Jules Rimet trophy: What happened to it? Was it ever recovered? Story behind the original World Cup trophy

Brazil were the final winners of the old Jules Rimet trophy

“Jules Rimet still gleaming” is a line that you will undoubtedly hear England fans singing on countless occasions in the upcoming World Cup. The popular Three Lions song by Baddiel, Skinner and Lighting Seeds references the old FIFA World Cup trophy which was formerly named the Jules Rimet Trophy.

Over the course of history the Jules Rimet trophy has been lifted by some of the most well known legends in football history including the likes of Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer and Sir Bobby Moore. The prestigious trophy once symbolised the greatest honour in the world of football before it was replaced in 1974.

But what happened to the famous Jules Rimet trophy and why was it replaced by The FIFA World Cup?

England captain Bobby Moore pictured with the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966 (Getty Images)

History of the Jules Rimet trophy

The journey of the World Cup itself started in 1930 and the initiative to form a world wide football competition was spearheaded by Frenchman Jules Rimet. Rimet was the third president in the history of World governing body FIFA and remains the longest serving president in the history of the organisation with his 33-year stint lasting from 1921 until 1954.

The task of designing the trophy was given to another Frenchman Abel Lafluer. Lafluer’s design featured the gold statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory holding an octagon cup over her head. The inspiration for the design came from the Nike of Samothrace statue, an incomplete yet well renowned statue which is on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The original name for the World Cup trophy was the ‘Coupe du Monde’, which was French for the ‘World Cup’, however in 1946 it was renamed the Jules Rimet trophy to celebrate the FIFA president’s 25 year anniversary.

Where was the trophy kept during World War II?

During the Second World War there were many concerns surrounding the safety of the Jules Rimet Trophy and many feared that an item of such high value could be stolen. A member of FIFA at the time, Ottorino Barassi was handed the task of protecting the prestigious trophy and it is reported that he removed the trophy from a bank in Rome and hid it in a shoe box under his bed until the end of the war.

The trophy was kept safe under Barassi’s bed until peace was declared in 1945. After the war Barassi instigated Italy’s bid to host the 1950 World Cup - the first tournament since the end of World War II.

Was the World Cup trophy stolen in England?

England were selected as the host nation for the 1966 World Cup for the first time in their history. The 1966 tournament is always remembered as the year when England lifted the World Cup, however, it was also the year that the prestigious trophy was stolen.

In the build up to the World Cup, The Jules Rimet trophy went on exhibition at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster and was put on display as the centrepiece of a stamp exhibition. However, the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen just four months before the tournament was due to take place on 20 March 1966.

What followed was a six-day hunt to find the prestigious trophy. During the chaos a number of individuals called the police pretending to have stolen the prestigious trophy. One of the most serious messages appeared to come from a man called ‘Jackson’. Jackson claimed he would return the trophy if he was given £15,000 and included a removable lining from the top of the trophy. The handover was set to take place at Chelsea’s home stadium Stamford Bridge.

Jackson was arrested at the scene and his true identity was revealed to be Edward Betchley. Following interrogation Betchley revealed that he was acting as a middleman for a man who he referred to as ‘The Pole’. Betchley was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison.

How was the Jules Rimet trophy recovered?

26-year-old David Corbett went out for a walk with his dog on 26 March 1966. At the time he was unaware that he and his dog Pickles were about to become international heroes.

Corbett had just begun his walk with his dog, when the mongrel began to pull towards a mysterious package under a laurel bush. That package turned out to be the FIFA World Cup. Corbett later told the press: “I tore the paper off and saw a black base. I then tore the top off and saw gold. That’s how Pickles - bless him - and I found the World Cup”.

It appears that the thief, in a panic that police were looking for him, had decided to abandon the trophy on a quiet street.

Corbett and Pickles would both achieve worldwide popularity after recovering The Jules Rimet Trophy but the true culprit of who stole the coveted prize has never been discovered.

Pickles, the dog who found the stolen World Cup trophy, is offered a part in the comedy film ‘The Spy with a Cold Nose’, 29th March 1966. (Getty Images)

Did Brazil keep the Jules Rimet trophy?

Brazil became World Cup champions in 1970 with a star studded team consisting of players such as Pelé, Carlos Alberto and Rivelino. As a result of this achievement Brazil were awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy on a permanent basis as it was stipulated that the first team to win the World Cup thrice would keep the trophy on a permanent basis.

In 1974 the FIFA World Cup trophy replaced the Jules Rimet Trophy and it is still used in the present day.

Brazil were the final nation to lift the Jules Rimet trophy (Getty Images)

Where is the Jules Rimet trophy today?

The original Jules Rimet trophy was stolen a second time in 1983 from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.

Despite a huge hunt to retrieve the trophy, the original Jules Rimet trophy has never been found. The CBF commissioned a replica trophy in 1984 which has taken its place in the Brazilian headquarters.

The FA also commissioned a replica back in 1966 following the first theft and that was bought by the FIFA in an auction in 1997.

Who has won the World Cup?

In the last 92 years, eight different countries have been crowned World Cup champions - five of which have lifted the original Jules Rimet Trophy. Here is a list of all the nations to have lifted football’s most prestigious prize.

Jules Rimet Trophy

  • 1930 - Uruguay
  • 1934 - Italy
  • 1938- Italy
  • 1950 - Uruguay
  • 1954 - West Germany
  • 1958 - Brazil
  • 1962 - Brazil
  • 1966 - England
  • 1970 - Brazil

FIFA World Cup trophy

  • 1974 - West Germany
  • 1978 - Argentina
  • 1982 - Italy
  • 1986 - Argentina
  • 1990 - West Germany
  • 1994 - Brazil
  • 1998 - France
  • 2002 - Brazil
  • 2006 - Italy
  • 2010 - Spain
  • 2014 - Germany
  • 2018 - France