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Goal/Michael Donald

What did Dick Nanninga and Jorge Brown achieve which Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona did not? Answer: score in a World Cup Final.

In this  book, photographer and writer Michael Donald interviews and photographs those alive of the 54 scorers who have done so. It makes for an absorbing read. Most are humbled by their experience.

The first in time is Alcides Ghiggia [above], who scored in the 1950 final for Uruguay in a game Brazil only had to draw as, for the first and last time, a league system was adopted. So sure were Uruguay of defeat that their delegation left the night before the Final which Brazil  lost 1-2 in the Maracana. Ghiggia scored in the 79th minute.

Next up Pele who scored in the 1958 final. He likes to refer to himself not in the “I ” form but as Pele.

Generally the more interesting stories emanate from the lesser known players – Jorge Brown, scorer in Argentina’s World Cup Final over West Germany in 1986, did not even have a club as he had been discarded by Espanol.

A  few years ago he was en route to Beijing for the Olympics where the competing Argentina World Cup team included Lionel Messi and Javier Maschaerano. They were stuck in Washington Airport and took coffee with the airport staff. At the end of this the staff wanted a photo from which Brown initially wanted to withdraw as he did not think they would know him. One of the staff said “You stay as you’ve achieved something the rest haven’t: you  have scored in a World Cup final”.

Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters are still around. Winning England’s one and only trophy has been something of a financial boost in later life for the England winners. Ball, the youngest aged 19, has passed on but the next in age  were Hurst (25) and Peters (22).

As Geoff Hurst remarks Jimmy Greaves did not wear pads to protect his shins and was gashed on them against France in the second game.

He was injured and Hurst, not a regular fixture in the team, took his place and never lost it. He remains the only player to score a hat-trick. By the 70s Donald has many to interview as they were born from the fifties onwards. Dick Nanninga, only scorer for Holland in their defeat at the hands of Argentina in 1978, became a bathroom salesman and never talked about his World Cup goal. His wife could not even find his medal. A British  player would have auctioned it off.

However before I disappear down the greedy modern footballer route Emmanuel Petit, scorer for France in 1998, won £17,000 in a slot machine in Monte Carlo and gave the whole lot to charity.

He is now an ambassador for a homeless charity.

Although lavishly put together with brilliant photos and a concise text, this is much, much more than  a coffee table book. It’s the type of book you pick up with a decent glass of red to immerse yourself in one of the tales from arguably football’s most exclusive club.

About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts