On this day, 29 June 1958 (Exactly 61 years ago) Vavá and Pelé each score two goals as Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 to win their first FIFA World Cup title at the Råsunda Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden.
Brazil got off to the worst possible start when Sweden’s Milan-based star Nils Liedholm shot the hosts into the lead after only four minutes.
Picking the ball calmly out of the net, the South Americans’ midfield general Didi then took control of the situation, intent on avoiding a repeat of the disaster that had befallen the country eight years earlier.
Tucking the ball under his arm and walking slowly back up the field before placing it on the centre spot, the 30-year-old gestured to his team-mates to stay calm.
Once the preserve of Uruguayan, Italian and German players, Didi’s composed authority brought reassurance to his fretting colleagues and allowed them to consign Rodrigues’ “mongrel complex” to history.
Within five minutes they were level, Garrincha breaking down the right and firing in a low cross that centre-forward Vava slid home from close range.
The man they called “Steel Chest” was on target again on 32 minutes, scoring a virtually identical goal after another surging run down the right by the irrepressible Garrincha had left the Swedish defence motionless.
Buoyed by their lead, the confident Brazilians began to enjoy themselves in the second half.
Their third goal, just two minutes after the break, was the most famous of the lot. Chesting down a cross inside the box, Pele flicked the ball over the nearest defender’s head and volleyed home for one of the finest goals ever scored in the finals.
Midway through the half Mario Zagallo put the result beyond doubt when he shot home at the near post.
Sweden then pulled one back only for Pele to score his second of the day with an injury-time header.
Bursting into tears when the final whistle came, the tyro had more than played his part in reversing the fortunes of A Seleção and helping it to move on from the failures of the past.
What they said
“After the fifth goal I didn’t want to mark Pele any more. I just wanted to applaud him.”
Sigge Parling, Sweden midfielder
“When I passed to Didi, I made as if I was going to run forward but turned back instead. That confused the defender a little and he let the ball come through to me. When I controlled it on my chest he thought I was going to shoot. I got my foot on it and flicked it over his head, which was something the Europeans weren’t used to. They always tried to close you down because they were used to people shooting straightaway. I hit the ball before it touched the ground and in it went. It was one of the most beautiful goals of my career.”
Pele relives Brazil’s third goal
“When Sweden went 1-0 up Didi picked the ball up and started talking to us, telling us we had the strength to go on and win the game. That boosted his confidence and ours as well. We knew we could win but I don’t think the Brazilian people had the same belief. Because of what happened in 1950 there was this idea that Brazil would get to the final and cave in. So what Didi did was crucial.”
Djalma Santos describes Didi’s reaction to Sweden’s opening goal
What happened next
At every World Cup held since Sweden 1958, Brazil have been rated among the favourites.
They lived up to that billing four years later in Chile, when with a side featuring only two changes from the team that had triumphed in Scandinavia did what no-one had achieved since Italy in the 1930s and retained the Trophy.
When Brazil won their third world crown at Mexico 1970 they were awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy outright, providing confirmation of their status as the pre-eminent force in world football.
The symbol of that unprecedented achievement was Pele, the only player in the history of the game to have won three world titles.
On this day 29 June 1986 (Exactly 33 years ago) Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 to win their second FIFA World Cup title at the Estadio Azteca, Mexico City
THE 1986 WORLD CUP
Mexico became the first country to stage the FIFA World Cup tournament finals for a second time when football’s greatest show returned to the site of Brazil’s 1970 triumph.
Yet, that time, it was Argentina who shrugged off the heat and high altitude to emerge victorious, inspired by their captain Diego Maradona who dominated the tournament in a way that arguably only Pele had done before.
The statistics tell that Argentina’s celebrated No10 scored five and created another five of his team’s 14 goals en route to a 3-2 Final victory over West Germany, runners-up for the second successive tournament.
Yet that was only half the story. The majesty of one of Maradona’s strikes and the notoriety of another seemed to capture the essence of a man described by France’s L’Equipe newspaper as “half-angel, half-devil”
Both those goals came in a 2-1 quarter-final victory over England at the Azteca Stadium that became an instant classic.
The first, in Maradona’s words, came from the ‘Hand of God’, the little playmaker raising an arm and flipping the ball past Peter Shilton as the big goalkeeper came out to punch clear.
The second, just three minutes later, was from the feet of a genius: picking the ball up inside his own half, ‘Dieguito’ set off on a dribble which left five England players, Shilton included, trailing in his wake before he found the net.
Mexico had earned the right to host the 1986 FIFA World Cup after Colombia withdrew citing financial reasons.
A terrible earthquake in September 1985 provided a tragic prelude – some 20,000 people died – but the stadiums were not affected and the country revived to stage a memorable tournament.
Lineker’s goal rush
If Maradona was the star attraction, there were other heroes, among them England striker Gary Lineker, winner of the Golden Shoe.
Lineker struck six goals – three of them in a decisive group game against Poland – to help his side recover from a poor start and the loss of injured captain Bryan Robson. With England trailing 2-0 to Argentina, he narrowed the deficit and came within a whisker of a late equaliser.
