The 1958 FIFA World Cup A Tournament of Firsts and Legends

The 1958 FIFA World Cup, held in Sweden, marked a significant chapter in the history of international football. It was a tournament filled with remarkable moments, emerging talents, and notable firsts. This World Cup, the sixth edition of the tournament, set the stage for Brazil’s dominance in the footballing world and introduced the globe to a 17-year-old prodigy named Pelé. This article delves into the details of the 1958 World Cup, highlighting its significance and legacy.


Preparation and Host Selection

The journey to the 1958 FIFA World Cup began years earlier. FIFA’s decision to award the tournament to Sweden was influenced by the country’s strong football infrastructure and the ability to host an event of such magnitude. Sweden had never hosted the World Cup before, making it an exciting prospect for the Scandinavian nation. The Swedish Football Association, in collaboration with FIFA, undertook extensive preparations to ensure that the event would be a success. Stadiums were upgraded, transportation networks were enhanced, and logistics were meticulously planned to accommodate the influx of teams and fans from around the world.

Format and Teams

The format of the 1958 FIFA World Cup was relatively straightforward. Sixteen teams qualified for the tournament, divided into four groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each group would advance to the knockout stage. The qualifying rounds saw some surprising outcomes, with traditional powerhouses like Italy and Spain failing to secure spots in the tournament. The absence of these teams was a testament to the growing competitiveness of international football.

The participating teams included Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Hungary, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Paraguay, Scotland, Soviet Union, Sweden, Wales, West Germany, and Yugoslavia. For the first time, all four British teams (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) qualified for the tournament, highlighting the strength of British football at the time.

Group Stage Highlights

The group stage of the 1958 FIFA World Cup featured several captivating matches and surprising outcomes. In Group 1, the host nation Sweden emerged as the dominant force, winning two of their three matches and drawing one. Sweden’s solid defense and strategic play earned them a place in the quarterfinals. The group also saw the debut of the Soviet Union, which showcased a strong and disciplined team, advancing alongside Sweden.

Group 2 was a tightly contested group, with France and Yugoslavia securing the top two spots. France, led by their prolific striker Just Fontaine, displayed an attacking prowess that made them one of the most exciting teams in the tournament. Fontaine’s goal-scoring ability would become a key feature of the World Cup.

Group 3 featured a strong Brazilian team that included a mix of experienced players and young talents. Brazil topped the group with two wins and a draw, showcasing their flair and creativity on the field. This group also marked the emergence of Pelé, who would go on to become a global football icon.

Group 4 was notable for the performance of West Germany, the reigning champions from the 1954 World Cup. Despite their status, West Germany faced tough competition from Northern Ireland and Czechoslovakia. Northern Ireland, making their World Cup debut, impressed with their resilience and secured a place in the quarterfinals alongside West Germany.

The Rise of Pelé

One of the most enduring legacies of the 1958 FIFA World Cup was the emergence of Pelé. At just 17 years old, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, captivated the world with his extraordinary skills and maturity on the field. His debut in the tournament came in Brazil’s final group match against the Soviet Union. Although he did not score, his performance hinted at the brilliance that was to come.

Pelé truly announced himself on the world stage during the knockout rounds. In the quarterfinal against Wales, he scored the only goal of the match, showcasing his composure and clinical finishing. This goal made Pelé the youngest goal-scorer in World Cup history at the time. However, it was in the semifinals against France that Pelé truly shone, scoring a hat-trick to lead Brazil to a 5-2 victory. His ability to perform under pressure and his sheer talent made him an instant global sensation.

The Knockout Stage

The knockout stage of the 1958 FIFA World Cup was marked by thrilling encounters and high drama. In the quarterfinals, Brazil faced Wales, a team that had performed admirably in their World Cup debut. The match was closely contested, but Pelé’s goal made the difference, sending Brazil into the semifinals.

Another notable quarterfinal match was between France and Northern Ireland. France’s attacking prowess, led by Just Fontaine, proved too much for Northern Ireland, and the French team secured a 4-0 victory. Fontaine continued his incredible goal-scoring run, adding two more goals to his tally.

The semifinals featured some of the most memorable matches in World Cup history. Brazil faced France in a high-stakes encounter that pitted two of the tournament’s best attacking teams against each other. The match lived up to expectations, with Brazil emerging victorious with a 5-2 win, thanks to Pelé’s hat-trick and a stellar performance from the entire Brazilian team.

The other semifinal saw Sweden take on West Germany. The host nation, buoyed by the support of their home crowd, put on a dominant display, defeating the reigning champions 3-1. This victory secured Sweden’s place in the final and set the stage for an epic showdown against Brazil.

The Final: Brazil vs. Sweden

The final of the 1958 FIFA World Cup, held on June 29 at the Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm, was a highly anticipated match. Brazil, with their attacking flair and youthful exuberance, were favorites to win. Sweden, on the other hand, had the advantage of playing on home soil and had displayed remarkable consistency throughout the tournament.

The match began with a shock for Brazil as Sweden took an early lead through a goal by Nils Liedholm. However, Brazil quickly responded with a display of attacking brilliance. Vavá scored twice in the first half to give Brazil the lead, showcasing their quick passing and clinical finishing. In the second half, Pelé added two more goals, including a stunning strike that saw him flick the ball over a defender before volleying it into the net. Zagallo also added a goal, sealing a comprehensive 5-2 victory for Brazil.

The final whistle marked a historic moment for Brazil as they won their first World Cup. Pelé, with his dazzling performances, became a global superstar, and his tears of joy as he was lifted onto his teammates’ shoulders became one of the iconic images of the tournament. Brazil’s victory was celebrated not only for the win but also for the beautiful and attacking style of play that they brought to the world stage.

Legacy of the 1958 FIFA World Cup

The 1958 World Cup left an indelible mark on the history of football. It was a tournament of firsts – the first World Cup held in Sweden, the first to feature all four British teams, and, most notably, the first to see Brazil lift the trophy. The tournament also highlighted the globalization of football, with teams from different continents competing at a high level.

Pelé’s emergence as a footballing phenomenon was perhaps the most significant legacy of the tournament. His performances in 1958 laid the foundation for a career that would see him become one of the greatest players of all time. Pelé’s influence extended beyond the football field, as he became an ambassador for the sport and a symbol of hope and inspiration for millions around the world.

The 1958 World Cup also had a lasting impact on the Brazilian national team. The victory instilled a sense of belief and confidence that would propel Brazil to further successes in subsequent World Cups. The team’s emphasis on skill, creativity, and attacking play set a standard for future generations of Brazilian footballers.


Moreover, the tournament was a turning point for international football in terms of tactics and style of play. The success of Brazil’s attacking approach demonstrated that football could be played with flair and creativity while still achieving success. This shift influenced teams and coaches worldwide, encouraging a more dynamic and entertaining style of play.

Here is a detailed table of the teams, their matches, and scores from the 1958 FIFA World Cup:

Group Stage Matches and Scores

1West Germany vs Argentina3-1June 8
1Northern Ireland vs Czechoslovakia1-0June 8
1Argentina vs Northern Ireland3-1June 11
1West Germany vs Czechoslovakia2-2June 11
1West Germany vs Northern Ireland2-2June 15
1Argentina vs Czechoslovakia6-1June 15
2France vs Paraguay7-3June 8
2Yugoslavia vs Brazil1-1June 8
2Brazil vs Austria3-0June 11
2France vs Yugoslavia2-3June 11
2Brazil vs Paraguay3-0June 15
2Austria vs Soviet Union0-2June 15
3Sweden vs Mexico3-0June 8
3Hungary vs Wales1-1June 8
3Sweden vs Hungary2-1June 11
3Wales vs Mexico1-1June 11
3Sweden vs Wales0-0June 15
3Hungary vs Mexico4-0June 15
4Soviet Union vs England2-2June 8
4Brazil vs Austria3-0June 11
4Soviet Union vs Austria2-0June 15
4Brazil vs England0-0June 17
4Soviet Union vs Brazil0-2June 19
1958 FIFA World Cup

Quarterfinal Matches and Scores

Sweden vs Soviet Union2-0June 19
France vs Northern Ireland4-0June 19
Brazil vs Wales1-0June 19
West Germany vs Yugoslavia1-0June 19
1958 FIFA World Cup

Semifinal Matches and Scores

Brazil vs France5-2June 24
Sweden vs West Germany3-1June 24
1958 FIFA World Cup

Third Place Playoff

France vs West Germany6-3June 28
1958 FIFA World Cup

Final Match

Brazil vs Sweden5-2June 29
1958 FIFA World Cup

This table provides a comprehensive overview of the matches and scores throughout the 1958 FIFA World Cup, showcasing the key results that led to Brazil’s ultimate victory.

See Also: The Miracle of Bern How the 1954 FIFA World Cup Changed Football Forever


The 1958 FIFA World Cup was a landmark event in the history of football. It showcased the rise of Brazil as a footballing powerhouse, introduced the world to the genius of Pelé, and set new standards for the sport. The tournament was filled with memorable moments, thrilling matches, and exceptional performances that have left a lasting legacy. As we look back on the 1958 World Cup, it is clear that it was a pivotal moment that shaped the future of football and cemented the tournament’s status as the pinnacle of international sport.

FAQs About the 1958 FIFA World Cup

1. Where was the 1958 FIFA World Cup held?

The 1958 FIFA World Cup was held in Sweden.

2. How many teams participated in the 1958 World Cup?

Sixteen teams participated in the tournament.

3. Which teams qualified for the 1958 World Cup?

The teams were Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Hungary, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Paraguay, Scotland, Soviet Union, Sweden, Wales, West Germany, and Yugoslavia.

4. Which team won the 1958 World Cup?

Brazil won the 1958 World Cup.

5. Who was the standout player of the 1958 World Cup?

Pele, the 17-year-old Brazilian forward, was the standout player, emerging as a global football sensation.

6. What was significant about Pele’s performance in the 1958 World Cup?

Pele scored crucial goals, including a hat-trick in the semifinals against France and two goals in the final against Sweden. He became the youngest player to score in a World Cup match at that time.

7. How did Sweden perform in the 1958 World Cup?

Sweden, the host nation, performed admirably and reached the final, where they were defeated by Brazil.

8. What was the format of the 1958 World Cup?

The 1958 World Cup had a group stage followed by knockout rounds. Sixteen teams were divided into four groups of four, with the top two from each group advancing to the quarterfinals.

9. Which team did Brazil defeat in the final, and what was the score?

Brazil defeated Sweden in the final with a score of 5-2.

10. Who were the top goal scorers of the tournament?

Just Fontaine of France was the top scorer of the tournament with 13 goals, a record that still stands for the most goals scored in a single World Cup.

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