Frank Borghi, U.S. goalkeeper in 1950 World Cup upset of England, dies at 89

Associated Press
Frank Borghi, the goalkeeper in the U.S.' upset victory over England in the 1950 World Cup, dies at 89

Frank Borghi, the goalkeeper in the United States' 1-0 upset victory over England in the 1950 World Cup, has died. He was 89.

Borghi died Monday in St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame. No cause was given.

Borghi was born in 1925 and grew up in the Hill neighborhood of St. Louis, which produced five members of the 1950 American team and major league baseball players Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola.

He served as an Army medic in Europe in World War II. When he returned home, he became a catcher in the St. Louis Cardinals' farm system. He switched his attention to soccer and was assigned to play goalkeeper for the Simpkins-Ford club in St. Louis.

Simpkins-Ford won the U.S. Open Cup in 1948 and 1950. Borghi made nine appearances for the United States, including three World Cup matches and five qualifiers for the 1950 and 1954 tournaments.

The U.S. lost its 1950 World Cup opener to Spain, 3-1 after leading through 80 minutes and was a huge underdog against England, a world power, going into the game at Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on June 29, 1950.

Joe Gaetjens' 38th-minute header put the U.S. ahead, and Borghi withstood all of England's shots. He was carried off the field by his teammates.

"I'll never forget it," Borghi said during a 2002 interview with the Associated Press. "But if we had played them again the next day, they'd probably beat us 10-0."

His most memorable save came in about the 80th minute, after Charlie Colombo fouled Stanley Mortensen just outside the American penalty area.

Off the free kick, Billy Mullen bounced a downward header, and Borghi lunged to his right and reached back to palm away the ball. Defender Harry Keough cleared it.

England claimed the ball went over the line, but Italian referee Generoso Dattilo thought otherwise.

Borghi kept looking at Dattilo, wondering how much longer this game would last.

"I kept thinking, 'C'mon, blow your whistle! Blow your whistle!"' he recalled.

The entire 1950 American team was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976. Borghi was played by Gerard Butler in the 2005 movie "The Game of Their Lives."

Borghi, who came home to drive a hearse for his family's funeral home, is survived by his wife, seven children and grandchildren.

Defender Walter Bahr, 87, is the last living member of the 1950 U.S. team.

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