The World Cup is the largest sports event outside the summer Olympics: the progress of the 32 countries which qualify for the finals is watched by billions all over the globe. Since the very first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, there have been 18 finals, held every four years (with a 12-year break over the World War II period). The World Cup in South Africa will be the 19th. Brian Glanville, the distinguished journalist and World Cup historian, has written a fascinating history of the event. Here are the men who played, the goals they scored, the triumphs, the failures, the shocks and the scandals. Here are the stories of heroes – Pele, Eusebio, Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer, Johann Cruyff, Diego Maradona and many more – as well as the villains, the managers, the referees and the football politicians. It is one of the greatest stories of world sport.