From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.33 :: NO.22 :: Jun. 03, 2010
Dogs and football are a rare mix. But this World Cup story has a heady blend of both, which gives a hilarious touch to it. The player involved, Jimmy Greaves of England, though, might not take it too kindly.
As England locked horns with defending champ Brazil at the 1962 earthquake ravaged World Cup in Chile, a small black dog decided to join the English players and gave the Brazilians a run for their money with its exceptional dribbling skills.
Taking not too kindly to this unexpected source of help, the English, too, joined their South American counterparts on a wild goose chase (dog in this case) and Greaves came up with the perfect strategy, going down on all fours, mimicking the canine.
The lighthearted pooch did give in to his charms, but proceeded to urinate all over the player's white England jersey, giving us another truly classic World Cup moment. Rumours have it that Garrincha, the undisputed luminary of the 1962 Cup, took a liking to Greaves' tormentor and took it home as a souvenir from Chile.
Another star of the 1962 World Cup was Brazilian Amarildo. With Pele out of reckoning after two games of constant hacking by the opponents, Amarildo jelled well with Garrincha and delivered Brazil its second title. Such was the faith of coach Aimore Morera on his players that Brazil only fielded 12 players in the whole competition, Amarildo replacing an injured Pele after the first two games.
The other unsung hero was no doubt Carlos Dittborn, the hardworking president of the Chilean organising committee. With Chile hit by a huge earthquake ahead of the World Cup, Dittborn personally took it upon himself to oversee the construction of new stadiums and ensured a smooth tournament despite the tragedy. He, however, failed to see his effort bear fruit as a heart-attack claimed his life, a month prior to the kick-off.
The notorious “Battle of Santiago” between host, Chile and then twice champion Italy also deserves a mention here, where Italy's Giorgio Ferrini and Mario David were shown the door for mid-pitch brawls. BBC, which covered the game live on its radio service; commented: “The most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football ever.”1966
With odds stacked against them at 1000/1, 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 (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 the working class support from Middleborough 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 Middleborough 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 Middleborough 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.1970
The goalkeeper walks away with the save of the century and the Black Pearl is left red-faced, albeit, only for the time being.
England's Gordon Banks pulled off one of his and the World Cup's greatest saves in hot and humid Mexico in 1970 and it remains in the game's folklore a good four decades later.
The favourite to defend its title, the English team ran into trouble as it faced Brazil, which looked ominous, chasing history itself.
The initial period at the Estadio Julisco in Guadalajara belonged to the Samba boys, their speed and skill bamboozling their opponents. Ten minutes into the match, skipper Carlos Alberto sent a pass for Jairzinho to take on the English defence. The Brazilian cut past Leeds legend Terry Cooper, who looked pitiable on the occasion, and essayed a perfect cross over the far post, with Pele lurking free.
Subjected to heavy physical assault in the past two World Cups, the Brazilian great, out to claim his revenge, headed the ball in low and to the right, and got busy celebrating. The master, though, had underestimated the prowess of arguably the best 'keeper at that time, the indomitable Gordon Banks. The 6 ft. 1 in. goalie stretched out from post to post and tipped the ball away, diving, with his right hand stretched.
But he too, couldn't keep Pele and Co. out for long. The Brazilians rightly claimed their third World Cup title and with it the permanent ownership of the Jules Rimet Trophy. Mario Zagallo achieved the rare double of winning the Cup both as a player (1958 & 1962) and coach.1974
The Dutch national side had failed to match the prowess of its bigger European neighbours and its first appearances in the 1934 and 1938 meet were largely inconsequential. The nation, thus, gradually disappeared into football wilderness for a good 36 years.
In the early 70s Dutch League leader Ajax Amsterdam brought in the concept of Total Football where any player (barring the goalkeeper) could play in any position in any part of the field. It worked wonderfully well for the team, three League titles and European success three years in a row from 1971 to 73, bearing testimony to the system's effectiveness.
The national side, too, took a leaf out of Ajax's book and was set to conquer the world, playing its own variety of Total Football. With unbelievable talents including the Feyenoord pairing of Wim Jansen and Rinus Israel and Ajax starlet Johan Neeskens and striker Piet Kezier, the team looked capable of trampling any opposition. But outshining them all in flair and fury was Johan Cruyff, playing for Barcelona then, after walking out of Ajax due to an argument over captaincy.
The team's first game in West Germany was against Uruguay in Hanover and Ajax striker Johnny Rep scored twice in a 2-0 win marred by persistent fouling by the South Americans.
In their second game, though, the Dutch were held goalless by the tough-tackling Swedes. But Cruyff's prodigious display of turning in that game, christened rather lamely as “Cruyff Turn,” still remains as one best examples of artistic displays on the field. Such was Cruyff's class, Swedish right-back Jan Olsson was left dumbfounded as the play-maker planted his left foot and faked to cross with his right. Instead, he used it to drag the ball behind, turn 180 degrees and accelerate past the poor defender. Olsson was left standing like a drunk fumbling for his house keys after a night of out-of-control revelling.
