21 facts you never knew about the World Cup

Tim Cahill celebrates after the World Cup Qualifier Match at the MCG in June, 2009. Photo: Justin McManus.
Tim Cahill celebrates after the World Cup Qualifier Match at the MCG in June, 2009. Photo: Justin McManus.

 1. The tournament has been held 18 times since 1930, however, only seven different nations have lifted the trophy.

2. No country from outside South America or Europe has ever won the World Cup.

3. Five-time champions Brazil are the only World Cup winners who have not won the title on home soil.

4. Oliver Kahn of Germany is the only goalkeeper to have won the Golden Ball (best player at the tournament) trophy.

5. During the inter-war years, Italian football Chief Ottorino Barassi secretly took the Jules Rimet trophy home from a bank in Rome and kept it under his bed in a shoebox to ensure Hitler and his Nazi troops didn’t find it. There it stayed until the 1950 World Cup.

 6. The largest crowd for a World Cup match was in the 1950 final between hosts Brazil and Uruguay, when 199,954 people filed into the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro (the host venue of this year’s final). Uruguay won the match 2-1.

7. Korea Republic became the best performing Asian nation when it reached the 2002 semi-finals on home soil.

8. Australia will be the lowest-ranked nation at this year’s tournament – the Socceroos currently sit at 59 on FIFA’s world rankings.

9. Tim Cahill is the only Australian player in the current squad to have scored a World Cup goal.

10. In 2010, New Zealand finished the tournament as the only undefeated side after drawing all of its matches. Eventual winners Spain suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in the group stage.

11. In 2002, France became the worst ever defending champions when they were eliminated in the group stages without scoring a goal.

12. In 1994, 42-year-old Roger Milla from Cameroon became both the oldest goal-scorer and oldest player in World Cup history.

13. Sir Viv Richards is the only person to have played in both the FIFA World Cup and the ICC World Cup (cricket).

14. Diego Maradona knocked England out of the 1986 tournament when he punched the ball into the goal. Maradona famously said it was “the hand of God”.

15. Brazil hosted one of the most unique editions of the World Cup in 1950 as it was the only tournament in which the winner was determined by a final group stage, with the final four teams playing in a round-robin format, instead of a knockout stage.

16. During a time dominated by the iconic Brazilian Pele, Just Fontaine won the Golden boot at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden by scoring a total of 13 goals in the tournament. The French striker scored 13 in just six matches -  the highest number of goals ever scored by one player at a single World Cup tournament.

17. Italy's triumph in 1934 is said to be influenced by military leaders seeking propaganda coups. At the time, fascist dictator Mussolini was in power in Italy. Mussolini decided  to have dinner with just the referee and linesman instead of the usual dinner involving players and staff members from both teams on the night before the final. Italy came out victorious as they defeated Czechoslovakia 2-1.

 18. Italy has always been a major contender to lift the trophy in every tournament they have featured in, but while they won back to back World Cups in 1934 and 1938, the Italians had to wait 44 years for their third title.

19. Which player has scored the most goals in a single World Cup match? No, it isn't Pele, Maradona, Gerd Muller or Ronaldo. Oleg Salenko, who represented Russia at the 1994 World Cup finals in USA, scored 5 goals against Cameroon which stands as the record for the most goals by an individual in a World Cup game.

20.  Hungary beat El Salvador 10-1 on June 15,1982 in Elche, Spain, thus recording the biggest scoreline in the tournament finals.

21.  A crowd search by police before 1930’s World Cup final in Uruguay led to the confiscation of 1,600 revolvers.