It is hard to image a World Cup without Italy. The four time winners of the tournament – 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 – Italy are one of the most successful teams in international teams. It can be further exemplified in the fact that they had missed the World Cup only once. The ‘have’ in the previous sentence turned to ‘had’ on Monday night as the Azzurri failed to get past Sweden over two legs in the World Cup qualifying playoffs. After losing the opening leg 1-0 in Sweden, the Italians failed to break the deadlock at the San Siro and missed out on qualification for the first time since 1958.
While failing to qualify, Italy’s run of 14 consecutive World Cups – the longest by a team – was stopped. They became the first former champions to fail to qualify for a World Cup since Uruguay missed out on the 2006 edition. Meanwhile, all other seven former winners have booked their place on the flight to Russia.
A quick look at what was happening in 1958 when Italy last failed to qualify:
# At the World Cup itself, Brazil had yet to win one. Later that year, Brazil won their first with Sweden emerging runner-up in the tournament played in Sweden itself.
# A 17-year-old Pele made his debut for Brazil in the 1958 World Cup. He went on to score six goals in the tournament – including the final – while Frenchman Just Fontaine scored 13 goals.
# In entertainment industry, Mother India won Best Movie at the fifth Filmfare Awards. Other notable winners were: Nargis for Mother India and Dilip Kumar for Naya Daur.
# Seven Manchester United players were killed in the tragic Munich disaster. List of casualties also included eight sports journalists and several club officials.
# In 1958, the reigning World Series baseball champions were Milwaukee Braves – who have only added one Championship title since then.
# STD calling was introduced in the United Kingdom without the need of an operator.
# In American Football, Baltimore Colts beat New York Giants 23-17 in overtime. The game later came on to be called the “Greatest Game ever played”.
# India finished seventh in the Asian Games with Tokyo playing hosts. India bagged five gold medals, four silver medals and four bronze medals. Japan topped the table. The third Asian Games saw introduction of hockey, table tennis, tennis and volleyball. Milkha Singh won two gold medals, while there were gold medals for athletes Mohinder Singh, Parduman Singh Brar and Balkar Singh.
# India finished eighth in the Commonwealth Games (then called British Empire and Commonwealth Games). They were held in Cardiff, Wales with India taking home two gold medals and a silver medal. Lila Ram Sangwan won gold in heavyweight wrestling alongside Milkha Singh who triumphed in the 400 metres.