FIFA World Cup Facts

In the run-up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, a look at some facts about previous World Cups.

The FIFA World Cup is the biggest and most important football tournament, it is one that showcases the best the world has to offer. The first World Cup was held in 1930 and has been held every four years since (with the exception of 1942 and 1946). The first tournament involved only 13 teams; since then, it has gone from strength to strength, it now involves a total of 32 teams who have fought hard through qualification just to take their place at what promises to be a fascinating carnival of football. The 2010 World Cup kicks off in South Africa on the 11th June. Anticipation of the tournament is soon to reach fever pitch. What better way to get in the mood than to read some facts and trivia about previous World Cups.

(The FIFA World Cup trophy - Image Source)

1. The only unbeaten team at the 1974 World Cup was Scotland, despite which, they still went out in the first round as their goal difference, from their one win and two draws, was less than both Yugoslavia and Brazil.

2. The youngest player to appear at the World Cup was Norman Whiteside who was 17 years and 41 days old when he took the field for Northern Ireland versus Yugoslavia in 1982.

3. The youngest player to appear in the World Cup Final was Pele who was 17 years and 249 days old when he was part of the Brazil team who beat Sweden 5-2 in 1958.

4. The shortest World Cup career goes to Marcelo Trobbiani of Argentina who spent a grand total of just one minute on the pitch after coming on as a substitute in the 1986 final. It was his only ever appearance at the World Cup.

5. England’s third goal in the 1966 final, irrespective of what some believe, did not cross the line and should not have counted as a goal!

6. The 500th goal in the World Cup finals was scored by Bobby Collins of Scotland during their 3-2 defeat against Paraguay in 1958.

7. Roger Milla, of Cameroon, is the oldest player to feature at the World Cup, he was 42 years and 39 days old when he played against Russia in 1994. He also scored that day to become the oldest goal scorer. Worryingly, a member of the Cameroon delegation claimed that Milla was actually over 46!

8. The first example of a father selecting his son to play at the World Cup happened in 1966 when Uruguay coach Ondino Viera selected son Milton Viera.

9. The only time that East Germany met West Germany in a game of football happened at the 1974 World Cup. East Germany ran out 1-0 victors; West Germany went on to win the World Cup that year!

10. Belgium’s first choice goalkeeper at the 1982 World Cup was Jean-Marie Pfaff but, because of a misdemeanour, he was dropped after their third game. He was replaced by Theo Custers for the next game, but after they had lost by 3 goals to Poland he was never capped again – quite literally ‘Custers’ last stand’.

11. One of the big stars of the 1990 World Cup was Rene Higuita, the Colombia goalkeeper. He would have been one of the big stars of the 1994 World Cup but missed out because he was in jail on charges of kidnapping.

12. The only player to appear at the World Cup finals whilst playing for an Irish club was Patrick Joseph ‘Felix’ Healey. He played for Northern Ireland in 1982 while employed with Irish club Coleraine.

13. The first World Cup match to be televised was the Hungary versus Brazil match on 27th June 1954. Hungary won 4-2.

14. Juan Ignacio Basaguren became the first substitute to score in the World Cup finals when he put the ball in the back of the net during Mexico’s 4-0 victory against El Salvador in 1970.

15. During the 1990 World Cup, the Italian goalkeeper Walter Zenga went an impressive 517 minutes without conceding a goal.

16. Bolivia had to wait a total of 64 years for their first goal at the World Cup finals. They first appeared at the World Cup in 1930 and didn’t qualify again until 1994; Erwin Sanchez scored the goal in a 3-1 loss to Spain.

17. When Brazil took to the field against Yugoslavia at the 1930 World Cup, they did so with a total of 10 players who had never been capped before. Four years later Argentina fielded 10 new caps against Sweden.

18. There was a grand total of 28 red cards dished out at the 2006 World Cup. On the subject of red cards, Argentina’s Claudio Caniggia was sent off at the 2002 World Cup despite not actually playing.

19. Emerson, who was captain of Brazil, missed out on the 2002 World Cup after damaging his shoulder while ‘mucking’ about during training.

20. Scotland have qualified for the World Cup finals on 8 occasions; they have never qualified through from the first rounds. Pretty poor showing but they did score one of the best World Cup goals ever – every cloud has a silver lining.

 The best World Cup goal of all time?

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