Uruguay’s ‘Maracanazo’ Legend Alcides Ghiggia Dies

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Uruguayan footballer Alcides Ghiggia, ‘Maracanazo’ herodied yesterday at age 88. He was the last surviving La Celeste player from the match and in a poetic coincidence, he died on the 65th anniversary of the epic game.

“Only three people have ever silenced the Maracana: The Pope, Frank Sinatra and me,” he once famously said in reference to his famous goal against Brazil in 1950. The goal gave Uruguay their second – and last – World Cup title. His feat was so celebrated in Uruguay, that when he turned 80 more than half a century after the goal, he received a special honor by the Uruguayan congress. That’s what you call historic memory.

Ghiggia was born Dec. 22, 1926, and quickly emerged as a right winger who could out-run any defense. He started his professional career with the famous Uruguay club Peñarol and later played in Italy with Roma and AC Milan. Because of his Italian roots (and no FIFA prohibition) he also played several matches with the Italian national team.

The final round of the 1950 World Cup had 4 teams and it was played in round robin style. Brazil had destroyed Spain and Sweden 6-1 and 7-1 respectively, while Uruguay had barely been able to escape with a 2-2 tie against Spain, managing a victory in the last minutes of the game against Sweden.

The final celebration was set in the Maracaná Stadium. The game against Uruguay was supposed to be nothing more than a formality before Brazil claimed their first World Title, but their tiny southern neighbors had other plans.

The famous Garra Charrúa appeared, and it would be Alcides Ghiggia, 11 minutes before the game ended, who put a stop to the Samba music and wrote one of the most memorable moments of in soccer.

Alcides Ghiggia might have left this world yesterday, but his footprints will forever remain in the world of fútbol.