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
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style