In these days of ever-expanding tournaments and free-for-all qualification, it's fairly easy to forget that back in the day, the World Cup wasn't really the World Cup. It was more the Cup of Teams From Around the World Who Could Be Bothered and Afford to Travel - although admittedly, that's a lot harder to fit on a trophy.
The 1934 tournament in Rome was the only edition in the history of the competition not to feature the holders, with Uruguay not coming to Europe on the grounds that, well, the European teams couldn't be bothered to come to Uruguay. Sod 'em.
None of the Home Nations deigned to even try and qualify either - but the far more interesting story comes from one of the federations who did send a team. Egypt travelled to Rome as Africa's sole representative in the 16-team straight knockout bracket, blazing a trail which was quickly followed by---no? No. No other African team qualified for the World Cup until Morocco made it to the finals in 1970; a full 36 years later.
The qualification process wasn't the drawn out two-year affair that teams go through now, winning a two-legged tie against a 'Mandatory Palestine' team comprised largely of British players, which FIFA have since described as the forerunner of the Israel national team rather than the modern Palestinian side.
Mahmoud Mokhtar - El Tetsh to his legions of fans - came into the ties as Egypt's start man, with an Olympic hat-trick to his name against Turkey (who pulled out of the three-way playoff with Egypt and Mandatory Palestine, possibly to avoid a repeat) in 1928. He duly hammered home a hat-trick in a 7-1 win in front of (officially) 13,000 people in Cairo before helping his team finish the job off with two more goals in a 4-1 victory in the second leg in Tel-Aviv.
The 11-2 aggregate win ensured that despite the Home Nations' refusal to enter the tournament, there would be home British representation at the finals in Rome in the shape of the Pharaohs' Scottish manager James McRea.
McRea had a successful playing career after the First World War, playing over 180 Football League matches including West Ham's first in League football - a 1-1 draw at home to Lincoln - but it's his off-field legacy which made him such an influential figure in Egyptian football.
1934 FIFA World Cup Debutants;— Richard Samuel (@richardlnsasia) January 12, 2018
Two of the players who played in that 7-1 thrashing of Mandatory Palestine ended up in Scottish football for a period thanks to McRea's influence, right-sided forward
1934, Late Abdulrahman Fawzi (Egypt) was the first African player to score at the FIFA world cup pic.twitter.com/oJubdVRS4z— AFRICAN FACTS (@TheAfricanVault) October 18, 2017
"The Hungarians' fourth goal came from a serious foul against me," he fumed, 68 years after the fact. "I caught the ball from a cross but their striker hit me with his knees in my chest. His elbow broke my nose and he even pushed me behind the goal-line."
Even the local newspapers criticised
The echoes of that late afternoon in Naples still appear in football record books today. Since Fawzi was denied his third goal, not a single African footballer has scored a hat-trick at a World Cup. Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri notched the tournament's 50th in Brazil back in 2014, with his Premier League rival Mohamed Salah arguably the most likely to break his continent's duck in Russia.
Abdelghani's goal from the spot remains the last scored by an Egyptian at any World Cup, with six consecutive failures to qualify ended by Salah's dramatic 95th minute penalty against Congo last October.
Until this summer though - and possibly even beyond it - the 1934 side remain the gold standard for Egyptian teams at the World Cup. 30 years after he passed away at the age of 79 in Cairo, Fawzi remains the nation's leading scorer in World Cup matches. If he were alive, it's hard to imagine he would begrudge being overtaken 84 years after his dramatic brace in Naples.