JOHANNESBURG - When Portugal meet North Korea in Cape Town on Monday, it will be a rematch of perhaps the most remarkable game of any played at the World Cup finals.
Paul Radford was at that extraordinary 1966 encounter between the two teams when the unknown Koreans took a shock 3-0 lead and threatened to turn the sport's established order on its head.
I can still remember the look on Eusebio's face as North Korea took a 3-0 lead over his Portuguese team in the World Cup quarter-final at Goodison Park in Liverpool 44 years ago.
The Black Panther, as he was known, second best player in the world to Pele himself at the time, gathered the ball from the back of the net, turned and ran back to the centre spot with a look of grim determination which said: "That's enough now. I'm going to sort this out even if I have to do it all by myself."
It was an extraordinary moment. I was standing in the crowd of more than 40,000 as stunned as everyone else, wondering if I was dreaming.
North Korea had arrived for the finals as a mild curiosity and rank outsider. Nothing suggested what was to come after their first two games, a 3-0 defeat to the Soviet Union and a 1-1 draw with Chile.
But then came the biggest football upset ever, one which no one could really believe. They beat Italy 1-0 in their third group game in Middlesbrough, knocking out the team that had been twice world champions to reach the last eight.
This was not on the script and the match I went to attend on the July 23, 1966 was not one I had ever imagined.
At the time I was a student. I had paid the princely sum, for me, of 17 pounds 10 shillings for 10 tickets covering all six group games in Liverpool and Manchester, a quarter-final, semi-final, the third place playoff and the final at Wembley.
I was sleeping on the floor of my brother's small flat in Manchester and having the time of my life. The sheer excitement of going for the first time to Liverpool, then in the full throes of Beatlemania, was a thrill of its own.
I had chosen the matches in Group 3 because I would be able to see almost all my then soccer heroes. In later times it would have been called the "Group of Death" with Brazil, Portugal, Hungary and Bulgaria in it together.
Brazil had the god-like Pele and Garrincha, a winger who could bend a ball with the outside of his foot. Everybody can bend it like Beckham these days but at the time it was a matter of fascination and had been dubbed "the Banana Shot".
Portugal had the magnificent Eusebio and Hungary the gloriously elegant forward Florian Albert. Football paradise.
I had anticipated Brazil would win the group and meet the runners-up in Italy's section - probably the Soviet Union.
But Pele was injured and Brazil made a surprise exit, losing to both Hungary and Portugal, and so we were left with the unlikely pairing of Portugal and North Korea.
Everyone assumed the North Koreans had had one of those fluke results that happen in football and that they would be overwhelmed by Eusebio and co.
But from the kick-off it all went wrong for the Portuguese and so right for Korea. Park Seung-jin scored after just 55 seconds. Surely not another huge shock on the cards?
Portugal looked confused by the lively North Koreans as I recall. Two consecutive attacks brought two more goals in the 20th and 24th minutes from Lee Dong-woon and the equally unheard of Yang Sung-kook.
By now the Portuguese team and their fans looked shell-shocked and the majority of English fans in the stadium started wondering whether there was not some wizardry at work which might take North Korea all the way to the title, maybe ending England's sky-high hopes.
But Eusebio had other ideas. By sheer force of personality and sumptuous skill, he single-handedly took the game to North Korea. Just two minutes after Korea's third goal, he had pulled one back.
A penalty just before half time followed and then two more in the 57th and 60th minutes, the second another penalty. Portuguese fans were breathing sighs of relief as they gained the lead. Jose Augusto made sure with a fifth 10 minutes from time and Portugal, or rather Eusebio, had won the game 5-3.
Portugal went on to take third place and Eusebio was top scorer with nine goals. North Korea went back to international football oblivion and have not taken part in any finals until this tournament.
Twenty years later, at the World Cup in Mexico, I recalled that game as I reported for Reuters on Spain's 5-1 win over Denmark with four goals from Emilio Butragueno, "El Buitre" - the Vulture.
When my editor asked if I knew the last time a player had scored four goals in a World Cup finals game, I said: "Yes, I do know because I was there."comments