In just eight days time, the 20th World Cup Finals will kick off at the Arena de São Paulo in Brazil. This is not, however, the first time the South American nation has hosted the beautiful game's showpiece event — they also enjoyed that honor in 1950, when 12 visiting teams joined them in six venues for the fourth edition of the competition.
Here are some of the best archive images and stories from that summer 64 years ago...
This is the Uruguay national team posing for a team photo on the field of the Maracanã, moments before facing Brazil in the final match of the 1950 World Cup (this wasn't technically the "final" as the tournament was in a round robin format, but it was the deciding game).
The vast majority of the 200,000 fans would have been backing hosts Brazil, but the visitors caused one of the biggest upsets in football history by pulling off an unexpected 2-1 win.
Here's Uruguay's Juan Schiaffino scoring his 66th minute equalizer past goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa in glorious technicolor.
Uruguyan winger Alcides Ghiggia — pictured above doing the 1950s version of warming up — scored the 79th minute goal that devastated the hosts. The game is referred to locally as the "Maracanaço" ("Maracana Blow") and its ghost will loom large over the hosts this summer.
A 10-year-old Pele apparently saw his father crying after the match, at which point the youngster offered some comforting words: "Don't worry, one day I'll win it." Eight years later, he did exactly that.
The Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro will host this year's Final, just as it did in 1950. The stadium was built for the original tournament, but construction was only started in August 1948 (a similar two-year lead time to that given to several of the host venues in the current tournament). When the World Cup came around, the venue was still being built and, incredibly, it wasn't actually fully completed until 1965.
Clearly, old habits die hard.
Exact attendance figures are not available for any of the matches at the Maracanã because so many fans were able to sneak in through the unfinished stands.
The folks above should have been wearing hard hats as they made their way in to see Brazil host Mexico in the tournament opener.
Here, a journalist on the side of the pitch during Brazil's 4-0 win over Mexico uses a walkie talkie. There's no one listening on the other end, he's just trying to look cool.
There may have been record-breaking crowds in Rio, but many other games had surprisingly low attendances. Uruguay's 8-0 win over Bolivia on July 2nd at the Estádio Independência in Belo Horizonte was witnessed by only 6,000 fans.
Only around 30,000 supporters came to the Maracanã for England's 2-0 win over Chile.
Aside from the fabled final, the other shocking game from the 1950 edition was England's meeting with the USA. The Three Lions were heavy favorites to beat an American side made up of part-time players and a few hastily assembled non-US citizens, such as a Haitian striker named Joe Gaetjens.
In the 38th minute, Gaetjens scored the only goal of the game from a header. The concept of losing to the Rebel Colonies was such a shock that several newspapers back in England assumed the score was erroneous and reported it as either a 10-0 or 10-1 victory.
In the picture above, England captain Billy Wright exchanges a souvenir with his American counterpart Ed McIlvenny before the game.
Both England and the USA were subsequently eliminated from the tournament, with Spain defeating both to finish top of the group. Here's the England team arriving back on the tarmac at London Heathrow on July 10th 1950, back when people were allowed to stand on the wings of a plane on the runway. The good old days.
Expect to see a similar photo in a few weeks time, but with less wing standing and more Beats headphones and tattoos.
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