"There was complete silence. The crowd was frozen still . It was like they weren't even breathing," he recalls. "They couldn't even raise their voices to cheer on Brazil. That was when I realised they weren't going to do it and that we'd won."
The slicked-back hair is thinner now, the pencil-thin moustache grey. But at 87, Ghiggia, the sole survivor from that 1950 winning team, is still recognisable as the pivotal figure of arguably the greatest upset in World Cup history.
Few expected a Uruguay victory. Certainly, no Brazilians did. A day earlier, São Paulo's Gazeta Esportiva newspaper proclaimed: "Tomorrow we will beat Uruguay!" Rio's O Mundo printed a photo of the Brazilian squad accompanied by the caption: "These are the world champions."
After a goalless first half, one minute into the second period Brazil took the lead through Friaca. But in the 66th minute, Uruguay's Juan Alberto Schiaffino equalised after connecting with Ghiggia's cross into the box.
The goal quietened the partisan crowd. But as victory in this World Cup was determined by points, rather than knock-out phases, a draw would still have seen Brazil crowned champions.
Ghiggia, a gifted right-winger in his prime, able to dribble the ball at great speed, has told the story of what happened next thousands of times. He tells it sparingly, matter-of-factly, with no sentimental indulgence.
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"I took the ball on the right," he recalls. "I dribbled past Bigode [the Brazilian left-back] and entered the box. The goalkeeper [Moacyr Barbosa] thought I was going to cross it, like with the first goal, so he left a gap between himself and the near post. I just had a second so I shot low between the keeper and the post."
The ramifications of that moment, 11 minutes from the end of the match, are still felt acutely to this day.
For Brazil the result was considered a national catastrophe. The match remains etched solemnly on the national consciousness as O Maracanaço (a Portuguese term roughly translated as 'The Maracana Blow', which became synonymous with the match). With just a touch of hyperbole, not to mention bad taste, the Brazilian writer Nelson Rodrigues referred to the defeat as "our Hiroshima".
Vilified by their fans, many of the squad slunk into retirement; others were never selected again. With the home strip, a white shirt with a blue collar, now considered jinxed, Brazil then adopted its famous yellow and green uniform. Five World Cup victories followed, but they have never fully erased the trauma of that defeat.
Barbosa, the Brazilian goalkeeper, never got over it. His miscalculation made him the obvious scapegoat. Despite a long career with the Rio de Janeiro club Vasco, he only played once more for the national team. Colleagues shunned him. After he was barred from visiting the Brazilian squad ahead of the 1994 World Cup, he told reporters, "In Brazil, the maximum penalty for a crime is 30 years; I've spent 44 years paying for a crime I didn't even commit."
Ghiggia travelled there from his home in the small city of Las Piedras, about an hour north of the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo.
Between two of its central streets, down a narrow whitewashed alley, the World Cup winner lives in a modest semi-detached bungalow, with his 40-year-old wife, Beatriz, and their large German shepherd dog.
On the walls of the front room hang the many trophies he collected in a career spanning 24 years, six clubs, and two countries. Above the fireplace is a line drawing of the player in profile, aged 24, signed by all the members of the Uruguayan squad. Opposite, an oil painting of the Maracana, as seen from above, on 16 July 1950, the day of their famous victory.