Brazil’s sporting sanctuary has eternally been monopolised by practitioners of what its most celebrated son crowned ‘The Beautiful Game’. However, one non-footballer indubitably resides there alongside Pele, Garrincha, Zico, Ronaldo and Co.
Ayrton Senna won three Formula One World Championships and was revered for his exhilarating driving style until his tragic death, aged 34, at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
Just 11 weeks later, Senna was honoured during Brazil’s FIFA World Cup™-winning celebrations at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Just minutes after their penalty-shootout win over Italy, captain Dunga and star striker Romario paraded a banner reading: ‘Senna… this fourth is ours’. Then, during the squad’s post-match photo on the Rose Bowl turf, the players held a giant poster above them declaring: ‘Senna… we accelerated together. The fourth is ours’.
Senna was honoured again last Wednesday. On the 20th anniversary of his passing, the club he supported, Paulista giants Corinthians, were in action at Nacional-AM in the Copa do Brasil. Fittingly, Mano Menezes’s men walked out at the Arena da Amazonia, which will host England-Italy and USA-Portugal among other matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, wearing replicas of Senna’s Formula One helmet.
Corinthians exalted the eulogy by scoring three unanswered goals – one for each of Senna’s global conquests – to march into the next round.