1938 World Cup History
By now Europe was teetering on the brink of major conflict, and, two years after Hitler had used the Berlin Olympics to glorify Nazism, France was chosen to stage the 1938 World Cup.
Austria's 'Wunderteam' was a notable absentee -- Austria had
been invaded by Germany -- while Spain were also missing,
preoccupied with civil war. England were in conflict with Fifa, and
South America, peeved at not being chosen as host after Italy 1934,
sent only one representative, Brazil.
Asia was represented for the first time, by Indonesia, playing
as the Dutch East Indies, though were quickly on their way home
after losing 6-0 to Hungary in the first round.
Having edged Brazil 2-1 in the semis, Italy, under tough coach
Vittorio Pozzo, lifted the trophy for the second tournament in
succession, defeating Hungary 4-2 in the final at Colombes.
The Hungarians had reached the final by demolishing Sweden 5-1,
despite conceding a goal after only 30 seconds.
Italy captain Giuseppe Meazza was the star of the Italian team,
while Brazil's 'black diamond' Leonidas da Silva finished top
scorer with eight goals, including four in an astonishing 6-5
victory over Poland.
1938 WORLD CUP LEGENDS
Italy: b. 1907, d. 1982
With Giuseppe Meazza, one of only two players to take part in
both of Italy's World Cup winning teams of 1934 and 1938.
Although an inside left he made his debut for Italy against
Switzerland in Rome in 1930 as an inside-right and put the ball
over an empty goal while standing under the bar.
Became the indispensable constructive midfield player in the
Italian side and won 44 caps, although he had to wait a year for
the second of them, and scored 14 goals.
At Juventus he won five consecutive Italian championships and
added another with Inter in 1938.
Leonidas DA SILVA
Brazil: b. 1913, d. 2004
Became known as the Black Diamond in Europe after the 1938 World
Cup when he was leading scorer with eight goals but in Brazil he
was known as O Homen Borracha (the Rubber Man) because of his
Famed for his bicycle kicks, capped 23 times as inside or
centre-forward and ranked alongside Pele by most Brazilians.
He was only 18 when he first played for Brazil and scored twice
against Uruguay in 1932.
A veteran of the 1934 World Cup, he opened his account in the
1938 World Cup with four goals against Poland.
Italy: b. 1910, d. 1979
One of the most complete forwards ever to play for Italy. With
Ferrari was one of only two players to appear for Italy in 1934 and
1938 winning World Cup sides.
Made his debut for Internazionale as a 17-year-old in 1927-28
and scored a dozen goals. The following season he scored 33, a
record he would never surpass, although he got another 31 the next
Superb dribbler and although not tall remarkably good in the
Peppino, as he was nicknamed, made his debut for Italy against
Switzerland at Rome in 1930 and scored twice in a 4-2 win. Made his
name with three goals in a 5-0 win over Hungary in his fourth
international and went on to score a record 33 goals for his
His first 15 caps were won at centre-forward but in 1933 he
played inside right to Angelo Schiavio in a 3-1 win over Germany in
It was a combination which would help them win the World Cup the
Meazza played in every game in that competition, scoring once in
the opening match, a 7-1 victory over the United States, and
getting the vital goal in the bitterly-contested quarterfinal
replay with Spain.
In the 1938 World Cup he played alongside Silvio Piola and
captained Italy to another victory, again playing in every match.
His only goal was a winning penalty in the 2-1 semifinal win over
1938 WORLD CUP SCORERS
Leonidas Da Silva (BRA) 8
Gyula Zsengeller (HUN) 7
Silvio Piola (ITA) 5
Gyorgy Sarosi (HUN) 4
Gino Colaussi (ITA) 4
Gustav Wetterstorm (SWE) 4
Ernst Willimowski (POL) 4
1938 WORLD CUP TRIVIA
- Disappointed fans attacked the Argentine Football Federation
offices in Buenos Aires after Argentina pulled out of the
competition when their application to host the event was rejected.
- For the first time both France as the hosts and Italy, the
holders, were exempted from the qualifying rounds.
- Austria's 'Wunderteam' was plundered by Germany following
Hitler's takeover in Vienna. However, it did the Germans little
good -- they lost in a first round replay 4-2 to Switzerland.
- Out of 25 entries, 15 nations contested the finals, with eight
again being seeded and one, Sweden, receiving a bye into the
- Brazil's quarterfinal clash with Czechoslovakia in Bordeaux
degenerated into violence, with two Brazilians and one Czech sent
- France became the first hosts to lose a match when Italy beat
them 3-1 in the quarterfinals.
- Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini sent a telegram to
coach Vittorio Pozzo before the final saying: "Win or die."
- Luckily Italy won, and Pozzo became the first coach to win the
trophy twice following the 1934 success. Giuseppe Meazza and
Giovanni Ferrari became the first players to win consecutive
- There was not another tournament for 12 years because of World
The Jules Rimet Trophy survived the hostilities, hidden under
the bed of an official of the Italian Football Association.
1938 WORLD CUP WINNING SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Carlo Ceresoli, Guido Masetti, Aldo Olivieri
Defenders: Alfredo Foni, Eraldo Monzeglio, Pietro Rava
Midfielders: Michele Andreolo, Aldo Donati, Mario Genta, Ugo
Locatelli, Renato Olmi, Mario Perazzolo, Pietro Serantoni
Forwards: Sergio Bertoni, Amedeo Biavati, Bruno Chizzo, Gino
Colaussi, Giovanni Ferrari, Pietro Ferraris II, Guiseppe Meazza
(capt) Pietro Pasinati, Silvio Piola
Coach: Vittorio Pozzo