55 Years Ago - Saturday 30th July 1966 - The Missing Trophy

Slayer

Well-Known Member
I'm sure that older members will know exactly what they were doing on this day, 55 years ago. Some may try to forget it but I, along with most of the UK, was watching England win the World Cup.

For younger FF members who may be interested, here is a short story about the trophy awarded by Her Majesty The Queen to Bobby Moore on that historic afternoon 55 years ago.

Di81UBvXsAAslVU
This Version Of The Jules Rimet Trophy Resides In the FIFA Museum (2018)

It evaded the Nazis, was found by Pickles the dog, and went on to be stolen from Brazil in 1983 and allegedly melted down into gold bars. So, does the original World Cup trophy still exist?

Rio de Janeiro is central to a sinister footballing tale – one wrapped in crime, shame and more than a splash of intrigue. It has also resulted in a search for football’s Holy Grail that is, according to some, still ongoing.

The Holy Grail in this case is the Jules Rimet Trophy, the original prize awarded to the winners of the World Cup. At the inception of the tournament in 1930, FIFA agreed that, should any nation win three finals, they would be given the trophy for keeps. Following Brazil’s iconic victory over Italy in the 1970 final in Mexico, the trophy was therefore presented to the Brazilian Sports Confederation (CBD), now the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

The trophy was placed on display on the 3rd floor of the CBF offices in Rio’s, Rua da Alfandega. On the evening of 19-20 December 1983, the building’s night watchman was overpowered by a group of thieves seemingly in no mood to embrace the Christmas spirit.

The thieves had, according to news sources, hatched the plan around a table in a bar while drinking, in a plot that was said to be farcically opportunist rather than meticulously planned by an international crime syndicate.

After tying up the night watchman, the thieves (some sources say there were two of them, others three) prised open the wooden frame of the bullet proof glass display box that housed the trophy and swiped it. There was actually a replica in the building too, carefully secured in a coffer but the thieves left that alone and took off with the real thing.

The crime triggered a desperate search for the perpetrators and the trophy. With several covert foundries operating in and around Rio, fears grew that the trophy would be melted down. The bullion value was believed to be around £8,000 at the time while the Rio de Janeiro State Bank issued a hefty reward for the trophy’s safe return.

In his book, The Theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy, Martin Atherton wrote that the CBF president, Giulite Coutinho, made a nationwide appeal asking all Brazilians to help recover the trophy, saying, “The spiritual value of the cup is far greater than its material worth”; and, that the thieves had, “No feeling of patriotism”. Brazil hung its head in shame.

The police embarked on an intense investigation, pursuing an “inside job” line of inquiry and condemning the night watchman’s evidence as inconsistent. The day after the theft, two men who had previously worked at the CBF offices as janitors were arrested.

However, no charges were ever made and the trophy was never discovered, with it widely believed to have been melted down and sold as bullion. In 1989, one of those arrested suspects – Antonio Carlos Aranha – was found dead having been shot seven times.

And so, the glorious trophy – the gilded 12” high statuette of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, made by the Parisian sculptor Abel Lafleur in 1929 – vanished for ever … or did it? This is where that splash of intrigue comes in. That December night in Rio was by no means the first time that the security of the Jules Rimet Trophy had been compromised.

According to the Italian documentary, The Rimet Trophy, by Lorenzo Garzella, football’s greatest prize first came under threat from the Nazis - and they got very close to swiping it. During WWII, the trophy was held by the 1938 winners, Italy, in a Rome bank. Fearing for its safety, the Italian Football Federation’s president, Ottorino Barassi, smuggled the trophy out of the bank and into his apartment in the city. However, the Nazis had followed the scent and conducted a search of Barassi’s home. But they weren’t thorough enough. They missed the old shoebox stashed underneath Barassi’s bed, with the trophy hidden inside.

Following West Germany’s 1954 World Cup victory in Switzerland, the trophy resided in Frankfurt. The photo journalist, Joe Coyle, has claimed that, having studied certain photographs, the trophy taken to Sweden for the 1958 finals was 2” taller and had an altered base from the 1954 version, but it has never been verified that the trophy was adapted or exchanged while under German control.

From there we go to England for our next Jules Rimet incident. The trophy was on public display at Westminster Central Hall three months before Alf Ramsey’s men were to kick off the 1966 tournament. On a quiet Sunday lunchtime, four security guards were on duty covering the two-storey building. A routine check of the trophy at 1100 - all is fine. The next routine check at 1210 - the glass case holding the trophy is smashed, the back doors to the building forced open, the trophy gone. No one saw it being taken.

A ransom demand was made to the FA chairman, Joe Mears, but despite a man being convicted of “being concerned in a larceny after the fact”, and, “demanding money with menaces”, there was no evidence linking him to the raid in Westminster, and the identity of the thieves – just as in Rio in 1983 – never came to light.

