Sweden 2-5 Brazil
29 June 1958
World Cup Final
Rasunda Stadium, Solna
Scorers: Vava (2), Pele (2), Zagallo (Brazil); Liedholm, Simonsson (Sweden)
The 1958 World Cup tournament culminated in the first ever combined WC final / UFWC title match. This was the first World Cup to be broadcast on worldwide television, and those who tuned in were lucky enough to witness the birth of a classic Brazilian side, and the introduction of a genuine footballing legend. In fact, make that two genuine footballing legends. For alongside the great Pele in the Brazilian ranks was the arguably greater Garrincha.
Argentina took the UFWC title into the World Cup tournament, but lost 3-1 to West Germany in their first game. The Germans held on until the semi-finals, when they were beaten by hosts Sweden. The Swedes had rebuilt their side for the tournament, following a rule change that allowed veteran pros Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm to return to the side after an 11-year hiatus, aged 37 and 35 respectively.
Grumblings over the Scandinavian side’s inclusion of professionals led to the match being billed as the Swedish mercenaries versus the Brazilian magicians. But it was a piece of Swedish magic that kicked the game into life. With just three minutes on the clock, Liedholm collected a pass from Gren and made a spectacular surge through the Brazilian rearguard. Riding challenge after challenge, Liedholm retained control and fired a powerful shot from the edge of the area across Brazilian keeper Gilmar and into the net.
The strike was later described by Pele as the best ever scored against his side. It was the first time Brazil had been behind in the tournament, but any questions about whether they would fold or fight were swiftly answered.
First Garrincha put in two low crosses and Vava provided two sliding finishes for a pair of remarkably similar goals. Then, in the second half, 17-year-old Pele made his mark on the world game, taking the ball on his chest, flicking it over a defender, and volleying it home in inimitable style. Mario Zagallo scored Brazil’s fourth, managing to apply a finish to his own corner kick after the Swedes failed to properly clear their lines.
Gren set up Agne Simonsson to pull one back with ten minutes to play, but there was to be no way back for Sweden. In the final minute, Pele started and finished a move that saw him head home Zagallo’s looping cross. Pele, Garrincha and Brazil were the World Cup and UFWC champions, and indisputably the best team in the world.
We’re getting in the mood for the 2014 World Cup Finals with a series of classic UFWC/WC crossover matches. As it stands, current UFWC champions Uruguay are on course to take the title to Brazil, although they have a couple of tricky title matches to negotiate first. If they get there, they’ll have the chance to unify the unofficial and official football titles. Current Paddy Power World Cup odds make Uruguay an attractive 25/1 to win the World Cup. UFWC followers will know that Uruguay are in decent form, and might fancy a flutter.
We’ll be remembering more of the best UFWC title matches as Brazil 2014 draws nearer. For more classic matches from the UFWC archives check out the brand new edition of the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions, which is out now.