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The tail of Pickles and the stolen World Cup

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

SAO PAULO - A mongrel dog named Pickles found it. But the Nazis couldn't.

Thieves have got their hands on it. But Australians haven't touched it.

It's considered priceless. But you can get a knock off mini version for a few bucks.

It's the most coveted trophy in sport, the Jules Rimet Trophy, for winning the World Cup.

So just how did Pickles the dog sniff it out?

Blame the Poms. They lost it, before they won it, in 1966.

The solid gold trophy was stolen in London while on a pre-tournament exhibition.

A week after the theft, a geezer called Dave Corbett was walking Pickles in south-east London when the mutt sniffed a garden hedge.

Inside the hedge was something wrapped in newspaper; the Jules Rimet Trophy named after FIFA's longest-serving president who initiated the first World Cup.

The dog's owner was given a 5000 pound reward five times as much as the England players got for winning the trophy and Pickles instantly became a national hero.

He dined out on his fame, was given a year's supply of treats from a pet food company. But the next year, he died chasing a cat, Pickles' lead got caught in a fallen tree branch and he choked.

Brazil, who held the trophy before the Poms won it in 1966, thought the incident laughable not the dog's death, the fact the trophy was pinched.

"This shameful theft would never have happened in Brazil. Even Brazilian thieves love football and would never have committed such a sacrilegious crime," thundered Brazilian Sports Confederation official Abrain Tebel.

But karma came knocking in 1983 when thieves stole the trophy from Brazil's possession.

Brazil had earnt keeper's rights: FIFA decreed the first nation to win the trophy three times, could keep it forever.

After the Selecao's third triumph in 1970, the Brazilian FA kept the trophy at their Rio de Janiero headquarters.

Five days before Christmas 1983, hooded thieves tied up the nightwatchman and stole the trophy from its display box. It was never recovered - police believe it was most likely melted down.

Decades earlier, during World War II, many feared the same fate if Germany's Nazis got their iron fists around the trophy.

The inaugural trophy, won by Uruguay at the first World Cup in 1930, depicted Nike, the Goddess of Victory, holding an octagonal vessel in her outstretched hands.

Italy won it in 1934 and again in 1938.

And to ensure its safe-keeping as the Nazis tore through Europe, Italian sports official Ottorino Barassi took it from a Rome bank vault and hid it in a box under his bed until the end of the war.

FIFA has - justifiably, given the history - become super-protective of the trophy.

A new trophy was designed in the 1970s, depicting two players holding up the globe.

The 18-carat gold trophy weighs five kilograms, stands 36 centimetres high and will be replaced in 2038 when there's no more room for the winner's plaque.

FIFA now guard the solid gold trophy at its Zurich headquarters and no longer offer keeper's rights for three-time winners.

They give World Cup winners the original and then take it back - the champions get a gold-plated replica to keep.





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