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World Cup 1982: Brazil v Italy and ‘the day soccer died’

Brazil and Socrates celebrate scoring against Italy at the 1982 World Cup
A draw would have put Brazil via right into a semi-final towards Poland

In November 2004, Brazilian soccer legend Socrates made a well-known (and quick) promotional cameo for English non-league facet Garforth Town. As the soccer correspondent for a number one Brazilian newspaper, I arrived within the West Yorkshire city to jot down in regards to the insanity of all of it.

An interview with the legendary midfielder – often known as The Doctor due to his medical diploma but in addition his political engagement – changed into a protracted after-hours chat at a neighborhood pub. Guards and notepads had been down as Socrates, at all times a laid-back character, chatted about soccer with a sincerity that was outstanding even for him.

It was at that pub, such an uncommon setting and so removed from his consolation zone, that Socrates made a placing admission: he had by no means watched again Brazil’s 3-2 defeat by Italy within the 1982 World Cup – none of it. He simply could not bear to.

“I just don’t need to go through that game again,” he stated. And it’s fairly possible that refusal remained till January 2011, when he died on the age of 57.

“That game” was a World Cup traditional performed on a scorching Barcelona afternoon 40 years in the past. One of essentially the most feted generations of Brazilian footballers noticed their desires shattered by an Italian facet that remodeled over the match, placing a stuttering begin behind them on the way in which to demolishing West Germany within the ultimate.

With the passing of time, many older Brazilian followers have mellowed, however on 5 July 1982 the sensation was {that a} crime towards soccer had been dedicated.

Short presentational grey line

In 1982, Brazil was nonetheless dominated by the navy regime that had seized energy 18 years earlier, when left-wing president Joao Goulart was ousted in a coup.

Joao Figueiredo, an Army normal, had develop into president in 1979 with the mission of overseeing a easy return to democratic methods, however there have been rising requires a quicker handover throughout what was a turbulent time for the Brazilian financial system.

It was on this context that Tele Santana was introduced as the brand new Brazil soccer supervisor in early 1980. Santana had been a very good participant – a winger who scored 164 targets in 9 years with Rio de Janeiro facet Fluminense. He nonetheless ranks as their fourth-highest scorer.

Santana additionally constructed a repute for honest play. He had by no means been despatched off in his 12-year skilled profession. He demanded the identical perspective from his gamers.

Qualifiers for the 1982 World Cup in Spain began with scrappy 1-0 and 2-1 away wins over Venezuela and Bolivia, however Brazil quickly hit a formidable stride within the dwelling video games, beating the identical opponents 5-0 and 3-1. In a May 1981 European tour, they raised eyebrows by beating England, France and Germany within the house of some days.

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But Brazil had been doing greater than successful. They had been enjoying a fluid recreation that might not have been extra totally different to the tactically disciplined type that had infuriated followers within the post-Pele period.

The exploits of Pele and Brazil on the 1970 World Cup had appeared like a protracted forgotten dream throughout uninspired campaigns within the two following tournaments, regardless of the staff ending within the final 4 on each events.

Now, in addition to Socrates, the Selecao had Zico, the mercurial Flamengo playmaker, pulling the reins. Theirs was a flowing model of soccer the place no participant appeared to the touch the ball greater than twice earlier than passing it spherical. It was nice to look at and, based on Zico, it felt even higher to play.

“We were adamant Brazil had to abide by the style that had made it famous. It would be wrong from the start to be scared of losing or to be a hostage of the result,” he says.

“We wanted to enjoy what we were doing. We felt that something really special was going on.”

So did thousands and thousands of Brazilians. In the streets, bunting was going up as if in preparation for a royal marriage ceremony or a coronation. At a time throughout which Brazilian gamers had been largely plying their commerce domestically – Roma’s Falcao a uncommon exception – you may stumble upon a global star on a visit to a Rio grocery store.

“Supporters would never hold back from giving us an earful, but at least they identified with us because we were all playing in Brazil at the time,” Zico says.

“These days players pretty much jump on a plane and fly abroad almost immediately after they play with the national team in Brazil.”

Socrates
Socrates was 50 years outdated when he got here out of retirement to play for Garforth Town

Expectations across the staff had been understandably excessive, and in Spain Brazil opened their World Cup marketing campaign with a dramatic 2-1 win over the Soviet Union earlier than thrashing Scotland 4-1 and New Zealand 4-0.

The match began with 24 groups in six teams of 4. The six group winners and runners-up went via to a second group stage. The 4 winners of these teams of three would contest the semi-finals.

Brazil discovered themselves within the firm of regional rivals Argentina and an Italy facet that had drawn all three of their first-round video games, barely making it out of a bunch that featured Poland, Cameroon and Peru.

Italy’s build-up to the match had been outlined by the state of affairs surrounding striker Paolo Rossi. In 1980 Rossi was concerned in a match-fixing scandal and his two-year suspension ended solely eight weeks earlier than the beginning of the World Cup. Manager Enzo Bearzot nonetheless included the Juventus striker in his squad.

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Coverage within the nation’s media and the perspective of followers made for a sombre temper once they lined as much as play Argentina on 29 June. Ninety minutes later they’d gained their first match in Spain. When Argentina had been then put to the sword by Brazil in a blistering 3-1 win, the scene was set for a decisive showdown between two enjoying types that could not be extra contrasting.

Italy celebrate in the 1982 final against West Germany
Italy’s victory over West Germany within the 1982 ultimate featured Marco Tardelli’s iconic celebration

“You play there. Is there anything you want to say?”

Santana fired this query on the finish of a staff speak in Barcelona. Falcao was already anxious in regards to the winner-takes-all recreation to be performed towards Italy at Espanyol’s now demolished Sarria stadium.

The Roma midfielder could be going through well-known opponents, and he feared his Brazil team-mates had the improper concept about the actual hazard they offered, due to their stumbling begin.

When prompted by the supervisor, Falcao expressed his fear in regards to the potential position of Italian left-back Antonio Cabrini, a skilful participant who was fairly helpful in assault. And that defender Claudio Gentile would in all probability follow Zico like glue, aiming to repeat what he had achieved towards a sure Diego Maradona within the earlier recreation.

Italy’s was a mode of play that may very well be positioned in complete opposition to Brazil’s adventurous dedication in assault. They knew easy methods to shut down and counter opponents – victory over Argentina confirmed it, a victory that revitalised them – however they would want to fireplace up entrance, too, to be able to overcome the Brazilians. And their important striker Rossi had but to attain within the competitors.

“That Brazil side wasn’t from this planet,” Rossi instructed me in 2006. “It had players who could pass the ball blindfolded.

“As for me, it simply felt I used to be studying to play once more after the suspension.”

In the Brazil camp, the mood couldn’t be more different.

“Some of the lads had been teasing me and saying it should have been fairly straightforward to earn a dwelling in Serie A,” Falcao says.

Defender Oscar would later remember that some players were already discussing the weaknesses and strengths of Poland, the opponents waiting in the semi-finals.

Brazil would qualify with a draw – for they had a better goal difference – but Zico recalls: “In the dressing room earlier than the sport, Tele (Santana) by no means instructed us to carry again. Our dedication was at all times to go for the win, that was the true Brazilian means.”

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Brazil celebrate scoring against Argentina at the 1982 World Cup
Brazil would subsequent win the World Cup in 1994 – beating Italy on penalties within the ultimate

Much of the crowd in Barcelona had not yet even found their seats when Cabrini whipped a cross and Rossi headed in. With five minutes gone, Italy were 1-0 up and Rossi had broken his duck.

Brazil hit back shortly after through Socrates, but fell behind again in the 25th minute when Rossi latched on to a woeful loose ball in the Brazilian backline. When they equalised once more in the 68th minute, Falcao’s screaming celebration was not only a reflection of joy but also the urgency of almost choking on his chewing gum.

At 2-2, Brazil had the result they needed to progress. But with a little over a quarter of an hour to go, from an Italian corner won against the run of play, Rossi got his hat-trick. Israeli referee Abraham Klein then wrongfully disallowed another Italian goal for offside before blowing the final whistle on what would be forever known in Brazil as the “Sarria Tragedy”.

Its legacy can be seen in the more pragmatic and physical styles that would become more popular in the country over the next generation. When Brazil beat Italy on penalties to win the 1994 World Cup, nobody could say they played with the same swagger.

Italy, meanwhile, followed the upset in Barcelona by beating Poland in the semi-finals with a Rossi brace before winning their third world title by overcoming West Germany in Madrid. The formerly disgraced striker, who died in 2020 at the age of 64, also scored in the final (3-1) and took home the Golden Boot.

“We had been clearly saddened by the outcome towards Italy however everyone had clear consciences,” Zico recollects.

“There is nothing improper in dropping with dignity, it is part of the sport. The Selecao was going dwelling however we had stood by our convictions till the top.”

Falcao, who observed the 20th anniversary of the match by publishing a book of recollections of the 1982 campaign, also puts on a brave face when looking back.

“That staff misplaced that recreation however gained a spot in historical past. I’m grateful to have been a part of one the best World Cup matches,” he says.

But some of the team felt defeat more deeply, few people more so than Socrates.

Twenty-two years after the events in Barcelona, on a cold night in West Yorkshire, he was still struggling to come to terms with it.

“We had a hell of a staff and performed with happiness,” he said, barely raising his eyes from the pint glass he was holding.

“Then Rossi had three touches and scored a hat-trick. Football as we all know it died on that day.”

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