As I sat watching the World Cup draw last Friday, like many others I’d hoped the United States would draw South Africa, a team that is clearly the weakest of the seeded teams. But when the United States were promptly placed in the same group as England, the storyline was one that jumps off the screen.
I had recently written about the United States’ upset of England in the 1950 World Cup, still considered the greatest upset in the international competition of all time.
This all came about when I was fortunate enough recently to meet and dine with Frank Borghi, the goalie on that 1950 team who still lives in St. Louis.
So I called Frank, and he hadn’t yet heard the news.
“Oh, that’s exciting,” he told me. “I know England is very good.”
We didn’t talk long, as it was nearing the dinner hour, and despite his prior invitation to come back or call anytime, I wanted to be sensitive to his time. But I hung up the phone stunned that he hadn’t received a call from a newspaper somewhere. It had been over three hours since the draw had completed.
I wrote this before, but his kindness is such that I’m not sure I’ve ever met a nicer man. A decorated war veteran in addition to his heroics on the soccer field, Frank also played some minor league baseball and finally settled into a career running a funeral home. Now retired, he and his lovely wife Rosemary still live in St. Louis, although no longer on The Hill where he and several of his teammates on the 1950 U.S. soccer team grew up.
The remaining teams in the United States pool are Algeria and Slovenia. I’m certain both will be formidable opponents when the time comes, although not considered one of the stronger sides at this time. The draw is the best the United States has gotten in quite some time.
But I still go back to Frank and that 1950 team.
Surely, there will be a lot written about that game in the lead up to next June 12th’s match against England.
Filip Bondy had a piece yesterday in the New York Daily News.
Bernie Miklasz had a mention yesterday in his column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
But I haven’t run across anyone that has written extensively about Frank, at least not yet.
Although humble, he was the hero of that game. And he deserves the recognition he and his teammates didn’t get in 1950.
Photo: Found online (credit unknown), Frank Borghi addresses a crowd at a celebration of The Hill. Note the large photo of the 1950 team behind him. The gentleman in the green sports jacket is teammate and long time St. Louis University soccer coach Harry Keough.