmark for the succeeding editions until Spain '82.

If Brazil's loss at home in 1950 was considered a shock, what happened in the 1954 edition was even more unbelievable. After its stupendous form and performance around this time, including winning the Olympic title in the 1952 Helsinki Games, Hungary was rated a raging favourite to clinch its first World Cup title. Unbeaten since 1950 (in all 31 games, 27 wins and 4 draws), the 'Magical Magyars', as the Hungarians came to be known, had a set of players such as Ferenc Puskas, Jozsef Bozsik, Hidegkuti and Sandor Kocsis. A year before the World Cup, Hungary had humbled England, considered a powerhouse, both away and at home. And yet, the World Cup turned out to be a different experience. Germany, which Hungary had beaten 8-3 in the first round, had the last laugh in what was a sensational final.

To start with, Germany was not considered a fancied side. Its key players were skipper Fritz Walter, his brother Otmar Walter and Horst Eckel. In contrast was defending champion Uruguay though without Ghiggia. But other familiar names such as Schiaffino, goalkeeper Maspoli, Andrade and Varela were present. Brazil was without the trio Zizinho, Ademir and Jair. Didi, the master of the swerving free kick, Baltzar and Julinho were some of the new players to come in.

Expectedly, Hungary held the attention initially, scoring 17 goals in its first two games. In the process, however, Puskas sustained an injury, courtesy the German Werner Liebrich, something that shattered Hungary's dream of a World Cup win. Germany, which had lost 3-8 to Hungary, caught up soon and the way Helmut Rahn and Liebrich shaped up, things augured well for the team. The 7-1 annihilation of Turkey was a reflection of that. In fact, such was the goal-glut at other places too that, at the end of 26 matches, an incredible 140 goals had been scored at an average of 5.38, a record in the World Cup competition.

Things moved on expected lines when Hungary, Brazil, England, Uruguay, West Germany, Yugoslavia, Austria and host Switzerland reached the last eight. Then it happened, in the match between Brazil and Hungary. A contest that went on corrosive lines, became notorious with violence on the field spreading to the dressing room. "The battle of Berne", historians say, was initiated by Brazil. Injury kept Puskas out of the match but Bozsik had the mortification of being expelled. Still Hungary won (4-2) despite being bogged down earlier due to flashes of brilliance coming from Brazilians Didi, Julinho and Djalma Santos. Uruguay beat England by a similar margin but minus the violence. At Lausanne, where Austria beat Switzerland 7-5, the highest scoring in a World Cup match was registered. Germany confirmed its rising stature when it downed Yugoslavia 2-0, which included an own goal. It was a contest between the finesse of the Yugoslavs and the power and fierce determination of the Germans.

Hungary and Uruguay played a great semi-final and eventually the Hungarians went through 4-2, once again without Puskas but with the prowess of Kocsis, who netted twice. At Basel, Germany was in imperious touch to massacre Austria 6-1. Austria later had the consolation of taking the third spot beating Uruguay 3-1. The question before the final was whether Puskas would play. He did, despite not being fully fit, and scored too to put Hungary up 2-0. German resilience took over and in the space of 10 minutes, parity was restored. The Hungarian magic was replaced with German onslaught and Rahn shot in with six minutes to go. The World Cup victory for Germany was a precursor to many more successes.

Sweden hosted the 1958 edition. Two years before that, the founding father of the World Cup, Jules Rimet passed away. Sweden also gave the first insight on the prodigy by name Pele, the 17-year-old Brazilian who became a household name later. He started off with a goal against Wales, followed it with a hat-trick in Brazil's 5-2 walloping of France in the semi-final and two more goals in the 5-2 triumph over the host in the final to help Brazil to its first World Cup success. With television going worldwide, Pele's exploits were witnessed in millions of homes. Also to earn fame in this edition was Frenchman Just Fontaine who scored 13 goals, a record in the tournament. The Sweden edition also witnessed a goalless draw for the first time (England v Brazil).

By the end of the tournament, apart from Pele and Fontaine, television has ensured bigger advertisement on the mastery of the game from the likes of Kopa, Charlton, Yashin, Garrincha and Vava. The Sixth edition was also marked by a surging number of participants - a record 55. The qualifying rounds threw up many surprises as Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain as also two-time winners Uruguay and Italy, all failing to qualify. In their absence new names such as Wales, Northern Ireland and USSR emerged after the first round of the finals.

France was one of the notable performers in the initial phase with the trio Kopa, Piantoni and Fontaine catching the eye. And the team gathered quite a few honours: best goal-scorer (Just Fontaine), best attack (23 goals) and best player (Kopa, decided by an international panel). However the smooth sailing of France, which had topped its pool, ended in the semi-final against Brazil due to the brilliance of Pele.

Earlier in the quarter-final, Pele had done the star-turn against Wales. Brazil got past Austria (3-0), drew with England 0-0 and beat USSR (2-0) to top its pool. In the final, once again Brazil was lined-up against Sweden, which had got everyone wrong by storming into the final.

