Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 20-Alcidis Chiggia. The Man Who Made Brazil Cry (1950)

Uruguay 1950

Following World War 2 the world slowly got back to normal with some continents left less scarred than others. With the last two World Cups held in Europe and most of that continent still in ruins Brazil won the rights to host the event and get it back on track. England finally came to the party and took the World Cup seriously but were eliminated in the group stage thanks to the upset loss to the Americans.

The four winners of the groups went in to another group stage with no cup final and the winner of the group crowned champions. The group consisted of Spain, Sweden, hosts Brazil and unfancied Uruguay side who were making their first appearance since the first ever World Cup which they won in Argentina.

In their first two games Brazil were unstoppable wiping the floor with both Spain and Sweden 7-1 and 6-1 respectively. Only a fool would think they could lose it from here. Uruguay on the other hand drew their first game with Spain 2-2 and then came from 2-0 down to defeat Sweden 3-2 with the final two goals coming in to the final 15 minutes which meant they would survive to the final group match. That final group match would be against Brazil in a virtual final. All Brazil had to do was draw with Uruguay having to score the upset of the century to win their second cup.

The game would be played at the Maracana in Rio with over 200,000 people crammed in to the iconic venue for the final. The press had already labelled the Brazilians champions with an impromptu carnival organised for the morning of the game. Counting chickens much? One newspaper printed a picture of the Brazilian side with the headline ‘Here are the champions’ which the Uruguyan team saw when out for a stroll in the morning of the match. The captain of the side, the irrepressible Obdulio Varela, purchased as many of the papers as he could and took them back to hotel. There he laid the pictures out on the floor of a bathroom and ordered that all his teammates piss on the pictures.

Before the match the coach wanted Uruguay to play a defensive game and hope that Brazil would tire out. When the coach left the room Varela took on himself to demand that the players go out and attack and not bow down to the Brazilians and their superiority complex. His impassioned speech inspired the players and they went out there with the mindset to cause the upset of the century.

Uruguay held the Brazilians during the first 45 minutes as they struggled to cope with the enormous crowd and wave after wave of Brazilian attacks. In the 28th minute Uruguay scored a mental victory of sorts when Varela sliced the Brazilian right back Bigode (nicknamed the moustache) and then patted him on the head. The English referee told to reluctantly shake hands and the moment was defused by the Brazilian look rattled and the Uruguay captain punched the badge of his chest running away. It was Uruguay who had the two chances in the first half though with one shot hitting the crossbar and another inches wide towards the end of the first half. 0-0 at half time but the crowd were not too restless yet, they still thought it was a matter of time for the hosts and if the score stood the same they’d be champions anyway.

In the second half it seemed it would go to plan when five minutes in Brazil scored to make it 1-0. A ball from the midfield found Friaca on the right who managed to hold off a defender and score. Brazil could touch the trophy at 1-0. Varela continued to argue with the referee about anything to incite the crowd. Brazil had one more chance halfway through the second half and then started to sit back as per their coach’s instructions. The crowd now grew restless. This wasn’t the Brazil way. They wanted a massacre.

Varela, now with fewer defensive duties, stepped up to augment the attack. On 66 minutes, he slid a pass to the right for Ghiggia, who turned Bigode inside out and tore past the lumbering defender on the outside, before whipping a ball to the near post, where Schiaffino stepped ahead of Juvenal to roof the ball home past goalkeeper Barbosa. 1-1 and Uruguay back in it with 24 minutes to go. Just before the game kicked off again Varela punched the badge on his shirt again letting out a guttural roar.

Ghiggia was a Uruguyan player who had been closely marked by the moustache but got more as the game went on the his Brazilian marker tired. Uruguay’s Perez intercepted the ball from a Brazilian attack. After one-twoing with Miguez, Perez then sashayed to the right, where he executed another one-two, this time with Ghiggia on the halfway line, before slipping a pass down the flank for the winger to chase. Ghiggia had been given the spring on the leaden-footed Bigode, and drifted inside and into the area, homing in on Barbosa. The keeper was in two minds. Should he close Ghiggia down? Thing was, Schiaffino was hovering in the middle. The indecision was fatal. Ghiggia cracked a shot low towards the near post, the ball flying into the bottom-right corner, Barbosa unable to drop to the floor in time to smother. 2-1 Uruguay and over 200,000 silent.

Brazil tried to gather themselves. They had 10 minutes to get an equaliser and thought they could but without the booming crowd cheering their every pass now. They went forward but without conviction as Uruguay now defended stoically and didn’t give Brazil a chance. The crowd grew very restless and threw objects thought banned before the game. With seconds remaining Brazil won a corner and got the ball to the far post where three Brazilians were waiting and could raffle off who would score but somehow the Uruguayan defender Gambetta got the ball first and tried to clear it. The ball didn’t clear and fell down to his feet so Gambetta jumped on it and smothered the ball with his body and hands. Not a bad tactic if you were a goalkeeper but he wasn’t.

In all the commotion the referee had actually blown for full time before he handed the ball so no penalty and Uruguay were somehow champions again. Brazil had been denied a title they had thought was their divine right to win. The Uruguayans took turns to hug and kiss referee Reader. FIFA president Jules Rimet, ushered onto the field by hysterically crying policemen, let the winning captain and man-of-the-match Varela get his hands on the trophy, though he was advised against raising it. Varela made do with going out drinking in Rio that night, the king of Uruguay, the king of Brazil, the king of the world.

Brazilian mourned together as a nation thinking they would never win a World Cup. A large number of suicides were reported and in a slum a middle aged man cried uncontrollably after the game. His young son tried to make his father happy by making the innocent promise that he would make up for his day by winning the World Cup for Brazil and his father..the name of the boy was Edson Arantes do Nascimento better known as ‘Pele’. A remarkable upset and one of the great games in World Cup History. It’s only now in 2014 we return to Brazil to do it all again.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

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