Host nation: Brazil Games: 22 Goals: 88 (4 per match) Dismissals: 0 Venues: 6 Winners: Uruguay Top scorer: Ademir (8 goals)
Thirteen countries headed to the third World Cup – an unlucky number for hosts, favourites and eventual runners-up Brazil, not to mention debutants England, who were beaten 1-0 by a semi-professional USA side. These finals featured no knockout matches, with the four group winners – Brazil, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay – competing in a mini-league to decide the best on the planet. In the decisive match, Brazil needed a draw while Uruguay, who had to win, triumphed 2-1. The result haunted Brazil keeper Barbosa who, 13 years later, held a barbecue to burn the goalposts used during the game. We assume most guests opted for burgers.
Brazil’s scintillating trio of inside-forwards – Ademir (the Golden Boot winner with eight goals), Jair and Zizinho – were ultimately outdone by three great Uruguayans: striker Juan Schiaffino, winger Alcides Ghiggia and inspirational box-to-box midfielder Obdulio Varela (left).
If American centre-forward Joe Gaetjens meant it, his diving header against England was a beauty. Renowned for his aerial audacity, his faint connection with Walter Bahr’s cross-shot diverted the ball past England keeper Bert Williams.
India qualified for the tournament but didn’t turn up. Their absence is usually attributed to FIFA’S refusal to let them play without boots, but in fact the Indian FA just thought the cost of travelling was too steep.
A harbinger of indignities to come, the Three Lions’ shock 1-0 loss to a USA team (far left) who included a postman, dish washer and funeral director was such a surprise that some newspapers thought a typing error meant England had won 10-1.
Against Uruguay, in front of 200,000 roaring fans at the Maracana (top), Brazil were such favourites that Jules Rimet had written his speech before kick-off. After being pulverised for 47 minutes – and going 1-0 down (below) – Uruguay staged the greatest World Cup final upset. As Brazil sat back, hoping to catch their opponents on the counter, captain Varela powered his side forward. Goals from Schiaffino (second from bottom) and Ghiggia silenced the crowd.
Traumatised by the defeat, Brazilians blamed their white kit, which newspaper Correio da Manha claimed suffered from a “psychological and moral lack of symbolism”. Ironically, a Uruguayan illustrator won the competition to design a patriotic new strip. His entry – the iconic yellow shirts with green trim and blue shorts – was meant as a joke.