Jairzinho has just made history. In claiming the fourth goal of an unforgettable 1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico™ Final against Italy, he has maintained his record of scoring in every one of Brazil’s matches en route to the Trophy. Previously, only one player – Alcides Ghiggia - had achieved this feat, and Uruguay’s 1950 hero had done so over four matches compared to the six in which O Furacão (The Hurricane) found the net in Mexico.
A potent mixture of power, pace and panache made Jairzinho an indispensable element of Brazil’s beloved 1970 side. “When I took off with the ball,” said the man himself, “it was hard to stop me.” As Mario Zagallo told FIFA.com: “Jairzinho had the physique to be a right-winger, a midfielder, a centre-forward… all at once.”
At times in 1970, and having been a left winger in the 1966 edition, the Botafogo star would indeed alternate between all three of those roles. He was a No7 who often strayed from his patch on the right flank, surging inside to central, goalscoring positions and often wandering to the opposite flank altogether.
“What happened is that [Mario] Zagallo’s 1970 team achieved something really special,” Jairzinho explained in an interview with FIFA.com. “Together in that side, we had five players who carried out practically the same role for their clubs. We were all No10s.
“None of us were out-and-out strikers. Your position was more or less determined by your shirt number. I wore No7, which was right-wing. Rivellino, with No11, was on the left. And as it turned out, we all attacked.”
There was, though, order and purpose to the interchanging of positions that opponents found so difficult to handle. A perfect example came with the legendary final goal of this celebrated tournament – the only one to arrive after the strike Jairzinho is pictured celebrating in the image above.
The late, great Carlos Alberto was its scorer, and he recalled that it was not by accident that Brazil’s No7’s contribution to the intricate build-up took place on the left. As he explained: “Zagallo said to Jairzinho, 'Always, if it's possible, make a movement to the left side to bring [Italy left-back Giacinto] Facchetti with you to make space for Carlos Alberto to go forward.”
The plan worked to perfection. Jairzinho, having lured Facchetti out of position, worked the ball in from the left to Pele, who in turn fed Brazil’s flying right-back. The result was one of the greatest goals of all time.
Later in life, long after hanging up his boots, Jairzinho would further aid Brazilian football by spotting a 14-year-old at Sao Cristovao by the name of Ronaldo. But while O Fenômeno would himself go on to break World Cup records and lift that most coveted of trophies, not even he could match the 1970 exploits of the man who unearthed his talents.
Did you know?
Mexico 1970 was the first World Cup broadcast across the world in colour, all thanks to the Telstar satellite – after which adidas’ official tournament ball was named. A model of that satellite now features among the 1970 exhibits at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich.