Brazilians love to hand out nicknames. The country’s 1962 FIFA World Cup™ squad was a case in point. It included ‘The Boss’, ‘‘The Joy of the People’, ‘The Cannon of the Vila’, ‘The Possessed One’, ‘The King’ and ‘Steel Chest’.
Sound like formidable players? Zito, Garrincha, Pepe, Amarildo, Pele and Vava most certainly were.
But had strikers such as Ferenc Puskas of Spain, Englishman Jimmy Greaves and Czechoslovakia’s Adolf Scherer had known the Brazilian who was going to mark them on Chilean soil was nicknamed after Miss Brasil, they would have assumed they would be able to bully him about.
They would have been very much mistaken. Not one of them, indeed, was on the score-sheet when Mauro Ramos was acting as their guard.
The defender was known as Martha Rocha, the maiden Miss Brasil in 1954 and an extremely close runner-up to American Miriam Stevenson in that year’s Miss World, because of his seldom capacity to make tackles and win headers with elegance rather than brute force.
Born in Pocos de Caldas, Minas Gerais in 1930, the defender made his professional debut for Sao Paulo in 1948, helped them to Campeonsato Paulista glory that same year and another three state championships before joining Santos in 1960. At the Vila Belmiro, Mauro formed part of one of the greatest sides in football history. Alongside the likes of Gilmar, Zito, Pepe, Coutinho and Pele, the gentleman helped O Peixe win both the continental and world titles in 1962 and ’63.
Mauro also made history with his country. The teenager impressed as Brazil won what is now known as the Copa America in 1949, yet he was surprisingly left out of Flavio Costa’s squad for the following year’s FIFA World Cup. Mauro suffered personal frustration again four years later, when he was left on the bench during A Seleção’s fruitless campaign in Switzerland, and when he wasn’t afforded any minutes as the Brazilians finally got their hands on the Trophy at Sweden 1958, many felt he would never showcase his talent on world football’s grandest platform.
But that’s something Mauro achieved – and in style. For not only did the man just shy of his 33rd birthday play every minute as Brazil retained their title in Chile, but he did so in the captain’s armband having relegated the great Bellini to the bench.
On 18 September 2002, ten years ago to this Tuesday, Mauro passed away in Pocos de Caldas. Brazil had lost a true gentleman and one of its greatest-ever defenders.