ON THIS DAY: Pele inspires Brazil to 1st World Cup
On June 29 in World Cup history: Pele inspires Brazil to win first World Cup against hosts in Stockholm in 1958. Diego Maradona leads Argentina past West Germany in 1986 final in Mexico City. U.S. shocks England in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1950.
Brazil won its first World Cup title in 1958 in thrilling fashion, defeating host Sweden 5-2. As a result, it became the first team to win the tournament outside its continent. The 1958 tournament was notable for the emergence on the world stage of 17-year-old Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Pele, as he is known, scored twice in the final, taking his tournament tally to six. Still, he didn’t end up the tournament’s top-scorer as France’s Just Fontaine scored an astonishing 13, a record nobody has come close to matching since.
This was also a triumphant day for the other contender for the crown of football’s greatest ever player. At Azteca Stadium, Diego Maradona lifted the World Cup in 1986. Argentina wasn’t a one-man team, but Maradona at times made it look like it was, such was his drive and dominance through the tournament. In the final, West Germany contained him — up to a point. After coming back from 2-0 down, West Germany looked in the ascendant. However, with minutes to go in regular time, Maradona threaded a pass through to Jorge Burruchaga, who calmly slotted it past goalkeeper Harald Schumacher to secure Argentina’s second World Cup victory in three tournaments.
Having returned to the FIFA fold, England played in its first World Cup in 1950, and expected to contend. After beating Chile, England was tipped to beat the part-timers of the United States with ease. How could a team captained by Billy Wright and driven forward by Tom Finney lose? But lose it did, in one of the great World Cup upsets. Legend has it that newspaper editors in England thought the 1-0 result coming through on their wire feeds was some sort of typographical error. The picture of goalscorer Joe Gaetjens being carried off by cheering fans after the game proved there was no mistake.