"When we were in the tunnel before the game, waiting to
take to the field, I drew on my experience and said to the other
guys: 'Walk out there calmly and don't look up. The game is
played on the pitch, so never look at the stands.' It was hell
though. As we made our way onto the pitch, we were greeted by the
sound of more than 100,000 people whistling. Later on though, when
the national anthems were played, the crowd applauded us. It was an
imposing stadium, and we knew if we wanted to avoid an embarrassing
defeat, we needed to be able to handle that environment, the way a
bullfighter controls the arena and crowd. We did just that and
managed to win that day."
Obdulio Varela, member ofUruguay's FIFA World Cup-winning side of 1950
"As far as the football world is concerned, my career
effectively began in this stadium. It was there I scored my first
international goal, against Argentina at the age of 15 or 16, and
also where I scored my 1000th career goal. In those days a lot more
people could get into the ground - there were often crowds of
between 150,000 and 170,000. Goal number 1000 came from the penalty
spot. My legs were shaking for the first time ever, and I think I
almost missed it. However, when it went in, the enormous crowd
erupted with chants of 'Pele, Pele'.
Pele, who scored his 1000th career goal at the Maracana in 1969
"Down through its history, only three people have managed
to silence the Maracana: the Pope, Frank Sinatra and me."
Alcides Ghiggia, scorer of Uruguay's winning goal in the decisive final game of the 1950 FIFA World Cup
"Every time I played at the Maracana, I felt very much at
home. It's many years now since I've visited it, but I
don't think it's quite the spectacle it was in those days.
The atmosphere back then was something you couldn't put into
Zico, all-time leading scorer at the Maracana
"I experienced every emotion possible at the Maracana. I
once had a watch stolen from me there that had been given to me by
the King of Sweden after the 1958 World Cup, but I also played in a
friendly there alongside my idol Zizinho. That was one of the most
satisfying moments of my life."
Garrincha, legendary Brazilian international and eighth on the list of leading scorers at the Maracana
"Not just anyone gets a testimonial at the Maracana. I had
some unforgettable moments at the stadium and even worked there in
1950. For me, that's a great source of satisfaction and
Mario Zagallo, a member of the 'Maracana 40' (a list of individuals who journalists chose as having figured most prominently in the history of the stadium).
"Even though it was only a friendly match, scoring against Brazil at the self-same Maracana was a beautiful moment in my career. How many people can say they've done that? I remember even the Brazilian fans applauded us at the end of that game. It was an incredible sensation."
Claudio Lopez, formerArgentinastriker and scorer at the Maracana in 1998.