Ironically enough, amid the football world’s outrage at this lack of English security, Abrain Tebel of the CBD proclaimed, “It would never have happened in Brazil. Even Brazilian thieves love football and would never commit this sacrilege.
That is, until 1983.

But, unlike in Brazil, in 1966 the trophy was recovered. Pickles the dog came to the rescue seven days after the theft, discovering the trophy wrapped in a newspaper, in a garden hedge, outside a house in Beulah Hill, South Norwood, South London. To this day, no one knows how it got there.

1880.jpg

Pickles At The Scene Of The Crime

The FA commissioned a replica trophy to be made in time for the tournament, and a policeman on duty at Wembley for the final has recounted swapping the original for the replica with a jubilant Nobby Stiles shortly after the game. This replica was used at that night’s official party at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington and subsequent publicity events.

Rumours have surfaced that the trophy England handed back for the 1970 tournament was in fact the replica (a switch possibly made by mistake as the replica was a convincing one). The trophy that remained in England was auctioned in 1997 and purchased by FIFA for a staggering £254,500 on the off-chance that maybe, just maybe, the rumours were true and this was the original. They had it examined by an expert jeweller. The result - it was the replica, meaning the real thing had gone to Mexico, and was subsequently taken back home by the victorious Brazil team.

Only one mystery remains - what happened to the trophy after that 1983 theft on Rua da Alfandega in Rio? Was it really melted down into gold bars in a Brazilian foundry? The football writer, Simon Kuper, has voiced his reservations over this theory, pointing out that the original trophy wasn’t actually made of solid gold, but of silver coated with gold.

So, if it wasn’t taken to a furnace, it could be anywhere - hidden on the outskirts of Rio waiting for a pick-up that never happened; tucked away in some dodgy collector’s basement; maybe hidden in a shoebox under someone’s bed? Rumours abound that the original trophy was never recovered. Instead, a replica of the Jules Rimet Trophy was presented to the CBF in 1984. The search continues, the mystery rolls on.

As a footnote, Pickles the dog who had found the stolen trophy in 1966, died the following year when he chased a cat up a tree - his lead got snagged on a branch and he ended up strangling himself.
 

Ronnietheranger

Well-Known Member
Interesting read, I was only 8 but remember the theft in England and Pickles the dug! Also remember watch the final and my Dad saying at the end 'we'll never hear the end of this!'
 

o7o

Well-Known Member
I'm sure that older members will know exactly what they were doing on this day, 55 years ago. Some may try to forget it but I, along with most of the UK, was watching England win the World Cup.

For younger FF members who may be interested, here is a short story about the trophy awarded by Her Majesty The Queen to Bobby Moore on that historic afternoon 55 years ago.

Di81UBvXsAAslVU
This Version Of The Jules Rimet Trophy Resides In the FIFA Museum (2018)

It evaded the Nazis, was found by Pickles the dog, and went on to be stolen from Brazil in 1983 and allegedly melted down into gold bars. So, does the original World Cup trophy still exist?

Rio de Janeiro is central to a sinister footballing tale – one wrapped in crime, shame and more than a splash of intrigue. It has also resulted in a search for football’s Holy Grail that is, according to some, still ongoing.

The Holy Grail in this case is the Jules Rimet Trophy, the original prize awarded to the winners of the World Cup. At the inception of the tournament in 1930, FIFA agreed that, should any nation win three finals, they would be given the trophy for keeps. Following Brazil’s iconic victory over Italy in the 1970 final in Mexico, the trophy was therefore presented to the Brazilian Sports Confederation (CBD), now the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

The trophy was placed on display on the 3rd floor of the CBF offices in Rio’s, Rua da Alfandega. On the evening of 19-20 December 1983, the building’s night watchman was overpowered by a group of thieves seemingly in no mood to embrace the Christmas spirit.

The thieves had, according to news sources, hatched the plan around a table in a bar while drinking, in a plot that was said to be farcically opportunist rather than meticulously planned by an international crime syndicate.

After tying up the night watchman, the thieves (some sources say there were two of them, others three) prised open the wooden frame of the bullet proof glass display box that housed the trophy and swiped it. There was actually a replica in the building too, carefully secured in a coffer but the thieves left that alone and took off with the real thing.

The crime triggered a desperate search for the perpetrators and the trophy. With several covert foundries operating in and around Rio, fears grew that the trophy would be melted down. The bullion value was believed to be around £8,000 at the time while the Rio de Janeiro State Bank issued a hefty reward for the trophy’s safe return.

In his book, The Theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy, Martin Atherton wrote that the CBF president, Giulite Coutinho, made a nationwide appeal asking all Brazilians to help recover the trophy, saying, “The spiritual value of the cup is far greater than its material worth”; and, that the thieves had, “No feeling of patriotism”. Brazil hung its head in shame.