Many thought of Sweden as a scratch team but it proved to be a well-knit unit as it defeated Germany in the semi-final. With a massive number rooting for the home team, Sweden started on the wrong foot when Schaeffer, latching on to a Seeler pass, beat Svensson hands down. Sweden's equaliser was of doubtful nature, Liedholm having touched the ball before squaring it to Skoglund to score. Rough play at this stage affected Germany as it lost two players even as Sweden was in full cry. Gren and Hamrin ended Germany's run and when France later beat it 6-3 for the third place, the defending champion's misery was complete.

On to the final in Stockholm and on a rainy day. Brazil which had never gone in arrears experienced just that. The ease with which Liedholm pricked holes in the Brazilian defence to score, the signs were alarming for Brazil. But before long Pele, Garrincha, Vava, Didi and Zagalo took over to leave the Swedes in a daze. A 5-2 win it was for Brazil, Agne Simonsson having reduced the margin earlier, for its maiden World Cup success. Back to South America, the 1962 edition in Chile produced another Brazilian success story though largely without its star Pele, injured in the opening match itself against Czechoslovakia. The tournament, for the first time, witnessed more a 'physical' approach by teams and in particular the matches featuring USSR-Yugoslavia, Chile-Italy, West Germany-Switzerland were marred by such corrosive tackles. The worst, however, happened in the match involving Italy and Chile which saw two Italians being sent off and another ending up with a broken nose. This notorious match which witnessed spitting, fighting and dangerous tackles was referred in FIFA history as the 'Battle of Santiago'. Chile won that match 2-0.

The participation level continued to rise with 56 teams taking part, one more than the previous edition. As always, surprises were never in short supply. The biggest was the elimination of the two big guns of the previous edition, France and Sweden as also Northern Ireland and Wales. The competition showed the vast gulf in standards between Asian, African and the rest of the world. Korea, Moroccco and Israel went down in the preliminary phase. Thus 10 countries from Europe and six from South America contested the final phase.

Host Chile started off well, beating Switzerland 3-1 before a huge gathering of partisan fans. Then followed the 'Battle of Santiago'. Eventually Chile made it to the quarter-final despite losing to Germany. USSR and Yugoslavia advanced from another group but the highlight there was the surprise Colombia had in store for USSR. Having contributed to Uruguay's exit, USSR, leading 4-1 against Colombia, almost slipped to defeat. That Colombia finally forced an astonishing 4-4 draw reflected one of the low points in the great goalkeeper Lev Yashin's career. Rada and Klinger were the ones to torment him and worse, hastened his exit from the World Cup scene.

Brazil and Czechoslovakia progressed from another group but Pele was a spectator by the second match having sustained a thigh-muscle tear in the goalless drawn match against the latter. The highly resourceful Amarildo was Pele's successor and Brazil's purpose was well-served. There was much interest in the Brazil-Spain match as Puskas was assisting the latter and helped Adelardo to score. Spain led, even came close to increasing the lead twice but eventually the double strike by Amarildo sent out Spain.

Hungary and England were the qualifiers from the last group. Argentina and Bulgaria were the other teams in this group. Spearheaded by Albert and Solymosi, Hungary's best was a thumping 6-1 win over Bulgaria. Hungary also beat England while Argentina had only one win to show against Bulgaria.

With four countries - Hungary, Czechoslovakia, USSR and Yugoslavia - in the quarter-final, the progress of the Eastern European countries was particularly noteworthy. The Czechs and Yugoslavs advanced further through their 1-0 wins over Hungary and West Germany respectively. Scherer had that rare opportunity to beat Grosics under the Hungarian bar. Yugoslavia was indebted to Radakovic for the win in a match that was replete with much physical play and tight marking. Still that one moment when Radakovic found the room with a Galic pass to essay an unstoppable 15-yarder past Fahrian settled the issue.

The Soviet Union went down 1-2 to Chile while Brazil, without Pele, had the fire power to carve a 3-1 win over England. USSR, for once, saw Yashin in poor light as he failed to negotiate a long shot by Leonel Sanchez before Eladios Rojas had struck the match winner. Chislenko had earlier equalised for USSR. Out of the shadow of Pele, Garrincha was in full glow as he showed his rich repertoire of skills to score twice, one a header after outjumping a six-foot rival Maurice Norman. Vava added another. For England the consolation came from Hitchens.

Chile's fairy tale ended in the semi-final, Brazil ensuring that, thanks to the domineering presence of Garrincha, who scored twice as did Vava. Chile hit back through Toro and Leonel Sanches (penalty) but that was the farthest the host could go. Czechoslovakia, on the other hand, notched up a 3-1 win over Yugoslavia and made it to the final after 28 years. And like in Italy in 1938, the Czechs finished next best to Brazil, which found a new hero in Amarildo while winning the Cup for the second consecutive time. The Czechs had led through Masopust and like in the previous edition, Brazil began in arrears before Amarildo equalised. Zito and Vava added to the tally to ensure victory.