FIFA World Cup in numbers



Before West Germany’s opponents even touched the ball, Johan Neeskens of the Netherlands scored the quickest goal in a World Cup final in just 88 seconds in 1974. After kicking off, the Netherlands completed 16 passes until the ball reached Johan Cruyff, who confused Berti Vogts and Uli Hoeness to draw the first-ever penalty kick in a World Cup final, which Neeskens converted. Despite the fact that it took 44 years to impose the first penalty, the second one was imposed in just 23 minutes.


Amazingly, it took 60 years for a side to maintain a clean sheet in a World Cup final. West Germany became the first team to do it in 1990, defeating Argentina 1-0 after 27 teams had attempted and failed. Bodo Illgner, a 23-year-old goalkeeper, is still the youngest player to have started in the championship game of international football. One year before Ilgner was even born, England’s Peter Shilton, his opponent in the semifinals, made his Premier League debut for Leicester City!


In 2010, Spain’s second-choice jerseys helped them break a string of 44 years without a nation winning a World Cup final. Following England’s victory over West Germany in red in 1966, Argentina defeated West Germany in green in 1986, West Germany lost to Argentina in dark blue four years later, and France was defeated by Italy in white in 2006.


Hungary’s 30-game unbeaten streak was ended by West Germany’s stunning comeback victory in the 1954 championship game. This streak remained a world record until Diego Simeone, Fernando Redondo, and Gabriel Batistuta helped Argentina break it almost 40 years later. The West Germans came back to win 3-2 after falling behind 2-0 to the Magical Magyars, who had destroyed Die Mannschaft 8-3 in the group stage. The only other occasion a team overcame a two-goal deficit to win a World Cup final still stands.


The enormous age gap between Giuseppe Bergomi and Dino Zoff, teammates for Italy, who were 18 and 40, respectively, in the 1982 championship game, was twenty-two years. The 15 years and 5 months between Pele and Nilton Santos in 1958 was the next-largest age gap between starters from a team that won the World Cup. In 1998, Zinedine Zidane and Frank Leboeuf, France’s youngest and oldest starters, were separated by just four years, five months.


The two players who scored England’s four goals in the 1966 final, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst, each had eight caps prior to the competition. The four Brazilian goal scorers who helped their country win the following World Cup carried 220 caps into Mexico in 1970. Hurst is still the only player to have a hat-trick in the game.


The biggest change between a World Cup-winning side’s starting XIs for their opening and final matches was five players who didn’t start for Brazil in the 1958 final against Austria. During the competition, Djalma Santos, Zito, Garrincha, Pele, and Vava were elevated to the team. Nils Liedholm, 35, made history as the oldest goalie in a World Cup final during the decisive match, while Pele, 17, made history as the youngest. The highest-scoring final in tournament history continues to be Brazil’s 5-2 victory over Sweden.


The only other man to have participated in three World Cup finals is Cafu. In the first half of the match against Italy in 1994, “The Express Train” replaced an injured Jorginho. He also played against France in 1998 and captained the team in the match against Germany in 2002. Pele set a record by winning three World Cups, but due to an injury, he was unable to participate in the 1962 championship game.


The only men to have scored in two World Cup finals are Vava (1958 and 1962), Pele (1958 and 1970), Paul Breitner (1974 and 1982), and Zinedine Zidane (1998 and 2006).


The only athlete to represent two different countries in the World Cup final was Luis Monti. The midfield hardman represented Argentina, his native nation, in a 1930 match against Uruguay and Italy in a 1934 match against Czechoslovakia. Giampiero Combi and Frantisek Planicka made sure both teams had goalie captains in the latter game for the first time ever. (

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