Sunday, June 24, 2007

A true classic

The Guardian published the original report from the 1970 World Cup final in its website. While it proves very interesting reading, I have to admit that what really caught my attention was the post I attach below, from a reader called HarperSmythe.

Once again, the blog comments are better than the actual post. Once again, I praise the beauty of the world wide web as a means of communication and expression, as I did a while ago. Once again watching the goals in YouTube is a brilliant complement. And as much as Carlos Alberto's goal has achieved artwork status, I can't get enough of watching the 2-1 by Gerson.

Well, thank you "HarperSmythe". And let me take the liberty of publishing this.

No one has yet posted some churlish comment about how they hate Brazil, its fans, etc. (something I see often on this site) -- or how lousy we are now (which we are).

I can only thank the Guardian CiF for this. The 1970 and the 1982 team means so much to us. Since then we've had glimpses of greatness with certain individual players, but it's never been the same. It was the defeat in 1982 (and esp. after our poorest world cup in 1990) that started our national football on the road toward becoming more like the harder game in Europe and turning our backs on creating magic and beauty on the pitch. The vision of the CBF today is a suffocating one, whereas the Argentines still keep to their traditions.

In 1970 I was 10 years old and my family had emigrated to the US in 1964. We lived in a Portuguese/Brazilian enclave in Massachusetts. At that time it was very difficult for us to keep track of football (any football, not just Brazilian) but we'd usually manage to get some radio or TV coverage. But in 1968 some members of my family had decided they just couldn't stand the torture any more of figuring out how to follow the wc from the US, so they decided to plan ahead and save, take some time off, fly to Brazil and watch it with family there. My mother couldn't afford the trip but at the very last minute one of my uncles saw how much I wanted to go and bought my mother and I tickets. She spent 3 years paying him back.

In Rio, my mother's side of the family had no TV sets (tho their neighbors had) but my father's side in Sao Paulo did. They were all black and white of course. We visited both the Rio and Sao Paulo families and watched various games with lots of family and friends around. I had the time of my young life.

For the final, we were in my father's home town of Piedade (interior of Sao Paulo) and we saw the final in a large church hall and 2 small TV sets. Several radios were there too. Lots of Brazilian flags, lots of drink and food. About 50-60 people were there, with dozens more milling around outside. We loved the entire squad but Gerson & Carlos Alberto were my family's particular heroes because of the clubs they had played for and where they were from originally. Some people brought the Italian flag since many of us were descendants of Italian immigrants.

I remember the reaction of everyone around me after the second Brazilian goal. One minute there was loud talking and drinking, the next moment it was as if everyone lost their voice--it felt like a hush that would last forever, and then suddenly the loudest cheer I'd ever heard. My favorite uncle and aunt both turned to me, hugged and kissed me, and shouted "Brazil's going to win!" The game was a blur to me, I just remember Brazil scoring, Pele jumping around in joy and that second goal. I do not remember sleeping at all that night. I don't remember seeing anyone sleep that night.

We all loved the '82 squad too but the emotional attachment we have for the 1970 squad is in a category all its own. To this day, these guys make us cry. It was Pele's last wc. I once visited Carlos Alberto's school in Rio and saw him give a talk about how much the Brazilian game has lost because clubs refuse to train small, weaker kids who have skill and technique in favor of recruiting tall athletes with less skill on the ball. He still had his sense of joy in the game.

I watched him train a group of young kids (boys and girls), telling them that they should "kiss the ball, embrace it, show that it is safe only with you." I got choked up listening to him. Once in Rio in a restaurant I saw Jairzinho with his wife. I almost broke into tears. My boyfriend and I were about to leave and we tried not to look too much but Jairzinho looked at us and gave us a huge smile. I said something like "we will always love you" and left very quickly.

In 1970, Deus foi Brasileiro sim (God was Brazilian).

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