The script had been written. Brazil were hosting the fourth FIFA World Cup™. Brazil were winning the fourth World Cup. They had scored a staggering 5.75 goals per game en route to conquering the previous year’s Copa America. They boasted a mind-blowing attack with Zizinho as its nexus. They had even rehearsed a victory song for weeks. Obdulio Varela and Co, however, were not interested in being a bit player in a local fairy tale. Here is the statistical story of Uruguay’s 1950 triumph.
was the attendance that gives Uruguay-Brazil the record crowd for a World Cup match. Although that was the official attendance, it is widely believed that over 200,000 were inside the Maracana that day – exactly one month after it was inaugurated.
years to the day after his goal won Uruguay the World Cup, on 16 July 2015, Alcides Ghiggia passed away, aged 88. The former Penarol and Roma player was the only member of Uruguay’s 1950 squad to live to see the second World Cup Brazil hosted – but not without overcoming the odds once again. In 2012 a truck collided with Ghiggia’s Renault Clio, throwing him through its windshield, and leaving him on life support for 37 days. Ghiggia did not quite become the longest living member of Juan Lopez’s squad – Anibal Paz was two months shy of his 96th birthday when he died in 2013.
years and 236 days old was the age at which George Reader, while overseeing Uruguay-Brazil, became the oldest man to referee a World Cup match. The English school teacher was, incredibly, born nine years before Ivan Eklind, who refereed the 1934 Final.
days before Brazil 1950 kicked off, Uruguay didn’t even have a coach. Oscar Marcenaro and Romeo Vasquez had overseen some forgettable recent results. Penarol refused to release their players if either Hector Castro, Enrique Fernandez or Jose Nasazzi – all Nacional-affiliated – was appointed. Nacional responded by vetoing Penarol’s Hungarian coach Imre Hirschl. The saga was finally ended by the Uruguayan Football Association handing the reins back to Lopez, whose only club experience came as a medical assistant at Central Espanol.
copies of the newspaper O Mundo – its cover emblazoned with the headline Here Are The World Champions above a picture of the Brazil team – is what Obdulio Varela scattered across the toilet floor of the Paysandu Hotel on the day of the decider. The Uruguay captain wrote ‘Trample and urinate on these newspapers’ in chalk on the mirrors, returned to the hotel restaurant, and ordered his team-mates to pay a visit to the lavatory and follow his instructions.
matches had passed since Uruguay had kept a clean sheet until Roque Maspoli managed one in an 8-0 thrashing of Bolivia in Belo Horizonte. La Verde had beaten La Celeste, who had Paz in goal, 3-2 at the Copa America 1949 in Rio de Janeiro.
was the whopping final-round goal-difference advantage Brazil had over Uruguay (+11 to +1) heading into their decider. A Seleção had smashed Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1, while La Celeste had drawn 2-2 with Spain and edged Sweden 3-2. Furthermore, Brazil’s goal-difference advantage over Uruguay at the Copa America 1949 was an astronomical 45 (+39 to -6).
goals without reply is what Uruguay posted against Bolivia to record the joint-fourth-biggest victory in World Cup history. It is outranked only by Hungary 10-1's scoreline against El Salvador in 1982, Hungary 9-0's win over Korea Republic in 1954 and Yugoslavia 9-0 triumph against Zaire in 1974.
years is what it took Juan Alberto Schiaffino to score an international goal outside Brazil. After debuting for Uruguay in January 1946, the attacker was on target in a Copa Rio Branco meeting with Brazil in Sao Paulo and thrice at the 1950 World Cup, but was unable to net outside South America’s biggest country – not even in his native Uruguay – until he ended the drought with four goals in five games in Switzerland in 1954.
of their last nine matches is what Uruguay lost heading into the 1950 World Cup – easily the worst run a triumphant team was on heading into the tournament. Los Charrúas’ defeats included ones to then-minnows Chile, Paraguay and Peru.
men is all that were ranked above Schiaffino in France Football’s 1994 publication of the 100 World Cup Heroes: (in order) Pele, Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbauer, Just Fontaine, Gerd Muller, Garrincha and Bobby Moore. Schiaffino was also positioned eighth in Italian magazine Guerin Sportivo’s ranking of the Top 50 Players of the 20th Century, ahead of the likes of Michel Platini, Franz Beckenbauer and Eusebio.
sets of relatives have won the World Cup. Jose Andrade was one of the stars of the 1930 tournament, while his nephew Victor Rodriguez – also a defensive midfielder – played in all of Uruguay’s games in 1950. The other relatives were both brothers – Fritz and Ottmar Walter with West Germany in 1954, and Jack and Bobby Charlton with England in 1966. Uli Hoeness played in West Germany’s victory over the Netherlands in the 1974 Final, but his brother Dieter was on the losing side in the ’86 decider.
players is all that have scored in every game of a triumphant team’s campaign – and both, curiously, were not strikers but right-wingers. Ghiggia netted once in each of Uruguay’s four outings at Brazil 1950, but surprisingly didn’t score a single goal for La Celeste outside that tournament. Jairzinho was on target in all six of Brazil’s matches at Mexico 1970.
World Cup appearance is all Ruben Moran made in his career – and in it he helped Uruguay become champions. When Ernesto Vidal sustained an injury heading into the showdown with Brazil, Lopez surprisingly handed the shy, skinny 19-year-old a start. Moran, Pele and Giuseppe Bergomi are the only teenagers to have played in the World Cup’s concluding match, with all three emerging champions.