Joe Gaetjens facts for kids
|Full name||Joseph Edouard Gaetjens|
|Date of birth||March 19, 1924|
|Place of birth||Port-au-Prince, Haiti|
|Date of death||July 10, 1964(aged 40)|
|Place of death||Port-au-Prince, Haiti|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Playing position||Center forward|
|1951–1952||Racing Club de Paris||4||(2)|
Joseph Edouard Gaetjens ( GAY-jenz; March 19, 1924 – July 10, 1964 [presumed]) was a Haitian soccer player who played for the United States national team in the 1950 FIFA World Cup, scoring the winning goal in the 1–0 upset of England. He also played one match for Haiti in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico.
Gaetjens won his home national championship in 1942 and 1944 with top-level Etoile Haïtienne. He then moved to the American Soccer League (ASL) and led all players with 18 goals in 15 games for New York's Brookhattan during the 1949–50 season. He was posthumously inducted into the United States National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976.
Gaetjens is among the Les 100 Héros de la Coupe du Monde ("100 Heroes of the World Cup"), which included the top 100 World Cup Players from 1930 to 1990, a list drawn up in 1994 by the France Football magazine based exclusively on their performances at World Cup level.
Joe Gaetjens was born in Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince, to Edmond and Antonine Defay, a well-to-do Haitian family who lived in an upscale neighborhood of Port-au-Prince called Bois Verna. His great-grandfather Thomas, was a native of Bremen, in northern Germany, who supposedly had been sent to Haiti by Frederick William III, the King of Prussia, as a business emissary arriving shortly after 1825; although the validity for this claim is uncertain by family members. He married Leonie Déjoie, whose father was a general in a time where Haiti's independence was officially recognized by France. The family was quite prosperous, and although by the time of Joe's birth their wealth had decreased significantly after the United States occupation of Haiti (1915–34), in which the economic isolation of Germany due to World War I and conflicts over family assets between sons took its toll on the family's business interests, they were still living among the Haitian elite. When Gaetjens was born, his father registered his birth certificate with the German embassy, in case he ever wanted to gain German citizenship.
Gaetjens joined Etoile Haïtienne at the age of fourteen and won two Ligue Haïtienne championships in 1942 and 1944. In his first championship appearance, at the age of eighteen, came against longer established Racing Club Haïtien, another club in Port-au-Prince. Down 3–0 at halftime and a heckling goalkeeper directed at Gaetjens after each goal scored, "Ti-Joe" urged his teammates to hold its defense to allow no more goals. Less than ten minutes after Racing's last goal, Gaetjens rebounded and scored to break the shutout. At the 53rd minute, Fritz Joseph scored. With seven minutes remaining, Frérot Rouzier scored the tying goal equalizing the match at 3–3. At the final minutes of regulation, a defiant Gaetjens kept on the offense, breaking the tie at 3–4, which ended up being the game-winner. To this day, Racing Club Haïtien refuses to play matches on the "Jeudi Saint" (Holy Thursday); the day of washing of the feet. During his tenure with the club, he became known for his goal-scoring headers.
Gaetjens went to New York City in 1947 to study accounting at Columbia University on a scholarship from the Haitian government and concluded that he could not make a living from professional soccer in Haiti. During this time, he played three seasons for Brookhattan of the American Soccer League (ASL). In his first season during 1947–48, he scored the second-most goals in the league with 14. In his third season, he won the league's scoring title totaling 18 goals in 15 games during 1949–50. He was making $25 per game, while also working for the Brookhattan owner's restaurant and washing dishes.
Racing Club de Paris and Olympique Alès
At the end of the World Cup, Gaetjens left for France to play in Division 1, where he briefly played for Racing Club de Paris; scoring twice in four games and then for Division 2 Olympique Alès; scoring twice in fifteen games.
Gaetjens returned to Haiti in 1954 and remained active in soccer, rejoining Etoile Haïtienne, and also became a spokesman for Colgate-Palmolive. He played a few seasons and then left the game for good in 1957, a few months after the birth of his first son.
Gaetjens debuted on the international scene on April 2, 1944, for the Haiti national team, losing to Curaçao, 0–5. In the following match on April 5, 1944, against Venezuela, the Haitian team was shut out 0–2. Both matches were friendlies.
His success with Brookhattan attracted the attention of U.S. Soccer, and Gaetjens made the national team for the 1950 World Cup.
