“If I had to choose one moment to encapsulate my career,” Carlos Alberto once told FIFA.com, “that would be it."
The wonderful move that carved it out had involved all but one of A Seleção's outfield players, with individual skill and intuitive team-work capped when he charged from right-back to crash home Pele’s beautifully measured pass. No wonder this World Cup legend looked back on it all with such evident pride.
In another interview with the BBC, he said: “We only realised how beautiful the goal was after the game. The emotion, of course, when I scored that goal was incredible, but after the game, and still today, I realise how beautiful and how important that goal was because everybody is still talking about it.
“Nobody talks about Pele's goal, the first goal, the second goal. It is always about the fourth goal. I think it was the best goal ever scored in a World Cup. [My shot] was a little detail, but the kind of play from the defensive line was great. Anybody can score a goal, but in that move nine different players touched the ball before the goal. I was lucky though, because I scored it."
Beyond merely encapsulating Carlos Alberto’s career, there are those who believe that the goal encapsulated the very best of the beautiful game. British newspaper The Guardian, in naming it as the greatest team goal ever scored, paid this glowing tribute.
"That this is football's apogee is not seriously in dispute by anyone with an anima. Yet it might legitimately be argued that this also represents the apex of all sport and, if you're feeling particularly grandiloquent, all art... Part of the joy of the goal is that it did not come out of the blue; instead it was done almost to order, reaffirming and then extending the parameters of an inconvertible greatness that had been established over the previous 19 days.”
"The apex of all art" might seem a stretch. But The Guardian was by no means alone in discussing Carlos Alberto’s goalin such terms. Eric Cantona, for example, was responsible for another famous and typically flamboyant eulogy. “I will never find any difference,” he said, “between Pele's pass to Carlos Alberto in the final of the 1970 World Cup and the poetry of the young Rimbaud.”
For Cantona and many others, the Brazilians in the Azteca that day had produced a football work of art. And no-one enjoyed it more than the man who added the masterpiece's finishing touch.
Did you know?
Included in the FIFA Football Museum’s 1970 exhibit are the medals designated for Brazil's two allotted substitutes. As neither of these subs were introduced during the match, the medals were never handed out.