France’s First World Cup Captain Later Executed After Siding With Nazis

France was one of four European countries to take a long boat trip to Uruguay for the inaugural World Cup in 1930. They were joined by Yugoslavia, Romania and Belgium. France opened its tournament with a dominating 4-1 win over Mexico in front of a crowd of 4,444 at Estadio Pocitos in Montevideo. Lucien Laurent scored in the 19th minute of that game to put his name in the record books as the first World Cup scorer in history.

Captaining the team that Sunday afternoon was Alexandre Villaplane. He would later say that this was “the happiest day of my life.” He ended up playing 25 times for his national team from 1925-30 as well as a number of times for six different French clubs, including RC Paris and Nice. However, a sign of things to come ended his club career as his final season of play concluded in 1935 with him in prison after he played a role in fixing horse races. He has also been suspected of match-fixing within his own sport.

During the following years, Villaplane became involved in other nefarious activities such as gold smuggling. In 1940, Paris fell under control of the Nazis, and he used that opportunity to provide he and the gang that he was involved with quite a bit of riches. Simply put, they essentially became Nazis as they had their own SS uniforms and did things like search for Jews. Over the next few years, Villaplane and his group earned quite a reputation for their brutality.

One of the most chilling things that he did occurred on June 11, 1944. On this day, Villaplane ordered the death of 11 resistance members. But times quickly changed in the coming months as France was liberated on Aug. 25 of that year, he was sentenced to death on Dec. 1, and he was put to death on Dec. 26.