Brazil’s enduring football titan Mario Zagallo dies at 92

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Brazil's enduring football titan Mario Zagallo dies at 92

Mario Zagallo was the first person to win the FIFA World Cup as both a player and a coach. He was a key figure in Brazil’s rise to become a world football power.

Zagallo died on Friday at the age of 92. He was the only living member of the Brazil team that won the World Cup in 1958. It was the country’s first title and a relief after losing badly to Uruguay at the Maracana eight years before.

“I was at the Maracana when Brazil lost to Uruguay. “As a soldier, it was my job to keep people off the pitch,” Zagallo said about the tragedy that caused the whole country to mourn.

“I’ll never forget the silence, the sadness and the disappointment of that defeat.” The famous player Pele passed away in December 2022.

While that image was still fresh in his mind, Zagallo did everything he could to ease the pain by being a part of four of Brazil’s five World Cup wins.

As an amateur player in the 1950s, Zagallo, a small left winger, represented Brazil’s desire to combine attacking flair with defensive solidity. He did this by combining his own superb technique with admirable dedication.

Five state titles in Rio de Janeiro were won by him with Flamengo and Botafogo. He didn’t play his first game for Brazil until he was 26, just before the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. But he quickly became an important part of the team and earned 37 caps.

Brazil’s string of wins

Pele, who was only 17, became famous all over the world at this event. In the final, Brazil beat the hosts 5-2. The last goal was scored by Pele after Zagallo got the fourth goal for his team.

Four years later, Zagallo played every minute as Garrincha led Brazil to victory over Czechoslovakia 3-1 in Santiago, even though Pele got hurt in the group stage. They went on to win the title again.

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