Cafu: The memory of 2002 will stay with me forever

In exactly a year’s time, the eyes of the world will be on Lusail Stadium in Qatar. The striking 80,000-capacity venue will be gearing up to host the FIFA World Cup Final™ – the biggest showdown in sport that will be watched by billions of fans across the globe.

Only one man in the history of football has been a part of three consecutive FIFA World Cup finals: Brazilian icon Cafu. The legendary full-back told Qatar2022.qa that whenever anybody mentions the World Cup, his mind wanders back to 2002 – the year he lifted the trophy at the International Stadium in Yokohama.

"Whenever people talk about the World Cup – about lifting the trophy – I see images from 2002. That memory will stay with me for the rest of my life,” said Cafu, who won 142 caps for his country. “Every World Cup final has its special moments but obviously 2002 stands out for me as I was lucky enough to lift the trophy as the captain of Brazil."

Cafu came on as a substitute in the 1994 final against Italy – which Brazil won on penalties – and started the 1998 final against France, which Brazil lost 3-0. A Seleção bounced back in style four years later with a 2-0 victory over Germany in the final thanks to a brace of goals from Ronaldo.

“It is special and historic being the only player to appear in three consecutive World Cup finals,” said Cafu. “I feel honoured for having had the opportunity to do something unprecedented and feel very proud about it.”

When it comes to the finals, Cafu said he approached them like any other game. “You have done everything you need to do to get there so you don’t need to make any changes. You don’t need to do anything different in a final,” said Cafu.

He added: “Honestly, I wasn’t nervous because it was the opportunity I had been waiting for. I had worked hard – mentally – so I was ready to take this chance. Of course, against Italy, when we won on penalties, the anxiety was very high. However, the expectation was also very high and I wasn’t nervous.”

Cafu had one simple message for whoever is lucky enough to lift the World Cup in Qatar on 18 December 2022.

“May he remember everything that made him a champion. May he remember everything he had to go through with his teammates to get there.”