Ladislao Mazurkiewicz: Goalkeeper who thwarted England in 1966

 

Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, star of three consecutive World Cups for Uruguay, was considered by many of his peers, including the Soviet Union's Lev Yashin and England's Gordon Banks, as one of the finest goalkeepers of his era.

With Banks at the other end in the opening match of the 1966 World Cup at Wembley, Mazurkiewicz kept England, including the strike force of Jimmy Greaves and Roger Hunt, at bay for a goalless draw. It was the only match the host nation failed to win on their way to the trophy and it helped Uruguay get through to the quarter-finals.

Mazurka, as his compatriots found it simpler to call him, was only 21 when he was introduced to the Queen that day as she walked down a red carpet laid out on the Wembley turf. But he became a legend in Uruguay when he kissed the monarch's white-gloved hand, and it later emerged that he had said in Spanish something along the lines of: "You're like something out of a painting, ma'am. But we are going to win today!" His team-mates said his remarks sent them into stitches, eased their nerves and helped them contain the hosts for the 90 minutes.

Mazurkiewicz – his father was a Polish immigrant, his mother of Spanish origin – was probably best known for helping his nation to the semi-finals of the next World Cup, in Mexico in 1970. Even if you don't remember his name – and even the great BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme had trouble pronouncing it – you will probably have seen footage of the moment he was fooled by Pele's outrageous dummy in the 1970 semi-final in Guadalajara. From a glorious through-pass from Tostao, with Mazurkiewicz racing to the edge of his area to intercept, Pele feinted to the left, dummied and ran round the Uruguayan 'keeper for what looked like an easy tap-in.

Amazingly, instead of scoring the goal of the tournament, the great Brazilian No 10 dragged it wide of the far post. An embarrassed Mazurkiewicz later claimed, with a wink, that he had "done enough to put Pele off." But although Uruguay had taken the lead, he could not stop Brazil from winning 3-1 that day and going on to beat Italy in the final. The world sports media voted the Uruguayan the best goalkeeper of the tournament and, despite their nations' traditional football rivalry, Pele and Mazurkiewicz became great friends. England's 1966 captain Bobby Moore also considered the South American with the hard-to-pronounce name one of the greatest 'keepers he had played against.

Standing just over 5ft 10in, Mazurkiewicz was nicknamed "el Chiquito" [the Little One] by players and fans of the national team known as La Celeste (the Sky Blue) from their strip. In contrast to the giant goalkeepers of today, he had to spring to tip the ball over the bar. Like the great Russian Yashin, "the Black Spider," and the 1950s Hungarian keeper Gyula Grosics – "the Black Panther" – Mazurkiewicz usually wore all-black, or occasionally all-grey. He reckoned the black outfit made him "more invisible" to opposing forwards.

Ladislao Mazurkiewicz Iglesias was born in the small Uruguayan coastal resort town of Piriapolis. His grandmother had fled with her children, including his father, as Hitler threatened Poland in 1939. He was 16 when he signed for Racing Club Montevideo in the capital as an outfield player but ended up between the sticks at the age of 18 when the regular goalkeeper had to be rushed to the dentist.

Most of his career, however, was spent across the city with FC Peñarol in the district of that name. With them he won three first division titles, the South American Copa Libertadores in 1966 and, later that year, the Intercontinental Cup, beating Real Madrid 2-0 at home and by the same score in Madrid's famous Bernabeu stadium.

He also won the Brazilian league title in 1971 with Atlético Mineiro, had spells with América Cali in Colombia and Granada in Spain and went on to manage Peñarol in the late 1980s. He died in hospital after kidney and breathing problems.

Phil Davison

Ladislao Mazurkiewicz Iglesias, footballer: born Piriapolis, Uruguay 14 February 1945; died Montevideo 2 January 2013.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent