Luigi Colàusig with Italy’s jersey.
Italy’s victory in the France Rimet Cup of 1938.

Luigi Colàusig

A name stolen from history

Enrico Cavalieri
Enrico Cavalieri Istituto Comprensivo Porretta Terme. FMH contributor

Only three football players were able to score a hattrick in a World Cup final match: every football fan knows about Kylian Mbappé’s astonishing performance in the unlucky (for France) latest edition. In 2015 US player Carli Anne Lloyd was the first woman to do it in the victorious 5-2 against Japan, while Geoff Hurst, with some mystery, did it for the first time ever in England-Germany of 1966. But what about doubles? Who was the first multiple scorer in a WC final match?

Back to 1938

To answer, we need to go back to the 1938 WC final match, at Colombes stadium of Paris, when coach Vittorio Pozzo’s Italy beat Hungary 4-2. The two double-scorers for the light-blue team (the color of Savoys, royal family in that period) were Luigi Colàusig and Silvio Piola, the former being the first footballer ever to score a double in a World Cup final match. But at that time almost nobody called him by his real surname, because fascist authorities had changed it to Colaussi, which sounded more Italian.

Born Austrian, fascism changed his surname

Colàusig was born in a little town of the Austrian Empire, which had been annexed to the Kingdom of Italy after the Great War. The italianization of surnames, toponyms and words was part of fascist politics of annihilating minorities, specially the linguistic ones, such as the German and Slavic-talking of the recently conquered territories. Thousands of people had to change their surname, usually translating in Italian the meaning of it, even if it sounded completely different, such as Jugovac (“southern”) in Meriggioli, or Vodopivec (“drink water”) in Bevilacqua.

People were forbidden to write and talk in their mother language, toponyms were changed, newspapers which were published in other languages were censored or closed and foreign words disappeared from the public speech.

Silent end

Colàusig had a good career as a football player in Triestina for all the 1930s, then in Juventus FC, LR Vicenza and Padova, but when he finished as a player he coached only youth teams. In the 1960s the Italian Federation also charged him to be the head of a special youth programme in Libya, but the project completely sank after Colonel Gadafi’s revolution in 1969. He came back to Italy and opened a bar, but some economic difficulties forced him even to sell the 1938 gold medal.

Thinking points

We don’t know about any protest from Colàusig, a man with poor origin and probably no interest in conflict, but how would it be to reach international fame with a name that a dictatorship has imposed on you?

Find out more

It’s very hard to find English material about Colausig, here his stats as a football player. There is a video of the 1938 WC final match on YouTube, and Football and Life has a great article for Italian readers. More images of Luigi Colàusig can be found on Wikipedia.

A football player reached international fame with his surname changed.

Life Story 121

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Italy’s victory in the France Rimet Cup of 1938.
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