For many a football fan, the image of the iconic Jules Rimet trophy has been synonymous with ultimate victory and glory in the sport.
As winners of the World Cup for 40 years however – including England’s win in 1966 under the Wembley arches – the trophy was handed down to just five different nations in its original lifespan.
Original, as after the 1970 tournament in Mexico – won by Brazil for the third time – it was replaced by what we now know as the World Cup trophy, in what has become one of the most iconic symbols across the sporting globe.
Like any of sport’s global trophies and awards, the history of the Jules Rimet trophy has its own storied background.
The trophy, originally named ‘Victory’, was renamed in 1946 to honour the former FIFA President of the same name, who passed the vote to create the birth of what became the World Cup of football.
Designed by French sculptor Abel Lafleur, the trophy was made of gold-plated silver sterling on a marble base, which was then replaced in 1954 by the precious stone lapis lazuli for greater stability.
Standing 35 cm (14 inches) in height, Rimet formed a decagonal cup supported by a winged figure of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, and weighed 3.8km.
For the first FIFA World Cup in 1930, the trophy was transported to Uruguay aboard the Italian ocean liner the SS Conte Verde from Villefranche-sur-Mer in the south of France on 21 June that summer.
It was the same vessel that carried the participating players of France, Romania and Belgium to South America as they competed in the tournament against the hosts and eventual winners.
The golden statue has had a number of close encounters that few other awards can boast. During World War II, Italian vice-president Ottorini Barassi transported the trophy from a bank vault in Rome in 1938 and then, remarkably, hid it in a shoe box under his bed to prevent it falling into Nazi hands.
The Jules Rimet trophy’s perhaps most famous narrative however was during the ’66 competition.
Having been on display at Westminster Central Hall in London, the trophy was stolen four months before the beginning of the tournament before being found by celebrated canine Pickles the dog, wrapped in newspaper a week later in a southern suburb of the capital.
The incident was such an embarrassment to the FA that, in the light of the Three Lions win later that year, a replica was commissioned for all public exhibitions up until 1970.
When FIFA denied its use after the World Cup in Mexico, the Jules Rimet trophy was once again consigned to the rather inglorious confines of a shoe box once more, this time probably under this particular creator’s bed.
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