Brazil is mourning the loss of another of its world champions, former central defender Hilderaldo Luis Bellini, who captained the side that won the country’s first FIFA World Cup™ in 1958.
The former Seleção skipper died in Sao Paulo on Thursday and will be buried in his home town of Itapira, in Sao Paulo state, on Friday. He was 83.
Bellini was a reliable presence in the rearguard of a side that took the world by storm at Sweden 1958 and featured rising stars Pele and Garrincha up front.
Following Brazil’s 5-2 defeat of the tournament hosts in the Final, Bellini broke with protocol by lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy high above his head, a gesture now seen at every trophy presentation and since repeated by Mauro, Carlos Alberto Torres, Dunga and Cafu, Brazil’s four other World Cup-winning skippers.
A member of the side that went on to retain the world title at Chile 1962, Bellini captained the national team again twice at England 1966, his third world finals.
Playing alongside him in England were fellow Sweden 1958 veterans Djalma Santos and Gylmar, who sadly passed away last year, as did Nilton Santos and Nilton de Sordi, two other distinguished members of that legendary pioneering side.
A strongly built, no-nonsense defender, Bellini excelled at club level, playing with distinction for Vasco da Gama and Sao Paulo. He made his debut for Vasco in 1952, spending nine seasons with the club before joining O Tricolor Paulista, with whom he won three state titles. He then signed for Atletico Paranaense before retiring in 1969. In his later years he devoted his energies to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
On Friday FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter sent a letter of condolence to the Brazilian Football Association (CBF), expressing his sadness at the loss of a great champion.
“I would like to offer my deepest sympathy following the sad news of the death of another of the greats of world football, Hilderaldo Bellini, Brazil’s captain in 1958 and the country’s first player to lift the FIFA World Cup,” wrote Blatter.
“On behalf of FIFA and the global football family as a whole, I would like to offer our condolences to you, to the Brazilian footballing community and above all to Bellini’s family, friends and loved ones. Please tell them that the football world is with them today and wishes them every strength at this difficult time.”