I’ve been counting down to the World Cup in Russia with occasional fun facts on my radio show about the international football festival.
As I write this, it’s just over 23 days to the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow.
Twenty-three also was the age of Uruguay’s Alcides Ghiggia when he scored the winning goal against host Brazil in the 1950 World Cup final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
A record crowd of 199,854 attended the game, described as the most disappointing match in Brazilian football history.
Ghiggia delivered his decisive goal in the 79th minute, to lift Uruguay to a 2-1 victory over Brazil, and he also delivered a winning quote years later: “Only three people have ever silenced 200,000 people at the Maracana with a single gesture – Frank Sinatra, Pope John Paul II and me.”
The Uruguyan winger was the last surviving player from the game, which came to be known as “Maracanazo,” roughly translated as “The Maracanã Blow.”
Ghiggia died on July 16, 2015, exactly 65 years after scoring his big goal, at the age of 88.