Gaetjens played three games at the World Cup, including one of the greatest World Cup upsets in history, in which Gaetjens scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory in which the American soccer team defeated the hugely favored English at Belo Horizonte. Walter Bahr had taken a shot from about 25 yards away and the ball was heading to goalkeeper Bert Williams's right. It appeared to be a relatively easy save, but Gaetjens dove headlong and grazed the ball enough that it went to the goalkeeper's left instead, with his momentum preventing him from stopping the ball. Williams later considered the goal to be a result of a lucky deflection, but this view was disputed by Laurie Hughes, who was defending Gaetjens on the play.
Although Gaetjens was not a United States citizen, he had declared his intention of becoming one, and under the rules of the United States Soccer Football Association at that time was allowed to play. However, Gaetjens never actually did gain American citizenship.
Return to Haiti
Death and legacy
Gaetjens was not interested in politics, but his family was. He was related to Louis Déjoie (his great-grandfather Thomas married Leonie Déjoie), who lost the 1957 Haitian presidential election to François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, and although the family also had connections to the new president, Gaetjens's younger brothers Jean-Pierre and Fred, became associated with a group of exiles in the Dominican Republic who wanted to stage a coup.
On July 8, 1964, the morning after Duvalier declared himself "president for life", the rest of the Gaetjens family fled the country in fear of reprisal for the younger Gaetjens brothers' rebellious associations, but Joe stayed, thinking that Duvalier's regime would be uninterested in him since he was only a sports figure. That morning, he was arrested by the nation's Tonton Macoutes secret police and was taken to a prison called Fort Dimanche notorious for its brutally inhumane practices, where it is presumed he was killed some time later that month. His body has never been found.
In 1972, Gaetjens was honored in a benefit game involving the New York Cosmos and a team composed of local Haitians at Yankee Stadium. Joe Gaetjens was posthumously inducted into the United States National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1976.
In 2010, his son Lesly Gaetjens wrote a biography about his father: The Shot Heard Around the World: The Joe Gaetjens Story.
As interests in Gaetjens jerseys have spiked, whether it is to honor the man who arguably scored the greatest goal in American soccer history or to taunt opposing English fans during games, there has been a serious discussion about what number he wore during the 1950 World Cup.
Gaetjens' nephew James attempted to figure it out in order to make T-shirts for an England-US party, but ultimately did not know. Gaetjen's son Lesly and his mother believed that he wore number 10, however they could not be certain, saying that number may have been from his club in Haiti. Lesly's uncle, nicknamed "Ti-Jean," believes he wore number 9.
Internet fan forums, in particularly, the BigSoccer forum, had narrowed down his numbers to 9, 17 and 18, while some wondered if there were numbers for the World Cup team. Contrary to the latter belief, it is confirmed through pictures and footage that numbers were used, however, there was no mention of numbers worn during that year at the American Soccer History Archives, nor is it in the official game reports of FIFA. The National Soccer Hall of Fame has recorded the number as 18, from an alleged report from Walter Bahr, a member of that World Cup squad, who does not recall stating such a number. He offers his highest doubts and argues that strikers usually wore number 9, as numbers were given based on position and Gaetjens was a striker. He also attests that only two substitutes would receive numbers, skipping 13, which was considered bad luck, while numbers stopped at 14, before no longer being included. He mentions that it is possible that number 9 was taken, as Gaetjens was a late addition along with two others but ultimately, the squad grew to only 16 players.
According to an unnamed ESPN producer for "Outside the Lines," in a special dedicated to Gaetjens, upon working with footage believes the number was 18 and attests to 98–99 percent certainty.
Gaetjens was seen wearing 15 in the game against Spain, which was not the 18 he supposedly wore in the game against England. The Youtube video footage of the game against Spain was not just of high quality, but also a close up of him hustling back after a failed attack via a left side cross, thus showing the back and the number of his shirt clearly. On the other hand in the England game there was only a photo taken from the other end of the field (goalkeeper's view), so it is not 100% sure if indeed it is 18 or not after magnifying the photo.
When Gaetjens first arrived in the US from Haiti, he was mistaken for Belgian of the Flemish-speaking part of the country, due to the sounding of his surname ending in -tjens and the fact that migration in waves were common during the 19th century. However, his great-grandfather was from Bremen of northern Germany and the Gaetjens name is not common in Flanders. Although, a variant does exist over Germany's northern border in Denmark as Gätjens.
Gaetjens was a fluent speaker of French, Spanish and English.
- Ligue Haïtienne: 1942, 1944
- Runner-up National Challenge Cup: 1948
- Inducted into the United States National Soccer Hall of Fame: 1976
- France Football: World Cup Top-100 1930–1990
- NSCAA Honorary All-America Award: 2015
- ASL Golden Boot: 1950
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Joe Gaetjens Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.