World Cup memories: U.S. stuns England, 1950

Former American captain Walter Bahr recalls his favourite World Cup memory: the United States' stunning 1-0 upset of England at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
Soccer legend Walter Bahr, left, speaks with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden before an MLS soccer game between D.C. United and the Philadelphia Union on April 10, 2010. (Drew Hallowell, Associated Press)

In an ongoing series, asked players, managers, broadcasters, journalists and fans to recall their favourite World Cup memories.

Next up: Walter Bahr.

Bahr was a longtime captain of the American national team and played in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil when the U.S. stunned England 1-0 in the greatest upset in the tournament's history.

The result was so improbable — the Americans were 500-1 underdogs to win the World Cup — that when word reached back to England, people thought it was a misprint in the newspapers.

"We knew we were up against it at the time [because] England was considered No. 1 in the world," Bahr told "Everybody had similar feelings of 'let's do the best we can and keep it close, keep it respectable.'"

Joseph Gaetjens scored the game's lone goal in the 38th minute on a setup from Bahr, who remembers the moment as if it happened yesterday.

"The goal was something that happens all the time," said Bahr, now 83 and living in Pennsylvania.

"Ed McIlvenny, another midfielder, threw the ball in from the right-hand side to me. I pushed it forward and took a shot from 25 yards out, and it was a good shot that flew to [England goalkeeper] Bert Williams's right.

"Bert moved to stop my shot, which I'm sure he would have handled easily. He moved off his line to get position on it. … Joe somehow got a piece of it, got up in the air and got a piece of it, and it changed the flight of the ball. So Bert was moving to his right and the ball went back towards his left. … He really didn't have a chance."

The U.S. lost its next game, against Spain, and headed home after being eliminated in the first round.

But they could hold their heads high after defeating England in a game that in recent years has been referred to as the Miracle on Grass.

Check back with next week for a full-length feature story on Walter Bahr and the 1950 World Cup game between the U.S. and England.