Nikita Boksrov narrates a story of how the FIFA World Cup 1966 led to long-lasting connections between the city of Middlesbrough and North Korea. The attitude of the community of the world in 1966, the small country was as cautious as they could. Kim II-Sung’s totalitarian regime didn’t fit well with the values of the Western World. Initially, there had been doubt as to if the team will be let to enter the country and play the game under their flag.
The UK applauded its action and claimed that it didn’t want to recognize North Korea like that. Following that, the British authorities decided to compromise and pointed out that letting the DPRK team play in their country didn’t imply recognition of North Korea in some way. All problems were solved and DPRK turned out to be the only team cantoned in the city of Middlesbrough.
Before the beginning of the competition, initially, the team North Korea was looked upon as a curious curiosity. Nevertheless, supporters who visited the opening training sessions were amazed by the style of the play of the team and also the incredibly friendly and humble interactions with the local people. Apart from that, the Korean players played in red, the color that Middlesbrough played in. Hence, the local players sympathized with the team.
For North Korea, the first game against USSR ended badly. But the miracles came later on. They drew the match with Chile and it was one of the biggest surprises in the history of the World Cup as they came third in the match. The Koreans had defeated one of the popular ones in the tournament. The victory led North Korea to the quarter-finals. Their achievement had been far-reaching in South Korea among Asian countries in 2022.