Fifty years ago this month I first saw the magical Brazil team in the Mexico 1970 Word Cup. I wanted England to win, but I was captivated by the flowing football of Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, and Tostao.
In their opening game, Brazil beat Czechoslovakia 4-1 with spectacular goals from Rivelino, Pele, and Jairzinho twice.
They then beat England 1-0 in one of the best football matches I have seen. It had that save by Banks, that tackle by Moore, that miss by Astle, and that goal by Jairzinho.
Brazil rested some players for their final group game, in which they qualified for the knockout stages by beating Romania 3-2. Pele scored twice and Jairzinho added another.
In a thrilling all South American quarter-final, they beat Peru 4-2 with goals from Rivelino, Tostao twice, and unsurprisingly Jairzinho.
They faced another South American rival in their semi-final. Uruguay scored first, but Clodoaldo, Rivelino, and Jairzinho all scored to give Brazil a 3-1 win.
That game included what was almost the best goal ever scored.
Brazil beat Italy 4-1 in the best World Cup final I have seen. Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto scored. No other player since Jairzinho has scored in every game in a World Cup finals tournament.
I can still see the final goal through my wide-open nine-year-old eyes. A meticulous flow of possession ends with Pelé gently passing the ball into an acre of open space. Then, from outside the edge of my telly screen, Carlos Alberto hurtles in and slams a low shot into the net. 4-1!
If that’s not enough, here’s a documentary about Brazil 1970 – the team of the century.