Uruguay was the host country of the first World Cup games ever. Thirteen countries participated in the tournament: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay from South America, Mexico and the United States from Central and North America, and Belgium, Romania, Yugoslavia and France from Europe. All games were played at one single venue: in Montevideo.
In the Final Game, Uruguay took the lead versus Argentina through a goal scored by Pablo Dorado. Argentina equalized only eight minutes later through Carlos Peucelle and even took the lead through a goal scored by Guillermo Stabile. Early in the second half, Uruguay's Pedro Cea tied the game again. Santos Iriarte and Hector Castro scored the third and fourth goal for Uruguay's 4-2 victory over Argentina.
For the first time in World Cup history, qualifying rounds were played to decide which of the 32 applying teams would eventually be part of the 16 teams participating in the tournament, played in a knockout format all the way through.
In the final game, the spectators had to wait until the 70th minute for the first goal to be scored: Antonin Puc sent the Czech team into the lead. Ten minutes later, Raimundo Orsi brought the game to a tie and sent the game into overtime. Angelo Schiavio's score in the 95th minute marked the victory for host country Italy.
36 countries entered the third World Cup, with 15 teams proceeding to the Final Stage in France.
Defending champion Italy faced Hungary in the Championship Game. Hungary had made its way through the tournament in such a impressive manner that the odds for the title win were entirely in their favour. However, Italy took a surprising 3-1 half-time lead and left the field after the standard playing time of 90 minutes as the old and new champion, having defeated Hungary 4-2.
After World War II, Brazil was the proud host of the 4th World Cup. Then, for the first time, participants of the World Cup were also the British countries who had boycotted previous World Cups. 13 teams in total had lined up to fight for the coveted FIFA World Cup trophy.
The tournament format involved two series of round-robin play, with Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, and Brazil progressing. It was finally Uruguay and Brazil to stage one of the most thrilling finals ever played. In front of a crowd of 200,000 people in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium, Brazil opened the scoring but Uruguay fought back and, with two goals scored by captain Obdulio Varela, took the unexpected lead. The tough fight was concluded in the 79th minute, when Alcides Ghiggia scored the final goal to mark Uruguay's 3-1 victory over host Brazil.
Outsider West Germany beat Hungary in the Final Game 3-2, although Hungary had defeated the same country during a first round game.
Everybody believed Hungary to emerge victorious out of the final match, hence to nobody's surprise took the expected lead with scorings by Ferenc Puskas and Zoltan Czibor in the early minutes of the game (minutes 6 and 8). But West Germany matched that score and, six minutes from time, Helmut Rahn marked West Germany's championship.
The Brazilian team was the undisputed superstar of the 1958 World Cup, with their 17-year-old wonder boy Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as "Pele", being the center of everyone's attention.
Brazil swept through group play, defeating the Welsh team in the quarter finals and sweeping France away with 5-2 in the semi finals.
Host country Sweden had to face Brazil in the final. Brazil, being at the peak of the soccer world, never let Sweden the tiniest chance and beat them 5-2, the highest score ever achieved in a World Cup final. Pele (2), Vava (2) and Zagalo marked the five goals for the new World Champion from South America.
52 teams, more than ever before, tried to qualify for the games, with 15 eventually travelling to Chile to join the host nation. Defending champion Brazil was the favourite again.
With Pele being member of the Brazilian team, again, this time Garrincha was Brazil's star. Not only did he score two goals in the 3-1 victory over England in the Quarter Final, he scored two more and assisted a third in the semi-final win over Chile.
In the championship game, Czechoslovakia took a 1-0 lead, but Brazil fought back with Amarildo, Zito, and Vava marking Brazil's 3-1 victory to successfully defend the World Championship title.
England, the inventor of the modern soccer game, at last hosted the World Cup on the island in 1966. The tournament was a thriller from start to finish.
