Nothing surpasses the World Cup for romance in sport - David slaying Goliath. Everybody’s imagination is captured by it
That certainly was the case at Ayresome Park Middlesbrough, during the 1966 World Cup when North Korea, unsung and unheralded, triumphed 1-0 over Italy packed with superstars such as Mazzola, Rivera and Facchetti.
The goal-scorer? A little fellow called Pak Doo-Ik with a late first-half-goal. Instantly his name became known throughout the world — a hated figure throughout Italy.
Indeed, Italian fans were so irate the soccer authorities opted to fly the team home in the early hours of the morning to Genoa hoping they would avoid public confrontation.
That didn’t happen for they were pelted with fruit and other garbage for the biggest let down since Northern Ireland eliminated them in 1958.
Throughout the next season’s Italian Serie A when international players moved on to the ball they chanted “Ko-re-a! Ko-re-a!”
While this result came as quite a shock, North Korea had indicated their potential in a one-all draw with Chile. And although defeated 3-0 by the Soviet Union, they won the hearts of the public especially in Middlesbrough. After 42 minute Pak Doo-Ik, an inside forward, beat Rivera in a tackle, took the ball forward and swept a cross shot into the net. Joy unlimited.
In his definitive record of the World Cup my colleague Brian Glanville aptly summed up the Koreans by saying: “They played with splendid spirit and refreshing sportsmanship; the kind of professional foul to which the world exposed them clearly filled these straightforward little men with pained surprise.”
Incredibly North Korea, the Cinderella nation, had reached the final stages of the tournament and, in their next match appeared, to be on the verge of another major scalp when they led Portugal 3-0 at Goodison Park, Liverpool, after only 20 minutes. A miracle was required otherwise the conquerors of Brazil in an earlier round, were en-route home in shame like Italy.
Cometh the hour cometh the man. His name? Eusebio, one of the all-time greats of football, born in Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) and known as The Black Panther or The Black Pearl, who scored four goals — two from penalties — in the 5-3 win. This was, unquestionably, one of the finest performance and rescue acts in the history of the World Cup.
And so North Korea went back into oblivion in one of the most isolated, secretive nations on the planet — until they qualified again for South Africa 2010 hoping another Pak Doo-Ik would emerge!