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Flashback Friday - World Cups

Posted: Fri 16 May 2014

With the FIFA World Cup™ just weeks away, we'll be taking a look at those Blues players that have featured in previous finals.

First up, is legendary Blues goalkeeper Gil Merrick, who appeared for England in the 1954 tournament in Switzerland. Gil was joined in the squad by fellow Blues player Ken Green, although Green remained an unused member of the group.

The 1954 FIFA World Cup™ was just the fifth time that the tournament had been staged and ran from 16 June to 4 July, 1954.

Switzerland (the hosts) qualified automatically, along with defending champions (Uruguay). Of the remaining 14 places on offer, 11 were allocated to Europe (including Egypt, Turkey and Israel), two to the Americas, and one to Asia. 

The 16 qualifying teams were divided into four groups of four teams each. Each group contained two seeded teams and two unseeded teams. Only four matches were scheduled for each group, each pitting a seeded team against an unseeded team.

England were placed in Group 4 along with the hosts, Italy and Belgium and played just two group games. 

Their opening fixture saw them take on Belgium at the St. Jakob Stadium in Basel. Despite extra time, the game ended in a 4-4 draw with a two goals apiece for Sunderland's Ivor Broadis and Bolton Wanderers legend Nat Lofthouse. Click here for highlights.

The second group saw an improved performance and more importantly a win for the Three Lions as they overcame Switzerland 2-0 at the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, with the Wolves pair of Jimmy Mullen and Dennis Wilshaw both on target. Click here for highlights. 

That result saw them top their group and earn themselves a quarter final tie against the holders Uruguay.

But despite goals from Lofthouse and Preston's Tom Finney, England were beaten 4-2 at the St. Jakob Stadium and their World Cup dreams were ended, with Merrick having played in all three matches. Click here for highlights.

The tournament was eventually won by West Germany, who defeated Hungary 3–2 in the final, to claim their first title.

To this day, the 1954 showpiece remains the highest-scoring FIFA World Cup™ with 140 goals (at an average 5.38 per match) and the most goals scored by a single country - Hungary with 27.

Next week we will take a look at Mehdi Nafti and Stan Lazaridis, who competed for Tunisia and Australia respectively in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.