USA draw recalls Belo Horizonte and one of English football's most infamous results

WHEN England meet the United States of America in next summer's World Cup finals, the match will mark the 60th anniversary of one of the most infamous results in English football history.

On 29 June, 1950, at the World Cup finals in Brazil, the largely amateur USA side – captained by Eddie McIlvenney from Greenock – pulled off one of the sport's greatest ever shocks with a 1-0 win against an England side who were installed as co-favourites to win the tournament before the finals began.

Back then, three years before Ferenc Puskas's Mighty Magyars knocked England's lights out at Wembley, the outcome caused a sensation and as the score from the Belo Horizonte stadium flashed across the world on the news wires, disbelieving sports editors assumed a printing error: England had surely won 10-1?

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For today's David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Wayne Rooney, read Stan Mortensen, Tom Finney, Wilf Mannion and Billy Wright. Diamonds all, but in the event, the side proved to be flawed.

So certain were the US squad of a hiding, a handful stayed up the night before the game drinking to their own defeat.

A few hours later, expectations began to change when Haitian striker Larry Gaetjens headed the only goal of the game late in the first half – some say he was ducking out of the way when the ball struck him on the left ear and bounced into the net.

England tried all right, but their forwards were over-eager, snatching at chances and wasting every opportunity that came there way.

They hit the bar and posts perhaps ten times and when Alf Ramsey did get the ball in the net, the goal was disallowed.

Harry Keough, the US defender, would remember in later years that after the final whistle, he told team-mates Walter Bahr and team-mate Pee Wee Wallace: "I feel sorry for these poor bastards. They were so gracious shaking your hand. I told a couple of the English guys that we shouldn't have beaten them. They said, 'No, no. You guys deserve it'."

Mannion was a little more forthright to his England team-mates: "Bloody ridiculous," he famously thundered. "Can't we play them again tomorrow?"

Carried off shoulder high from the field by their new-found Brazilian fans, the US heroes returned to anonymity in their own country. Gaetjens later vanished in Haiti in mysterious circumstances in the 1970s.

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Reactions in England were strong. "Probably the worst ever display by an England team," growled The Times.

The captain Wright admitted: "To be defeated by the United States at football was like the MCC being defeated by Germany at cricket."

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