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When Pele Broke Our Hearts: Wales & the 1958 World Cup [Paperback]

Mario Risoli , John Charles
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

12 Dec 1998
1958 was the last time that Wales qualified for the World Cup, and on that occasion they were knocked out by Brazil and Pele's first ever World Cup goal. This text tells the story of Wales's involvement in the competition and is based on interviews with all the surviving members of the Welsh squad.

Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: St David's Press; Limited edition (12 Dec 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860570259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860570254
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 13.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 828,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


terrific...a lovely story, well told and, best of all, you don't have to be Welsh to enjoy it The Sunday Times a brilliant book...a thoroughly good read...I warmly recommend it Adrian Chiles Radio 5 Live a great tale, diligently researched and well told GQ Magazine excellent...an intriguing story, compellingly told Four Four Two If you were to write a surreal football comedy script tinged with pathos, personal tragedy, heroism, politics, adventure and endeavour, you couldn't begin to emulate the story of Wales in 1958...well-crafted...meticulously researched Total Football A beautifully written and expertly researched book, which gives an insight into Wales' greatest football triumph Nicky Wire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mario Risoli is a journalist and author. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Who would have thought that the Welsh national side ever qualfied for a tournament,after this there were a couple of times that Wales almost qualified but always missed out by a toothcomb the recent ones being Romania at home in 93 and Russia in the Euro play-offs in 2003.

Onto the review I first read this book after borrowing it from a friend and reading it was very interesting how disorganised and naive the FAW were back then (sounds like now) I mean they didn't know most of the players and they booked their flights back early because they thought that Wales would not make it to the quarter finals.

It was also good reading about manager Jimmy Murphy who was Bubsy's assistant at Man utd who missed out from being killed in the Munich air disaster as he went to manage Wales in the play-off qualifier against Israel and John Charles almost missing the tournament due to the Italian FA wanting him to play a Italian pre season competition as Italy did not qualify that year.

What probably makes things hard to swallow was that we lost against Brazil by one goal with John Charles injuried and that when Wales returned they were not given a heros welcome home, most of the Welsh public didn't even know they were in the world cup.

Recommended for any Welsh football fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous 24 Feb 2013
By Maxi
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A brilliant story for all football fans. Really great gift that can be passed around. Loads of good input from players.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3.0 out of 5 stars Distant Heroes 12 July 2013
By Charlie Bartel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
1958 was the first and (so far) only World Cup where all 4 British Associations (Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales) qualified for the finals. WHEN PELE BROKE OUR HEARTS is the story of Wales participation at their only World Cup. It is a story of heroes who dared to reach for the sun.

Wales was one of the smallest countries in Europe to try and qualify for the World Cup finals. They seemed to have fallen short when an unexpected decision from FIFA gave them a second chance to make the final field of 16. They seized this opportunity and made the final field. All along the way their administrators did everything in their power to sabotage their efforts. Welsh football administrators dictated they could only take a squad of 18 when FIFA rules allowed a nation up to 22 players. When injuries took the team apart, the squad paid for this ridiculous decision. Capable players were not chosen because of religious bigotry or the singing of Broadway show tunes on the team coach. Meanwhile 16 administrators/selectors made the trip, all traveling together, while the players were scattered on different flights.

Cliff Jones, Jack Kelsey, Ivor (the Golden Boy) Allchurch, and the gentile giant John Charles were the core of the team, and among the best players in Europe. But the biggest hero of all was team manager Jimmy Murphy. Murphy, the assistant to Matt Busby at Manchester United was doing double duty when in February 1958 (4 months before the final) the United charter flight crashed taking off from Munich killing more than 20 (including 9 players) and hospitalizing Matt Busby for months. That meant Murphy had to run United through a dramatic FA Cup run while preparing Wales for the World Cup.

There are moments of heartbreak and laughter in this story. I picked up a number of phrases I never heard before like "Niggling" However the way the story is told may have little appeal to the average reader. Those with an in depth knowledge of the World Cup or of Welsh heritage will find this a quick and easy read will. Anyone else may be lost by the references to famous players or with the structure of British Football in the 50's.

And what of Pele? In 1958 he was just 17, virtually unknown outside of Brazil. The crucial match against against Wales served as his calling card to the world that something special was about to happen.

One final note. MARIO RISOLI interviewed nearly the entire Welsh team for the book, finding players throughout Wales and England, going as far as Australia to find team members. These first hand accounts raise the value of WHEN PELE BROKE OUT HEARTS from a mere re-cap of newspaper articles to a personal memoir. It was interesting to read how different team mates saw the same incidents through different sets of eyes.

There aren't many true heroes left in modern football. In 1958 19 men (the players and their brave manager) were true heroes taking a little country near the top of world football. Long may their memories live.
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