England played West Germany in the final game. Only seconds before the official play time was called off, Germany scored its second goal to a 2-2 tie and send the game into overtime. A controversial goal from Geoff Hurst marked England's 3-2 lead in overtime, and it was Hurst again to mark the final 4-2 score just seconds before the 30 minutes overtime play was concluded.
Although it was Brazil to celebrate their third World Cup championship - which earned them the right to keep the much coveted World Cup Trophy, designed by Jules Rimet, for good, it was a different match that was discussed most after conclusion of the tournament: Italy's semi-final win over Germany.
With Germany tying the score at 1-1 with only seconds to go in overtime, a real thriller took place in the 30 minute long overtime period. Germany took the lead only after five minutes, but Italy struck back twice and saw itself already as the winner of the game. Germany, however, levelled the score again, before Gianni Rivera finally won it for Italy.
In the championship match, Brazil presented itself as the undisputed championship candidate and beat Italy 4-1.
1974 was the year of the Netherlands, led by the great Johan Cruyff. Facing host country West Germany in the championship game, the Netherlands took a 1-0 lead in the very first minute. Johan Cruyff had been brought down in the penalty area, and Johan Neeskens executing the penalty kick left German's goal keeper Sepp Meier without any chance. The Germans, led by Franz Beckenbauer, fought back to equalize in the 25th minute - again with a penalty kick.
The winning goal was marked two minutes before half time by Gerd Mueller, who turned on a ball in the penalty area and fired a low shot into the net.
The Netherlands, this time without Johan Cruyff, fought its way to the championship game where it met host country Argentina.
In the 38th minute, Argentina took the lead with a goal scored by Mario Kempes, but the Netherlands levelled the game via a heading goal by substitute Dick Nanninga.
14 Minutes in overtime, Kempes again put Argentina ahead, and with only five more minutes to go, Daniel Bertoni took all hopes away from the Dutch with marking the third goal for Argentina.
For the first time ever, the World Cup 1982 in Spain accommodated 24 teams and was played in as many as 14 different sites.
Two well known soccer giants made it to the final game: West Germany, who had defeated France in a nerve-racking penalty kick shoot-out in the semi final match, and Italy, who had eliminated Brazil (3-2) and Poland (2-0).
It took until the second half of the championship game until the first goal was scored. Then, Italy - who had dominated the game all along - took a 3-0 lead. West Germany scored one goal back, but Italy's three goals were out of reach for the Germans. With their championship win, Italy joined Brazil in being the second country to celebrate three World Cup victories.
After having staged the World Cup in 1970, Mexico became the first country to host two World Cups. Mexico was awarded to host the 1986 games after Colombia had pulled out as the host.
Argentina had a strong come back during the tournament, outshining even the favourite Brazilian team. After eliminating England 2-1 in the quarter final, and Belgium 2-0 in the semi final, Argentina faced West Germany, who had made it to the Final the third time since 1974. Diego Maradona was the most admired player of the tournament, and he drove his team to a 2-0 lead against the Germans. However, Germany fought back and leveled the game with two goals scored in the 74th and 81st minute.
When everyone saw Germany dominate the match in the last 30 minutes, it was Argentina to leave the field as the new champion. Maradona had set Jorge Burruchaga free to score the winning 3rd goal in the 83rd minute for the South Americans.
The 1990 World Cup final in Italy saw a re-staging of the final pairing of four years earlier: Argentina faced Germany again. Only this time the Germans were the ones to send Argentina as the defeated team off the field. Germany's 1-0 victory marked the third win of a World Cup Championship, with Germany joining Brazil and Italy as the third three-time winner of the World Cup tournament.
The undisputed darling team of the Italy games was Cameroon. Headed by 39 year old forward Roger Milla, Cameroon was the first African team to play a serious role in a World Cup tournament. Celebrating a completely unexpected victory over defending champion Argentina in the Opening Game -- during the 1990 World Cup, Argentina was at no point able to repeat its glorious play presented four years ago -- Cameroon only was stopped in the quarter final when it lost to England in overtime.