Uruguayan soc­cer great who scored 1950 World Cup win­ning goal, dies at 88

Cape Breton Post - - IN MEMORIAM -

Al­cides Edgardo Ghig­gia, the Uruguayan soc­cer great who scored the late win­ning goal in a stun­ning 2-1 vic­tory over Brazil in the fi­nal game of the 1950 World Cup, died Thurs­day. He was 88.

Ghig­gia’s son, Ar­ca­dio, said his fa­ther died of a heart at­tack.

Ghig­gia’s goal broke a tie in the 79th minute. It gave Uruguay its sec­ond World Cup ti­tle in a match Brazil­ians fully ex­pected to win be­fore about 200,000 fans at Rio’s Mara­cana sta­dium. Even a draw would have given Brazil the ti­tle. The loss is still known in Brazil at the “Mara­canazo.’’

Ghig­gia also set up Juan Schi­affino’s ty­ing goal in the sec­ond half.

“Only three peo­ple have si­lenced the Mara­cana,’’ Ghig­gia once said of the goal. “The Pope, Frank Si­na­tra and me.’’

He was the last sur­viv­ing Uruguayan player from the match and poignantly, he died on the 65th an­niver­sary of the game. When he turned 80 he was hon­oured by the Uruguayan congress, still a na­tional hero a half decade later.

“It was a beau­ti­ful what hap­pened’’ Ghig­gia said. “It filled me with pride and was un­for­get­table. The big­gest mo­ment of my life was at the Mara­cana.’’

Os­car Tabarez, the cur­rent coach of Uruguay’s na­tional team, said Ghig­gia “meant a lot to Uruguayans.’’

“It is im­pres­sive what that man did,’’ Tabarez said. “What he did in his life, his lead­er­ship and his per­son­al­ity.’’

Though he was viewed as the na­tion’s top soc­cer idol, he played only 12 times for the na­tional team and scored just four goals — all in the 1950 World Cup.

Ghig­gia was born Dec. 22, 1926, and quickly emerged as a right winger with pace who could out run de­fences. He started his pro­fes­sional ca­reer with the fa­mous Uruguay club Pe­narol. He later played in Italy with Roma and AC Mi­lan. Be­cause of his Ital­ian roots, he also played sev­eral matches with the Ital­ian na­tional team.

Ghig­gia was vis­i­bly over­whelmed when he was hon­oured in 2009 at the Mara­cana, plac­ing his foot­prints in a plas­tic mould along with other greats of the game like Pele, Euse­bio and Franz Beck­en­bauer.

He was out­spo­ken dur­ing the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when he crit­i­cized Uruguay for­ward Luis Suarez for bit­ing a player. Suarez “plays well but he has done things that are not nor­mal for a player, nor for a soc­cer game,’’ Ghig­gia told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “I think FIFA can sanc­tion him.’’

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