The move though was first showcased in the opener itself, Uruguayan fullback Baudilio Jáuregui being its first victim. But the fact remains that only Olsson's misfortune gained prominence, most likely due to the fortuitous camera angle and the Swede's rather bizarre reaction.
The world instantly fell in love with the gifted side, wearing the iconic bright orange kit, and its magical leader. The mood was of celebration and the players had their girlfriends and wives stay over, and each goal, each win was celebrated as if the Cup had already been won. Holland was to meet Germany in the final, and a major party was planned at the Dutch team hotel on the eve of the game, in anticipation of victory.
But the plans fell apart when German newspapers published details of it. The final next day was a similar fiasco, as Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller cancelled out Johan Neeskens' early penalty. Germany won its second title, with Holland, another brilliant side like Hungary in 1954, falling at the final hurdle only because of overconfidence.1978
Argentina, in 1978, wasn't a fun place to be for pro-democracy, free-speech supporters. The military junta in power there was happily rounding up people and making liberal upstarts go missing when the World Cup arrived in the middle of the year. With already a slew of players pulling out because of political differences (including Johan Cruyff), the tournament got marred with further corruption charges as Peru went down, rather ingloriously to Argentina in its last league game, providing a safe passage for the host into the knockout phase.
Needing six goals to overrun Brazil, on goal-difference, La Albiceleste did exactly that and with the Argentine-born Ramon Quiroga guarding the Peruvian goal, the win had the fingerprints of the brutal regime all over it, but nothing has ever been proven. The host, thankfully, drew inspiration from that victory and went on to win its first World Cup, untarnished by any more absurdities.
The high-flying Dutch were again the casualties, losing the final 1-3, though bringing some relief to forward Johan Neeskens who famously observed after losing, “If we had won, we would not have left the stadium alive.”
Held in the fiercely guarded River Plate's El Monumental stadium, the game ended on a stalemate at the end of regulation time after a goal from Mario Kempes was cancelled out by Holland's Dick Nanninga. Extra-time followed and Kempes made the breakthrough in the first period before Daniel Bertoni made it 3-1 on a counter-attack as the packed stadium erupted in joy, signalling a home victory and some respite for the wary visitors.
The 31-year-old Scotsman, Archie Gemmill, should also be remembered for his moment of brilliance in the same competition. With a surprise loss to Peru and a draw with debutant Iran, a win over the Dutch by three goals was necessary to push the Scots to the next round. Kenny Dalglish scored one on half-time to cancel out Rob Rensenbrink's early penalty and Gemmill converted from the spot to keep the Scots within striking distance. Gemmill again scored in the second session, with a stupendous effort. He collected the ball in the midfield, dodged past a Dutch player and danced through two more before slipping it past the keeper. The mind-boggling goal received instant cult status. But despite Gemmill's splendour, Johnny Rep scored soon to keep Holland safe on goal difference and inflict another early heartbreak for the Scots.1982
With 24 teams participating for the first time, the competition in Spain was expected to reach unprecedented heights with its quality and quantity of football. The Brazilian side featuring the likes of the temperamental yet brilliant “White Pele” Zico along with Falcao, Serginho and legendary skipper Socrates, who captained his country with pride and smoked a pack a day, looked the team to beat at the start of tournament.
The Italians, on the other hand, were reeling under allegations of betting and bribery scandals involving Serie A players, clubs and officials. One such player to be sanctioned was the very maligned Juventus striker Paolo Rossi, who was being vilified all over the Italian Press for his unexpected recall to the national side so soon after such blatant involvement in dreadful foul play, which had left him suspended for two years from the game.
In a virtual quarter-final between Italy and Brazil, where the South Americans had the easier option of just a draw to reach the semi-finals on goal difference, amazingly the Italians drew first blood. The Brazilians, on the back-foot, took just seven minutes to get the scores level when captain Socrates burst through the Italian embankments and slotted past goalkeeper Dino Zoff. Taking advantage of Brazil's suspect defence, Rossi restored Italy's lead and as halftime came the Azzuris were just 45 minutes away from a seemingly unthinkable semi-final place. Brazil came out hard in the second session. The Italians defended stoutly, but Paulo Roberto Falcao hit an unstoppable shot past Zoff and the scores were drawn again. With 20 minutes to pass, Brazil could only survive for six as Marco Tardelli's shot fell for Rossi on the edge of the six- yard box. Dutifully he completed his hat-trick. A hat-trick for a striker whose head was on the chopping block, back home, only a while back.
A desperate Brazil was kept at bay and from thereon the Italians kicked up a storm which ended with another memorable Cup triumph.
A certain Diego Maradona, destined to be a star four years later, also made his Cup debut in Spain, only to be red-carded in a second round game against Brazil, after he had kicked Brazilian player Joao Batista in the 85th minute.
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