Uruguayan soccer great Alcides Ghiggia dies at 88
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia, the Uruguayan soccer great who scored the late winning goal in a stunning 2-1 victory over Brazil in the final game of the 1950 World Cup, died Thursday. He was 88.
Ghiggia's son, Arcadio, said his father died of a heart attack.
Ghiggia's goal broke a tie in the 79th minute. It gave Uruguay its second World Cup title in a match Brazilians fully expected to win before about 200,000 fans at Rio's Maracana stadium. Even a draw would have given Brazil the title. The loss is still known in Brazil at the ''Maracanazo.''
Ghiggia also set up Juan Schiaffino's tying goal in the second half.
''Only three people have silenced the Maracana,'' Ghiggia once said of the goal. ''The Pope, Frank Sinatra and me.''
He was the last surviving Uruguayan player from the match and poignantly, he died on the 65th anniversary of the game. When he turned 80 he was honored by the Uruguayan congress, still a national hero a half decade later.
''It was a beautiful what happened'' Ghiggia said. ''It filled me with pride and was unforgettable. The biggest moment of my life was at the Maracana.''
Oscar Tabarez, the current coach of Uruguay's national team, said Ghiggia ''meant a lot to Uruguayans.''
''It is impressive what that man did,'' Tabarez said. ''What he did in his life, his leadership and his personality.''
Though he was viewed as the nation's top soccer idol, he played only 12 times for the national team and scored just four goals - all in the 1950 World Cup.
Ghiggia was born Dec. 22, 1926, and quickly emerged as a right winger with pace who could out run defenses. He started his professional career with the famous Uruguay club Penarol. He later played in Italy with Roma and AC Milan. Because of his Italian roots, he also played several matches with the Italian national team.
Ghiggia was visibly overwhelmed when he was honored in 2009 at the Maracana, placing his footprints in a plastic mold along with other greats of the game like Pele, Eusebio and Franz Beckenbauer.
He was outspoken during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when he criticized Uruguay forward Luis Suarez for biting a player. Suarez ''plays well but he has done things that are not normal for a player, nor for a soccer game,'' Ghiggia told The Associated Press. ''I think FIFA can sanction him.''
Associated Press writer Pablo Fernandez in Montevideo contributed to this report.