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Harry Keough: Footballer who helped beat England


Harry Keough, who played for the US team that shocked the football world by beating England at the 1950 World Cup, died on 7 February at his home in St Louis at the age of 84. A defender who scored one goal in 19 appearances for the US from 1949-57, Keough coached Saint Louis University to five NCAA titles. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976.

Of all his accomplishments, Keough is best remembered for what happened in Brazil. He started all three games for the Americans and was captain when the US played Spain in their opening game. The 1-0 win over England in the Americans' second game is regarded by many as the greatest upset infootball history. "We didn't feel we needed to beat them, but we felt if we could just play pretty good, it would be enough," Keough recalled in 2002. "In our minds, if we lost 2-0, we'd feel pretty good about ourselves."

Keough was a youth player for St Louis Schumachers, then while serving in the Navy after the Second World War he joined San Francisco Barbarians. After the military, he played in St. Louis for Paul Schulte Motors and was picked for the US team at the 1949 North American Football Confederation Championship, which served as qualifying for the World Cup.

He was among five from the St Louis area to start against England, and on 29 June 1950, at Belo Horizonte, the US faced a team that included such luminaries as Alf Ramsey, Tom Finney and Stan Mortensen. The Americans went ahead in the 37th minute when Walter Bahr collected a throw-in from Ed McIlvenny and shot from 25 yards out; Joe Gaetjens deflected the ball past Bert Williams with a diving header.

"They were outplaying us," Keough said. "We were chasing them most of the time. My thought was, 'They're really going to come down on us hard. For us to be ahead at the half was one thing. For us to hold it was another.'"

A right-back, Keough remembered the England players starting to panic in the final minutes: "They could seeit slipping from them. They didn't ever dream we could beat them. Neither did we, for that matter." The Americans fell behind Chile by two goals in their next game, came back to 2-2 early in the second half but were knocked out with a 5-2 defeat.

Keough's only goal for the US team was against Canada in a World Cup qualifier in 1957. He also played for the US teams at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics; both times they were eliminated with opening defeats.

An employee of the US Postal Service while a player, Keough coached Florissant Valley Community College, then was hired by St Louis. His first side was NCAA joint champions in the NCAA in 1967, and he went on to coach them to titles in 1969, 1970, 1972 and 1973. He retired after the 1982 season. His son Ty played eight games for the US national side in 1979-80 and later broadcast for ABC, ESPN and TNT.

With Keough's death, it is believed that believes Bahr, Frank Borghi and John Souza are the last surviving members of the 1950 side.