“Every 16 July I took my phone off the hook, because otherwise it would not stop ringing,” recalled Zizinho, a half-century after, on that day, Brazil were stunned by Uruguay in the deciding match of the 1950 FIFA World Cup™.
It’s an injustice that Zizinho, who passed away, aged 80, in 2002, failed to win that tournament. During it, La Gazzetta dello Sport described him as “a Leonardo da Vinci, creating works of art with his feet on the immense canvas of the Maracana pitch”, while he finished it with the best player award ahead of Juan Schiaffino and Ademir de Menezes.
Zizinho, Pele’s childhood hero, did nevertheless seize a host of honours with Flamengo, Bangu and Sao Paulo. The attacking midfielder also inspired Brazil to a 7-0 thumping of Paraguay in the Copa America 1949 decider, and hit 30 goals in 53 internationals.