Gilmar, Mauro, Nilton Santos, Zito, Zagallo, Mengalvio, Pepe, Garrincha, Pele, Amarildo and Coutinho shared in the ultimate ecstasy on 17 June 1962. That’s when they hugged one another – some in floods of tears, others with deafening cheers – to celebrate helping Brazil defend their FIFA World Cup™ Trophy.
Yet nine months later, the 11 aforementioned men were divided into enemy armies to duel for another prestigious title. The fact that 12 members of Aymore Moreira’s Chile 1962-conquering squad came from either Botafogo or Santos (the former’s Didi also played at that tournament) was a testament to the fact that the two teams were the most formidable in Brazil at the time.
O Fogão went into the first leg of the Taca Brasil – a precursor to the Campeonato Brasileiro – on 19 March 1963 as the Campeonato Carioca and Torneio Rio-Sao Paulo holders. O Peixe were the reigning state, national, continental and world champions.
Two goals from the vicious left boot of Pepe helped Santos win 4-3 at the Pacaembu in Sao Paulo. Twelve days later, Edison, Quarentinha and Amarildo got the goals as Botafogo won the return match 3-1 in front of over 100,000 at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. With goal difference not in operation, the title would be decided by a third game.
Given that it would unfold in the Maracana, local side Botafogo were the favourites, and they duly started brightly, with Garrincha and Quarentinha tormenting the Santos backline. However, as the half wore on, the visitors began to take control and on 25 minutes right-winger Dorval fired them in front, before the man on the opposite flank, Pepe, rocketed the ball home to send Lula’s troops in at the break 2-0 up.
The second half was all Santos. Following fine play from Pele, Coutinho made it 3-0 nine minutes after the restart. Then Pele benefitted from superb invention from Mengalvio to lob Manga and increase the lead, before completing his double – and a resounding 5-0 victory – with ten minutes remaining.
Botafogo and Santos engaged in several enrapturing tussles while Garrincha and Pele – their respective all-time greatest players – were in their zeniths. This one, 50 years ago to this day, indubitably belonged to O Rei and Co. Santos had won the second of five consecutive Taca Brasil crowns. Furthermore, they had recorded what remains their biggest-ever defeat of Botafogo since the sides maiden meeting: an 8-2 thrashing in a 1918 friendly at the Vila Belmiro.