A-Z of the World Cup





   The World Cup history is full of different stories. We have searched through archives, videos and books for strange happenings and facts. Here you can read about some of what we found....

Alf Ramsey - manager of England's World Cup winners in 1966 - ran out on the field immediately after the final whistle after his team beat Argentina in the quarterfinal. But not in celebration, but to prevent his players to swap shirts with the Argentinians. Mr. Ramsey said: "We don't swap shirts with animals!".

Brothers have been part of the same World Cup squad several times. But Victor and Vyacheslav Chanov are unique. They were in the 1982 Soviet Union squad, both as goalkeepers! None of them played a match though, as the great Rinat Dasaev was first choice.

Captaining a winning side must be every player's dream. It's a once in a lifetime experience, and the history shows it too. None has done it twice. Diego Maradona has been the closest when he captained Argentina to victory in 1986 and to silvermedals in 1990. Dunga of Brazil won as captain in 1994 and lost the final in 1998 and in some way copied Maradona. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is the only captain to lose two World Cup finals (1982 and 1986).

Dismissals or sending-offs didn't help much in the Brazil - Hungary game in 1954. 3 players were sent off, but by today's standard the number would have been much higher. The match produced disgraceful scenes and was later dubbed as "The battle of Berne". The players were still fighting on their way back to the dressingrooms after the final whistle! Hungary won the match 4-2.

Erik Nilsson of Sweden and Alfred Bickel of Switzerland are the only men to have played in the World Cup both before and after World War II. They both appeared in 1938 and 1950.

For the United Arab Emirates, winning the World Cup was not realistic. In 1990 they were knocked out after three straight defeats in the groupstage. However, they managed to score two goals and no wonder the goalscorers celebrated as if they had won the World Cup. The players received a Rolls Royce for every goal they scored!

Gays, longhaired players and players with earrings did not have a future in the Argentine national side as long as Daniel Passarella was the coach. He set strict rules for the candidates to the tournament in France. Even Gabriel Batistuta got his hair cut, not to miss the World Cup.

Harald Schumacher, West Germany's great goalkeeper and twice World Cup silvermedalist, is perhaps best known for his assult on French defender Patrick Battiston in the 1982 semifinal. After losing his second World Cup final in 1986, he said he wanted to come back in 1990 and win the cup at his third attempt. But in 1987 he wrote a book and claimed 90% of the players in the German Bundesliga did drugs! He was never picked for the German squad again after that. He escaped to Turkey and played league soccer there instead.

Injury time added on by the referree is sometimes necessary. But Frenchman Michel Vautrot added on 8 minutes only in the first period of extra-time in the semifinal between Italy and Argentina in 1990! He later admitted he forgot about the time.

José Batista of Uruguay was sent off after just 56 seconds against Scotland in 1986! That is the fastest dismissal in World Cup history. His foul on Gordon Strachan gave French referee Joël Quiniou no choice. Uruguay kept the score at 0-0 and progressed to the next round at the expense of Scotland.

Korea (North) sent Italy out of the 1966 World Cup already in the groupstage. In Italy such an early exit is not accepted. Their flight home had a secret destination to avoid the press, media and angry fans. Many fans still found out where they arrived and their bus at the airport was bombarded by fruit and rotten tomatoes as they escaped!

Laszlo Kiss of Hungary is the only substitute to have scored a hat-trick in the World Cup. Hungary were 5-1 ahead when Kiss scored his first of three in this match against El Salvador which ended 10-1 in Spain 1982!  That is by the way the biggest victory in World Cup history.

Mario Zagallo managed Brazil to their 1970 triumph, with that he became the first man to play in and then manage a World Cup winning team. He was a member of the Brazillian sides which won the trophy in 1958 and 1962. Later Franz Beckenbauer copied that feat.

No match in World Cup history has been more distasteful than the West Germany - Austria clash in Spain 1982. Because of the format of the tournament, only a 1-0 win to the Germans meant that both these neighbour countries would proceed to the next round at the expense of Algeria. When West Germany took the lead after 10 minutes, both teams virtually stopped playing. It slowed down to walking pace with neither of the teams interested in going forward. The neutral Spanish crowd and the Algerian fans constantly booed and shouted, a German supporter was so disgusted that he set fire to his national flag on the terraces. The following day Algeria protested to FIFA that the game had been fixed and called for both teams to be disqualified, but their protest was rejected. From the 1986 World Cup onwards, the last round of matches in the 1st round have been played simultaneously to avoid scandals like that.

