"For England, the game would turn into the waking equivalent of an anxiety dream in which it was impossible to do the one essential thing which should have been so farcically easy--to score goals. . . . The England attack quickly set up camp in the American half, hit the post, shot over the bar and, all in all, they seemed to be comfortably adjusting their sights. In the meantime, the excellence of Borghi in goal and the resilience of the halfback line of McIlvenny, Colombo and Bahr kept them at bay.
"Eight minutes from halftime, the incredible happened. Bahr shot from the left, Williams seemed to have the ball covered when in went Gaetjens with his head to deflect it out of his reach. Did he (Gaetjens) head it or did it hit him? There were supporters of both views, but the question was irrelevant. The goal was valid."
Keough and Bahr, who went on to become two of the United States' top collegiate soccer coaches, Keough at St. Louis University and Bahr at Penn State, provided the description from the players' viewpoint.
"It definitely didn't hit Gaetjens accidentally. You've got to know a little bit about Gaetjens, the type of person he was. Joe was a free spirit many years before the word \o7 free spirit \f7 was coined. Joe was a happy-go-lucky guy. Later, when he went to Paris to play, Joe told me that he always played better if he could go out and carouse a little bit before the game than if you locked him up. He performed better, he said.
"Joe Gaetjens was the kind of guy who didn't like to wear his socks rolled up. He'd say to me, 'Harry, Harry, they want me to . . . ' and I'd say, 'Joe, wait till the game starts and then let them fall down.' Then his jersey was a little too tight, a little too small for him, so he just ripped it down the front. I mean they wouldn't have tolerated a player like that on the England team, but Joe was just that type of guy.
"In any case, the first time I ever saw Joe Gaetjens was in that tryout game in St. Louis, but Walter Bahr had told me about him. He said, 'Harry, this guy Gaetjens is a little silly, a little cuckoo, whatever you want to call it, but he makes some of the most uncanny goals you ever saw.' This was long before he made the most uncanny goal of his career.
"Bahr . . . took a shot at the goal from the right half position, I'd say from about 35 yards out. The ball that he hit was about four foot off the ground and it looked hard, but it didn't look like it had any defect on it.
"Joe Gaetjens was standing pretty close to the penalty spot and he dove headlong at the ball--I mean he must have dove 12, 14 feet when you count where his feet were to where his head hit the ball. I don't know what he was trying to do. I don't think he even knew what he was trying to do.
"If he had made what you'd call direct contact with that ball, flush with his head, then I think it would have gone toward the corner flag. Obviously, he made some kind of contact with it, because the ball disappeared as far as Bert Williams, myself or anybody else was concerned. It must have changed the speed and trajectory of the ball, and the next thing we knew, Bert and everybody else, the ball was behind him in the goal.
"Now how the hell it went in, over his shoulder, through his legs, I can't say. It didn't go in the opposite corner, it went in right behind him.
"It certainly was a lucky goal. That nobody can doubt. But it wasn't accidental. I don't mean that Joe Gaetjens made shots like this around the clock, but Joe was--what's the right word?--an eccentric, flashy-type of player. I don't mean he made a bunch of goals like that, but, like I said, Walter Bahr had used the phrase \o7 uncanny. \f7 "Well, that was the most uncanny goal probably of his career. It wouldn't happen again in a thousand tries."
And from Bahr, who took the shot:
"All I can tell you is what I've repeated a thousand times. Eddie McIlvenny had a throw-in from the right-hand side of the field. I got the throw-in from him and I controlled the ball, took it toward the penalty area and it seems to me I took the shot from some 25 yards out on the right-hand side of the goal. The shot was well hit. It was going to the goalkeeper's right, to the opposite side. There was no question that he had to make the move to the far post to get to the ball, and I'm sure he would have gotten the ball.
"But Joe Gaetjens--and this is the controversial part; the English magazines say that the ball inadvertently hit Joe in the ear or the head or something and went into the goal. This point I don't know.
"All I do know is that I played with and against Joe for about five years, and he was probably as acrobatic as any center forward I played with or against. He would score impossible goals, he would reach around people and over people and so forth. He was like (former West Germany star) Gerd Mueller in that he was a goal scorer.