The Beautiful Team in numbers

Pele labelled football ‘The Beautiful Game’. It was romantically befitting. He later baptised Brazil’s boys of 1970 as ‘The Beautiful Team’.

On the 50th anniversary of their coronation, delivers the intriguing statistics behind that unforgettable, exhilarating FIFA World Cup™-winning side.

days before the World Cup kicked off, Brazil sacked the man who masterminded their perfect qualification campaign. General Medici, the president of a nation under military dictatorship, had pressured Joao Saldanha to pick the on-fire Dario. The bull-headed coach responded: “The president chooses his ministry. I chose my team.” Then, on 17 March 1970, Saldanha announced his side for an upcoming friendly against Chile. He had dropped Pele. A few hours later he was unemployed and swiftly replaced by Mario Zagallo.
goals is what Brazil scored in Mexico – the second-highest total by a World Cup winner after West Germany in 1954 (25 goals). With four goals and six assists, Pele was involved in over half of them. No player has since managed as many assists in one edition of the tournament – Robert Gadocha, Pierre Littbarski, Diego Maradona, Thomas Hassler registered five.
seconds: that is the time between Jairzinho winning possession 73 metres from goal and netting from inside the opposition area in the 3-1 win over Uruguay in the semi-finals. The goal helped the suitably-nicknamed Furacão (Hurricane) become the second player to score in each of a World Cup-winning side’s matches. Uruguay had contested just four games when Alcides Ghiggia managed the achievement in 1950, but Jairzinho bagged a brace in Brazil’s opener against Czechoslovakia and a goal in each of their next five appearances – not bad for a man who finished his first World Cup having scored just once in 17 internationals. Jairzinho remains the only player to have posted more than six goals in a World Cup and not finished as its leading marksman – a distinction that went to West Germany Gerd Muller (ten goals).
months before Mexico 1970 began Tostao, who the previous month had been the principal star of Brazil’s successful qualification campaign (ten goals in six games), was told he would never be able to play football again. A clearance from Corinthians defender Ditao had smashed the 22-year-old Cruzeiro icon in the eye, causing a detached retina which medics feared would leave him permanently blinded. After surgery in Houston, Texas, he was cleared to return to training just two-and-a-half months before the World Cup. Tostao was initially scared of heading the ball, however, and Zagallo and Brazil doctor Lidio Toledo both felt inclined to overlook him, until 11th-hour persuasion from Pele helped convince them otherwise. A nutmeg on Bobby Moore, two goals and four assists later and Tostao had a winners’ medal, which he gave to Doctor Roberto Abdalla – the man who had operated on him in Houston.
players under the age of 21 made Brazil’s squad – no other country had more than one. Marco Antonio was one of three teenagers at the tournament, while Clodoaldo, Edu, Leao and Paulo Cesar Caju were four of the five 20-year-olds. Edu eclipsed Pele as the youngest player to go to his second World Cup.
players in four seconds is what Clodoaldo – a defensive midfielder – danced past en route to Carlos Alberto’s iconic goal in the Final. The No5 employed rapid footwork, hip–shakes and shimmies to deceive Gianni Rivera, Angelo Domenghini, Giancarlo De Sisti and Antonio Juliano – within a seemingly non-existent space. All but two of Brazil’s outfield players – Everaldo and Wilson Piazza – were involved in the move, which culminated in O Capitão galloping down the right and lashing Pele’s pass into the bottom corner.
minutes: that is the time by which Pele missed out on becoming the first man to score in four World Cups. O Rei fired Brazil ahead against Czechoslovakia in their opener just before the hour, only to discover that West Germany’s Uwe Seeler had pipped him to the distinction. Only one other played has netted in more than three editions of the tournament: Germany’s Miroslav Klose.
of Brazil’s three fitness trainers at Mexico 1970 went on to coach the country at a World Cup – despite neither having ever played football professionally. Claudio Coutinho, a former captain in the Brazilian army who had studied at NASA, led them at Argentina 1978. He died three years later in a scuba-diving accident near Ipanema Beach. Carlos Alberto Parreira guided A Seleção to glory in 1994 and the quarter-finals in 2006.
team in history boasts a 100-per-cent record in qualifying for and games at a World Cup. Brazil won all of their six Mexico 1970 preliminaries and each of their six matches at the tournament. The country’s 2002 side is the only other with a perfect record at a World Cup, but they drew three and lost six of their qualifiers for that edition.
piece of clothing is what Tostao got back to the Brazilian dressing room in after the final – his underpants! “They even tried to get them off me!” recalled the Seleção No9 of the souvenir-seeking Mexicans, who had invaded the Azteca turf to rejoice with the men in canary-yellow. Pele at least had one extra garment than his strike partner – though he’d been shorn of his shirt, shorts, socks, shin pads and boots, he was rocking the undies-and-sombrero look!
that is the number of 11-a-side matches, at any level, Dario had participated in until, aged 19, he was imprisoned for the umpteenth time. There, a prison officer persuaded the thief to use his stunning leap, which he’d honed to scale walls and escape chasing policemen, to outjump defenders on football fields. “I played my first [11-a-side] match in jail,” Dario recalled. The Rio de Janeiro native then vowed to turn his life around – but only after he’d committed one last crime. The poverty-stricken Carioca robbed two people for their change and, with it, bought a football. It proved a fruitful purchase – Dada Maravilha (Dada The Wonderful) retired as the second-highest scorer of headed goals in football history after Hungary legend Sandor Kocsis.