One of the most controversial managerial decisions was made by Ademar Pimenta, coach for Brazil in 1938. Leonidas, one of the stars of that tournament, had scored 6 goals in two rounds, but was left out of the team for the semifinal against defending champions Italy because the manager wanted to save him for the final! Brazil lost the game, but won the bronzematch this time with Leonidas in the team scoring twice!

Penalty shoot-outs have played a vital part in recent World Cups. (West) Germany have the best record, winning all four shoot-outs they have been part of. England have the worst record with three losses in three shoot-outs.

Quiroga, with the first name Ramon, was keeper for Peru in the 1978 World Cup. He was similar to his Colombian colleague René Higuita in his style of goalkeeping. In Peru's match against Poland (0-1) he set some kind of record as being the only keeper to be booked for a foul in the opponents half of the field!

Russian referree Miroslav Stupar made a controversial decision in the Kuwait - France match in 1982. France led 3-1 when Giresse blasted home number four with the Kuwaiti defenders rooted to the spot. They claimed they had stopped playing upon hearing a whistle. The Kuwaiti FA president Prince Fahid came on to the field from his seat in the stands and protested long and hard. It led to Stupar disallowing the goal! However, France scored a fourth goal in the last minute. For Prince Fahed's interference an £8.000 fine was imposed on the Kuwaitis by FIFA.

Suspension made it impossible for Paolo Rossi to play for two years. Just weeks before the 1982 World Cup, he returned after being punished for a bribe scandal. Coach Enzo Bearzot had faith in him and picked him for the squad, despite playing just a few games in the last couple of years. He played four games in the cup without scoring, the pressure on Rossi and Bearzot increased. People wanted him out of the team. But in a decisive match against favourites Brazil, he scored a hat-trick and sent Italy to the semis, there he scored both goals in the 2-0 win against Poland, and he scored the first in Italy's 3-1 victory over West Germany in the final. Those 6 goals made in him topscorer of the tournament.

The World Cup has only seen 5 players who each have appeared for two nations: José Altafini (then known as Mazzola) Brazil in 1958 and Italy in 1962; Luis Monti, Argentina in 1930 and Italy in 1934; Ferenc Puskas, Hungary in 1954 and Spain 1962; José Santamaria for Uruguay in 1954 and Spain in 1962 and Robert Prosinecki for Yugoslavia in 1990 and Croatia in 1998.

Usually the World Cup Final produces lots of goals. No final match had produced less than three goals until West Germany beat Argentina by 1-0 in 1990, and after 1990 no final match has produced more than three goals. Before 1990 we hadn't had a single player sent off in a Final, but including 1990 and onwards we've had five players sent off in the six Finals that have been played. Football has changed.

Venue for the 1970 World Cup's opening match was the Azteca Stadium in Mexico. This match between Mexico and the Soviet Union marked the start of a new era, as substitutions, yellow and red cards were used for the first time in the competition's history.

Walter Zenga, goalkeeper of Italy, holds the record of longest unbeaten goalkeeper in World Cup history. He played 517 minutes (Almost 6 games) without letting in a goal in the 1990 tournament. Claudio Caniggia of Argentina ended his run in the semifinal which Italy lost on penalties.

Xuereb of France (first name Daniel) came on as a substitute for Bruno Bellone in the semifinal against West Germany in 1986, that meant that every letter in the alphabet had been used for players' surnames since the start of the championships in 1930.

Youngest player to have appeared in a World Cup match, was Norman Whiteside of Northern Ireland in 1982. He was 17 years and 42 days old when he played against Yugoslavia. The oldest player, was Roger Milla of Cameroon, who was 42 years and 39 days when he played against Russia in 1994. He infact scored in that game, making him the oldest goalscorer as well!

Zairean Muampa Kazadi was the first goalkeeper to be replaced for any other reason than injury in World Cup history, when Zaïre were 0-3 down versus Yugoslavia after just 22 minutes in 1974. However, his replacement Dimbi Tubilandu couldn't stop the goalrush and his country eventually lost the game 9-0! Only one other time has a goalkeeper been replaced for any other reason than injury. That was in the bronzematch in USA 1994, when Bulgarian keeper Mihailov was substituted at half time when Sweden lead 4-0. Nikolov came in for him and kept a clean sheet in the second half as the result stayed that way.



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