The police embarked on an intense investigation, pursuing an “inside job” line of inquiry and condemning the night watchman’s evidence as inconsistent. The day after the theft, two men who had previously worked at the CBF offices as janitors were arrested.

However, no charges were ever made and the trophy was never discovered, with it widely believed to have been melted down and sold as bullion. In 1989, one of those arrested suspects – Antonio Carlos Aranha – was found dead having been shot seven times.

And so, the glorious trophy – the gilded 12” high statuette of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, made by the Parisian sculptor Abel Lafleur in 1929 – vanished for ever … or did it? This is where that splash of intrigue comes in. That December night in Rio was by no means the first time that the security of the Jules Rimet Trophy had been compromised.

According to the Italian documentary, The Rimet Trophy, by Lorenzo Garzella, football’s greatest prize first came under threat from the Nazis - and they got very close to swiping it. During WWII, the trophy was held by the 1938 winners, Italy, in a Rome bank. Fearing for its safety, the Italian Football Federation’s president, Ottorino Barassi, smuggled the trophy out of the bank and into his apartment in the city. However, the Nazis had followed the scent and conducted a search of Barassi’s home. But they weren’t thorough enough. They missed the old shoebox stashed underneath Barassi’s bed, with the trophy hidden inside.

Following West Germany’s 1954 World Cup victory in Switzerland, the trophy resided in Frankfurt. The photo journalist, Joe Coyle, has claimed that, having studied certain photographs, the trophy taken to Sweden for the 1958 finals was 2” taller and had an altered base from the 1954 version, but it has never been verified that the trophy was adapted or exchanged while under German control.

From there we go to England for our next Jules Rimet incident. The trophy was on public display at Westminster Central Hall three months before Alf Ramsey’s men were to kick off the 1966 tournament. On a quiet Sunday lunchtime, four security guards were on duty covering the two-storey building. A routine check of the trophy at 1100 - all is fine. The next routine check at 1210 - the glass case holding the trophy is smashed, the back doors to the building forced open, the trophy gone. No one saw it being taken.

A ransom demand was made to the FA chairman, Joe Mears, but despite a man being convicted of “being concerned in a larceny after the fact”, and, “demanding money with menaces”, there was no evidence linking him to the raid in Westminster, and the identity of the thieves – just as in Rio in 1983 – never came to light.

Ironically enough, amid the football world’s outrage at this lack of English security, Abrain Tebel of the CBD proclaimed, “It would never have happened in Brazil. Even Brazilian thieves love football and would never commit this sacrilege.
That is, until 1983.

But, unlike in Brazil, in 1966 the trophy was recovered. Pickles the dog came to the rescue seven days after the theft, discovering the trophy wrapped in a newspaper, in a garden hedge, outside a house in Beulah Hill, South Norwood, South London. To this day, no one knows how it got there.

1880.jpg

Pickles At The Scene Of The Crime

The FA commissioned a replica trophy to be made in time for the tournament, and a policeman on duty at Wembley for the final has recounted swapping the original for the replica with a jubilant Nobby Stiles shortly after the game. This replica was used at that night’s official party at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington and subsequent publicity events.

Rumours have surfaced that the trophy England handed back for the 1970 tournament was in fact the replica (a switch possibly made by mistake as the replica was a convincing one). The trophy that remained in England was auctioned in 1997 and purchased by FIFA for a staggering £254,500 on the off-chance that maybe, just maybe, the rumours were true and this was the original. They had it examined by an expert jeweller. The result - it was the replica, meaning the real thing had gone to Mexico, and was subsequently taken back home by the victorious Brazil team.

Only one mystery remains - what happened to the trophy after that 1983 theft on Rua da Alfandega in Rio? Was it really melted down into gold bars in a Brazilian foundry? The football writer, Simon Kuper, has voiced his reservations over this theory, pointing out that the original trophy wasn’t actually made of solid gold, but of silver coated with gold.

So, if it wasn’t taken to a furnace, it could be anywhere - hidden on the outskirts of Rio waiting for a pick-up that never happened; tucked away in some dodgy collector’s basement; maybe hidden in a shoebox under someone’s bed? Rumours abound that the original trophy was never recovered. Instead, a replica of the Jules Rimet Trophy was presented to the CBF in 1984. The search continues, the mystery rolls on.

As a footnote, Pickles the dog who had found the stolen trophy in 1966, died the following year when he chased a cat up a tree - his lead got snagged on a branch and he ended up strangling himself.
Poor wee Pickles.

You have to think the original was melted in South America!
 

erskine bear

Well-Known Member
Official Ticketer
I’ve always found it very strange, some random bloke and his dug finding something of that magnitude just lying about?.

I haven’t read about since I was a kid, but always struck me as suspicious.
 
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