Denmark, one of three newcomers alongside Canada and Iraq, lit up the early stages with an attacking approach that earned them three straight wins, one over West Germany, and the nickname ‘Danish dynamite’.
Their forward line included Michael Laudrup and Preben Elkjaer, who scored a hat-trick in the 6-1 demolition of Uruguay.
USSR recorded the biggest victory of the first round, 6-0 over Hungary, and impressed with a team packed with players from UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup winners Dynamo Kiev – notably Igor Belanov, soon to be voted the 1986 European Player of the Year – and put together at short notice by that club’s coach, Valeriy Lobanovskyi.
Like the Danes, the Soviets won their first-round group but came unstuck in the second round, losing 4-3 to Belgium.
Belanov’s treble in Leon that day made him the third man to have struck a FIFA World Cup hat-trick yet finished on the losing side.
Denmark’s demise was even more dramatic: beaten 6-1 by a Spain side for whom Emilio Butragueno struck four times
Morocco make history
This FIFA World Cup had a change of format, with the second group stage dropped in favour of a last-16 knockout round.
This meant the four best third-placed teams all progressed but there was no need of a ‘second chance’ for Morocco, who became the first African team to survive the first round by winning their group thanks to a 3-1 success over Portugal, before succumbing to West Germany.
The Germans then needed a penalty shoot-out to get past hosts Mexico for whom Manuel Negrete had earlier scored one of the finals’ best goals, a spectacular scissors-kick against Bulgaria.
Three of the four quarter-finals were settled this way. While Belgium – with eccentric goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff prominent – overcame Spain, France ended the hopes of Brazil in a contest described by Pele as “historic”.
France, the European champions, had already eliminated holders Italy but they faced a more formidable rival in the South Americans who, with the score at 1-1, missed a chance of victory when goalkeeper Joel Bats saved Zico’s penalty.
Although Michel Platini missed his effort in the ensuing shoot-out, fellow midfielder Luis Fernandez struck to send France through.
Unfortunately for Les Bleus, they had to settle for third place after falling once again to West Germany in the semi-final.
Maradona scored another goal to remember in Argentina’s victory over Belgium in the other semi-final but Argentina’s captain found it less easy in the final, shadowed as he was by Lothar Matthaus.
One of the unsung heroes of Carlos Bilardo’s team opened the scoring, Jose Luis Brown, a central defender in search of a club side.
Jorge Valdano doubled the lead but the Germans fought back, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller both striking in a six-minute spell.
Not even Matthaus could keep Maradona quiet for 90 minutes, though, and parity lasted just three minutes.
Maradona sent Jorge Burruchaga running clear in the 83rd minute and Argentina had their third goal and, with it, a second world crown.
On this day 29 June 2008 (Exactly 11 years ago) Spain claimed their first major title for 44 years after winning Euro 2008 with a deserved victory over Germany.
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres was Spain’s goal hero, striking after 33 minutes when he cleverly lifted Xavi’s pass over Germany keeper Jens Lehmann.
Spain dominated the final throughout, with Torres heading against the post and Marcos Senna almost adding a second from close range after 80 minutes.
Michael Ballack came close for Germany, shooting narrowly wide after the break.
Germany: Lehmann, Friedrich, Metzelder, Mertesacker, Lahm (Jansen 46), Hitzlsperger (Kuranyi 58), Frings, Podolski, Ballack, Schweinsteiger, Klose (Gomez 79).
Subs Not Used: Enke, Adler, Fritz, Westermann, Rolfes, Neuville, Trochowski, Borowski, Odonkor.
Booked: Ballack, Kuranyi.
Spain: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila, Senna, Iniesta, Fabregas (Alonso 63), Xavi, Silva (Santi Cazorla 66), Torres (Guiza 78).
Subs Not Used: Palop, Reina, Albiol, Fernando Navarro, Villa, Sergio Garcia, Arbeloa, Juanito, De la Red.
Booked: Casillas, Torres.
Goals: Torres 33.
Attendance : 51,428
Ref: Roberto Rosetti (Italy)
On this day 29 June 2003 (Exactly 16 years ago) France beat Cameroon 1-0 to win the FIFA Confederations Cup.
With both teams forming a circle to observe a minute’s silence for Foe before the final kicked off, the match got off to an understandably slow start. While Henry threatened to break the deadlock several times before actually scoring, Cameroon also had good opportunities to take the lead through Pius Ndiefi and Samuel Eto’o.
With the game still scoreless after 90 minutes, Henry finally made the breakthrough seven minutes into extra time.
After Lilian Thuram successfully picked out the striker with a long ball into area from the right wing, the Arsenal legend beat Cameroon goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni from a tight angle with a first-time strike from close range.
With that golden goal, France became the first team to defend the FIFA Confederations Cup title, while Henry’s four strikes earned him the adidas Golden Boot and Golden Ball.
STORY: GEORGE MAHAMAH