• Guillermo Stabile pictured scoring on his FIFA World Cup™ debut
  • The Argentinian went on to become the inaugural edition’s top marksman
  • Stabile never played for La Albiceleste before, or after, the 1930 World Cup

Guillermo Stabile is enshrined in history as the FIFA World Cup™’s first top scorer. He secured that title in style, too, netting eight times in four appearances to inspire Argentina to the 1930 Final.

Yet even more remarkable than Stabile’s goalscoring exploits are the circumstances that followed and preceded them. You might be aware, for example, that the prolific striker – still just 25 at those inaugural finals – never played for his country again after thrilling the world.

What is perhaps less well known is that the Huracan star had not pulled on the Albiceleste shirt before the tournament either, and might never have done so. Fate intervened, however, in the shape of a university exam that caused first-choice Manuel Ferreira to drop out of Argentina’s second match at Uruguay 1930, handing Stabile an unexpected debut.

The above image shows the fast and elusive forward grasping that chance, heading into the Mexican net en route to an impressive hat-trick. Argentina won 6-3, Stabile kept his place and the rest now forms part of World Cup history, with five goals in his next three matches comfortably establishing him as the tournament’s pre-eminent marksman.

His last goal in Uruguay, and the final strike of a brief but brilliant international career, came in the Final. Stabile, in fact, put the Argentinians in front in a first half that they dominated, only for injuries and a Uruguayan revival to turn the match in the hosts’ favour.

Nonetheless, the striker had earned his place in World Cup folklore, and secured himself a lucrative move to Italian side Genoa. He would enjoy more success with the national team, and considerably more longevity, when he returned as coach in 1939, a position in which he led the team to six South American titles over a glittering 11-year spell.

Did you know?

Stabile’s runners-up medal from Uruguay 1930 is one of the fascinating exhibits from the tournament’s early history on display at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich.