By Patricia Avila and Malena Castaldi
Alcides Ghiggia, the Uruguayan striker who silenced the Maracana at the 1950 World Cup final by scoring the winner against Brazil, died of a heart attack at the age of 88 on Thursday, the 65th anniversary of Uruguay’s famous win.
The stunning 2-1 victory over Brazil gave Uruguay their second World Cup title and it remains one of the most talked about results of all time.
He was the last surviving member of that triumphant side.
“He came in this morning with a sore back and they hospitalised him,” his son, Arcadio, told a Uruguayan television station. “He was talking to me about football and suddenly he stopped. They tried to revive him but to no avail.”
Hosts Brazil needed just a draw in the final match of the competition to lift the World Cup for the first time and they scored the opening goal through Friaca.
Juan Schiaffino equalised for Uruguay before Ghiggia, then just 23, grabbed the winner 11 minutes from time to silence a capacity crowd of 174,000.
“It was the first time in my life that I heard something that wasn’t noise,” Schiaffino once said of Ghiggia’s goal. “I felt the silence. It felt like everything had ended.”
Ghiggia began his career at the Sudamerica club before moving to Penarol, one of Uruguay’s biggest teams.
Fast and agile, he moved to Italy and played for Roma and Milan before eventually returning to his homeland and ending his career at Danubio.
While some felt he never got the recognition his talent deserved at the time, he later became an icon for Uruguayans, who admired his quiet grace.
He was given a standing ovation by 60,000 fans before Uruguay’s World Cup play-off match against Jordan in 2013 and was invited by FIFA to help with the draw for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
“July 16 had to be the day that Alcides left us,” former Uruguay captain Diego Lugano Tweeted.
“Thank you for watering our soil with glory. You will be remembered for all eternity. Safe travels champ!”