Italian progress: Did not qualify
Football Italia recounts Italy’s steps through the World Cup, tournament by tournament. After their struggles in the early 1950s, Italy didn’t even make it to Sweden for the 1958 World Cup Finals…
Italy failed to qualify for the first time in their history in 1958. They were beaten into second spot in European Group Eight by Northern Ireland. The campaign marked their first defeats in World Cup qualifying matches as Portugal beat them 3-0 in Lisbon on 26 May 1957 and Northern Ireland triumphed 2-1 in Belfast on 15 January 1958.
An Italian international did get his hands on the trophy despite the Azzurri’s non-attendance. Jose Altafini, who represented Italy at the 1962 event, was a member of Brazil’s victorious squad. The Samba Kings, showing off the talents of a certain Pele, beat Sweden 5-2 in the Final in Solna.
The 1958 event is so far the only European based World Cup which was not won by a European team.
There was one Italian at the 1958 event – Rome-born Vincenzo Orlandini was one of the 22 referees at the tournament.
Just Fontaine was top scorer in 1958, but he didn’t make it into the team of the tournament as the votes for him were split between the left and right inside forward positions.