World Cup's Craziest Moments: Brazil Crushes the Soviets | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


World Cup's Craziest Moments: Brazil Crushes the Soviets

Stephen Brennan, a Brit, teacher, and soccer fanatic, will tell the World Cup's craziest moments over the next few days. This is the second installment. Read the first one here.

On the eve of the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden, the Brazilian team's psychologist, Dr. Joao Carvalhaes advised the Brazilian head coach Vicente Feola that two players should not go. The 17 year old Pele, and the comparably seasoned Garrincha. For Dr. Carvalhaes, Pele was "too infantile", lacking the necessary fighting spirit. Garrincha, who had proved to be a loose cannon on and off the pitch in recent times, was not seen as responsible enough. Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano explains, "[Garrincha] was the one who would climb out of the training camp window because he heard from some far-off back alley call of a ball asking to be played with, music demanding to be danced to, a woman wanting to be kissed."

Nevertheless, coach Feola, decided to take the two players to Sweden, and played them together in their final group match against the strong, feared and highly fancied Soviet Union. Directly from the kick off, Garrincha received the ball on the right wing, beat three opposing players and took a shot which hit the post. With the match still only 45 seconds old, he set up a chance for Pelé, who hit the crossbar. By three minutes the Brazilians were 1 - 0 up.

For the remainder of the game, Garrincha would continue to dumfound the Soviet defenders with his looping runs, dancing over their attempts to bring him down, at one point even offering his hand to help up a defender who had fallen to the ground in his wake, before resuming his dribbling run toward goal.

Biographer Ruy Castro describes his effect on the Soviets... "Their proud "scientific" football had never before been so demoralized, and by the most improbable source: a poor Brazilian peasant -- dark-skinned, small as a bird, cock-eyed and with ridiculously crooked legs. Garrincha was a perfect example of anti-science; he was anti-Sputnik, anti-electronic brain..."

Meanwhile, Pele would set up Brazil's second goal, before setting the tournament alight in the latter stages, including a hat-trick in the semifinal, and two goals against the hosts in the final to give Brazil the first of their five titles.

Whether or not Dr. Joao Carvalhaes kept his job, is unknown.

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Steve Brennan

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