The second FIFA World Cup found hosts Italy up against Czechoslovakia in the final. Eight minutes from the end the Czechs were 1-0 up when Italy’s Orsi receiving the ball from Guaita, ran through the Czech defence feinted with his left foot but shot with his right. The ball swerved wildly for some reason and curled past the outstretched goalkeeper and into the net. Italy scored again in extra time to take the trophy.
The following day Orsi, dapper in freshly pressed team football kit, tried 20 times to repeat his ball-bending trick for the benefit of photographers and failed, even with an empty net!
More than likely due to the intensity of the game the ball became slightly distorted by the end of the match, which may have caused the swerve rather than entirely due to Orsi’s skill!
Cup-holders Italy this time faced the majestic Hungarians in the final in Paris.
The Italians were dynamic, employing modern tactics that left the Hungarians looking static although they did manage to score two goals. Some fine midfield and wing play had put Italy 3-2 up when, ten minutes from the end following some skilful inter passing, Biavati back-heeled a pass to centre-forward Piola, who smashed it into the goal to make it 4-2.
France was at war a year later and there would be no more FIFA World Cups for 12 years. As in the two previous finals, the 12-panel ball would have come from local suppliers and would have been of brown leather.
World War 2
World War took precedence over World Cup. Everybody was so busy killing each other, they even forgot about soccer and two WC series were missed. The World Cup resumed in 1950, shooting balls instead of canons.
The first post-war finals in Brazil in 1950 still saw the use of the traditional 12-panel ball, but with curved edges to create less stress on the seams. Again, the balls used in the finals would have been made by a local manufacturer.
If ever there was a world shaking match it was the legendary match in Belo Horizonte when the heavyweights of England played the minions United States. In those days, football or “soccer” was very much a minority sport in the USA and when the paltry Americans dressed in their up-beat football team kits beat the English 1-0, the entire football world was in uproar.
Such was the magnitude of the occasion that the ball was kept as a souvenir and it can still be seen in the Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York State in the US of A. In the final the hosts Brazil were devastated to be beaten 2-1 by rivals Uruguay, who were the first hosts in 1930, when they beat Argentine in the final, this was their 2nd trophy in 4 series, serious.
Hungary were two goals up within eight minutes in the final in Berne, but remarkably Germany FR had equalised within another eight. Pouring rain drenched the players and the crowd during the game but German goalkeeper Turek was in fine form, making save after save on the slippery pitch.
Five minutes from the end, Schaefer crossed the ball into a crowded goalmouth and it eventually reached Rahn, who controlled it, advanced, seemed to pause and then drove it past Hungarian goalkeeper Grosics with his left foot.
in retrospect, had Hungary’s Puskas their left-footed striker been fully fit Hungary might have won, so what, the result is history.
The Magnificent Magyars lost only one match between 1950 and 1954, and it was the most important match of all, shame. The 18-panel ball made it’s first appearance in Switzerland and was used, in various forms, until 1966. Keep visiting this website and blog for the rest of the WC Balls series presented by Soccer Kits, the suppliers of team football kits.