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World Cup A-Z: Thomas, Clive

5 June 2014

By Rhys Griffiths

No stranger to controversial decisions, Welsh referee Clive Thomas wrote himself into the annals of World Cup infamy thanks to his performance with the whistle during the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

The man they called 'The Book' thanks to his notoriously strict interpretation of the laws of the game took charge of a group three match between Brazil and Sweden on 3rd June in the coastal city of Mar del Plata. Swedish midfielder Thomas Sj?berg had given his side the lead in the first half before Reinaldo drew the Brazilians level, and with just seconds to go and the score tied at 1-1 the South American side won a corner.

What happened next made Thomas famous and secured his place in World Cup folklore. Brazil right-back Nelinho stepped up to take the corner just as the match moved into injury time and whipped a fine cross towards the near post. Zico had made a powerful run from around the penalty spot and met the ball perfectly, but just as he connected with the cross to score what he believed would be the winner Thomas blew his whistle for full-time.

Despite vociferous protests from the Brazilian players the 'goal' did not stand and the Swedes had secured a draw against the side that would go on to finish third.

But for Clive Thomas that one decision would come to define him in the minds of fans across the world. Speaking to WalesOnline ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Thomas said: "Still when I do after-dinner speaking people are asking me why I didn't give a goal to Brazil. The only way you cope with it is because you honestly and truthfully believe that what you did was absolutely correct. That's why I'm able to sleep every night."

Click here to see the other letters in our World Cup A-Z


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