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The Biggest Upset at the World Cup

Updated on December 12, 2018

The Beginning

The First World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay. After three competitions, 1930, 1934 and 1938, it was suspended due to World War II.

It resumed in 1950, when the fourth World Cup was held in a mining town
called Bela Horizonte in Brasil.

Among the teams were the Kings of Football, the English team and the
No Hopers, the one sent by the United States.

The 1950 World Cup

The Brits had won their past 23 games. The players were selected from various professional clubs.

The Americans had no team, and simply pulled a bunch of guys together who knew how to play the game. There was a teacher, a dishwasher, two mailmen, a mill worker, a hearse professional players.

The Belfast Telegram described them as :

“a band of no-hopers drawn from many lands.”

recognising that many were immigrants to the United States.

The Brits were certain of winning so rested their star player, Stanley Matthews.
At the time he was regarded as the best player in the world.

The newly appointed American coach, Bill Jeffrey, was full of "confidence".
But told a British reporter,We have no chance.”

The First Half

The match began with England playing an attacking game. However, the American
goalkeeper, Frank Borghi,who had played minor league baseball as a catcher, (and now drove a hearse in St. Louis) defended well.

With less than 10 minutes to go in the first half, an American midfielder, Walter Bahr, centered a ball from 25 yards out, and Haitian-born forward, Joe Gaetjens, scored with a diving header.

The first half ended England 0 the United States 1


During the second half, England tried everything, taking shots from all parts of the pitch. Nothing got past Borghi.

The match ended; England 0 US 1.

The No-Hopers had defeated the Kings of Football

The 30,000 Brazilians who had come to the Match loved every second, as a British loss would help their standing.

Gaetjens, (who would return to Haiti and be disappeared), was carried off the field in celebration.

English fans could not believe the Americans had beat them. When the score was broadcase, newspaper editors in London assumed it was a typing error and printed the result as “10-1, England.”

In America, as usual when it came to Football, no one cared. Only one American journalist had traveled to Brazil for the World Cup,: Dent McSkimming, of the St. Louis Dispatch, who paid his own way.


After the upset, both teams were quickly eliminated and Uruguay went onto win the 1950 World Cup.

The Brits couldn't believe what happened, however, America ignored this 'miracle on the green' as the world called it.

On June 12, 2010, the teams met again at the World Cup in Rustenburg, South Africa.

The match between England and America ended in a draw.


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