The sun-drenched sky and the location atop the Corcovado mountain were highly symbolic. It was there, at one of the highest points in the city of Rio de Janeiro with the Maracana stadium in the distance, where the third edition of the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola got underway.
To the sound of Gaby Amarantos, Monobloco and David Correy performing the song "The World is Ours", five former winners of the FIFA World Cup took part in the ceremony marking the start of the 267-day journey the solid-gold trophy is set to embark upon across 89 countries before returning to Brazil in 2014.
There was no shortage of emotion on this special occasion. Zagallo said he felt as if he had been blessed by the statue of Christ the Redeemer towering over his head. Bebeto sought to relive the spirit of USA 1994, cradling the trophy in his lap as he did in the iconic commemoration of his goal against the Netherlands, while Marcos was all smiles. The former champions then shared their thoughts with FIFA.com on getting reacquainted with FIFA World Cup Trophy, something fans right around the globe will also be able to do, thanks to the Trophy Tour.
Zagallo, FIFA World Cup winner in 1958
"This was an occasion of huge importance. We were all there representing Brazil´s five FIFA World Cup triumphs. We were lucky enough to have been invited to visit the statue of Christ the Redeemer, welcoming us with open arms. I´m sure he´s given us his blessing to ensure Brazil lift the trophy once again in 2014."
Amarildo, FIFA World Cup winner in 1962
"This is the most a professional athlete can ever hope to achieve. Brazil needs to take full advantage of the opportunity. The World Cup is the most important competition in the world of football, and it’s being held right here at home. Yes, Brazil still has a debt to settle with its people, dating back to the 1950 World Cup. It’s a stain on our reputation that the people are still waiting to see removed. Holding that trophy is a highly emotional experience, and not everyone is given that privilege. There’s no greater emotion for any athlete than to raise a trophy as a champion. It´s the finest, most beautiful gesture a player can experience in his professional career.”
Rivelino, a FIFA World Cup winner in 1970
"It´s fantastic! If you count all the footballers in the world, and then how many who have actually laid their hands on that trophy, you´ll realise how few there are. I was lucky enough to be one of them. That´s something money can´t buy. And now Coca–Cola is giving you the chance to see the trophy up close. It´s someone else´s turn now, but it all reminds me of 1970, of that marvellous conquest. The trophy gives me goose bumps. Not many people get that feeling.”
Bebeto, a FIFA World Cup winner in 1994
"I just had to swathe it as if it were a baby. That was pure emotion. I remembered the birth of my son during the World Cup, and the goal I scored against the Netherlands. That´s why I was cuddling the trophy like that. I´d been missing it. I lifted that trophy in 1994 and I couldn´t begin to describe the emotion involved. We dream of that trophy all the time. That was always my dream as a child: to win the World Cup and to make history with the Seleção. Seeing the trophy again was like being reunited with a long-lost child. I just cradled it in my arms and lulled it to sleep. It was an indescribable feeling."
Marcos, a FIFA World Cup winner in 2002
"It was a major part of my life. It really is the pinnacle. You leave home, thinking about being a footballer, you sign for a team, and when you get the chance to lift a trophy like that, the World Cup, your whole life flashes before you. Coming face to face with it again was really emotional. We won that trophy, held it aloft, celebrated and everything, but I never thought I´d get near it again. Lifting it high and reminiscing about 2002....not just for me, but for all the great champions who have held it aloft. It´s passed through the hands of the cream of football. That trophy is awash with history.