England kick off their 2010 World Cup campaign at 7.30 pm on Saturday 12th June, at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg against the USA in what should be, in theory anyway, an easy start to their challenge for ultimate World Cup glory in South Africa.
England qualified of course as one of the European Group winners and as such is one of the top eight seeds for the tournament; they are also one of the favourites to win. The USA on the other hand have never been taken that seriously as World Cup contenders, even when the tournament was held in the USA in 1994. Nonetheless, they do have great enthusiasm as well as optimism, something that they have in common with the USA team of 1950, who were the last to face England in the World Cup.
Of course English fans will not want to be reminded of that particular match which was held in Brazil at the ‘Stadium of Independence in Belo Horizonte. Like the upcoming match in Rustenburg, the 1950 encounter was the first match played in England’s Group of that particular tournament. Little did anyone realise that it would become the first match ever to have a film made about its outcome.
The film was based on a book about the match, written by Geoffrey Douglas and named ‘The Game of Their Lives’, but later had its name changed, in typical Hollywood style, to ‘The Miracle Match’. Indeed the outcome of the match, for many was a miracle, but the real truth is that it was a ‘Miracle Result,’ which England fans will certainly not want to see repeated.
The USA in fact won the match by 1-0 and it came at a time when England were one of the favourites to win the tournament. The USA in fact were complete outsiders, similar to the team of today and who will be lining up to face England on 12th June. The betting was also very similar, with England huge odds on to win with the USA very easy to back with long odds against.
The winning goal in the 1950 match was scored by a certain, Joseph Edouard Gaetjens, who was 36 years old and allegedly an illegal immigrant from Haiti.
When news of the score spread to the English press, most newspapers believed the scoreline to be a typing error and reported the match as either a 10-0 or 10-1 success for England. Once the truth actually came out however, the sporting world of the English was thrown into turmoil, because on that very same day the England Cricket Team had lost for the very first time to the West Indies in the Caribbean.
If the World Cup result was not bad enough, the England team went on to lose their next two Group games, to Spain and Chile and were sent packing, very unceremoniously back to England to receive the worst ever welcome home of an English sporting team.
A team that at that time boasted players of the caliber of Sir Stanley Matthews, regarded as the best player in the world, Sir Alf Ramsey, later to manage England to World Cup glory of 1966 as well as Roy Bentley and Stan Mortenson, both amongst the best forwards in the world.
Of course there is absolutely no chance of a repeat of that performance again in South Africa, or is there? England are still regarded as one of the leading nations in World football and whilst American soccer has improved dramatically in the 60 years since that famous victory, the Three Lions are expected to win and anything other than a winning start for Fabio Capello’s men would again be seen as a shock!
By diego_torres from Pixabay