42nd Minute, Pak Do Ik, North Korea v Italy, 1966 World Cup Group Stage
Italy were two time World Champions and a football world power whilst North Korea were huge outsiders. They had qualified for the World Cup with a 9-2 aggregate win over Australia after every other FIFA member nation in the Oceania, Asia and Africa had pulled out in protest at FIFA’s decision to only give one spot between the three continents.
North Korea may not have played in the World Cup at all if FIFA hadn’t exerted pressure on Britain to allow them in the country. The British government was anxious about their appearance in the World Cup following frosty relations after the Korean War. They needn’t have worried, as when the North Koreans arrived in England and travelled to their base in Middlesbrough they were received warmly by the hosts. Training sessions on Teesside revealed a side who were attacking, quick and skilful whilst playing in the same colours of the local side helped to generate support of course.
In their opening game they unravelled and the Soviet Union had put three past them without reply and even getting a point in the group looked unlikely. Their next game against Chile looked to be heading the same way as the Soviet Union one after falling behind midway through the first half. However the North Koreans dug in and had the Teessiders behind them. Ayresome Park erupted when they found an equaliser with two minutes to go to keep them in the competition.
They faced Italy in what surely was to be their last match in the competition as anything other than a win would send the North Koreans home.
Minutes before half-time, the North Koreans displaying their new found confidence and form incredibly took the lead…
What Happened Next?
Pak Do Ik’s goal was enough to give them a 1-0 win and send the Italians home. They finished second in the group and faced Group 3 winners Portugal in the quarter finals. Thousands of people from Middlesbrough took the trip across the country to support them in Liverpool and they couldn’t believe their eyes when they took a 3-0 lead after just twenty-five minutes. Heartbreak would follow as the legendary Eusebio scored four goals in the space of about half an hour to turn the match around. Portugal added another late on for the final scoreline of 5-3.
A good account of North Korea on Teesside in 1966 here…
Footage of the side in 1966