1950 FIFA World Cup Brazil™

24 June - 16 July

FIFA World Cup Archive

Goals galore from Brazil's lesser-known legend

© Getty Images
  • Ademir pictured scoring one of four goals against Sweden in 1950
  • The Brazil star finished as that World Cup's top scorer
  • Jair: “He was one of the greatest players Brazil has ever seen”

Can you name the man who scored more goals than any other Brazilian in a single FIFA World Cup™? It is not, as you might expect, Ronaldo, Jairzinho, Romario, or even the great Pele. But if the name Ademir seems less familiar than those more celebrated Seleção legends, it is for good reason.

Judged purely on his exploits and attributes, this outstanding centre-forward should be bracketed alongside O Rei, O Fenomeno and these other icons. He was fast, powerful, extraordinarily skilful and, as the 1950 World Cup underlined, deadly in front of goal. The Vasco da Gama star comfortably ended that tournament as its top scorer, with his tally of eight – still a Brazilian record – leaving him three clear of his nearest challenger for the Golden Boot.

The goal captured in the above image was one of four he managed in a single match, and this against a Sweden side that ended up finishing third. A partisan Maracana crowd of 138,886 roared their appreciation as their hero, with clever tricks and deft changes of direction, left his opponents floundering. It was even suggested that Ademir was responsible for the shift away from the then-prevalent three-man defence to a four-man rearguard that offered, if nothing else, greater protection in numbers.

As Jair, Ademir's team-mate in that Brazil side, said: “He would appear in midfield and out wide, and his incredible speed made him impossible to mark. And he could score in so many different ways. He was one of the greatest players Brazil has ever seen.”

“Ademir, in his era, was the greatest player in the world,” echoed Evaristo de Macedo, a rival at club level with Flamengo who went on to star for Barcelona and Real Madrid. “When he shot on goal, he didn’t fail.”

But there was, of course, one match in which Ademir did fall short, and it is that single, infamous game that has served to diminish his legend. Brazil’s goal king, who had scored a hat-trick in the team’s previous final appearance – a 7-0 thrashing of Paraguay in the 1949 Copa America – found himself thwarted and frustrated in the 1950 decider as Uruguay snatched the Trophy from their stunned hosts. And while that notorious match, the Maracanazo, would go down in World Cup history, Ademir – the tournament’s brilliant Golden Boot winner – found his colossal contribution reduced to a footnote.

As unjust as that may have been, it was a reminder of just how important one game at the World Cup can be. As Flavio Costa, Brazil’s then coach, said: “If we had won that match, Ademir would be recognised as one of the greatest players in history.”

Did you know?
Ademir’s boots from the 1950 FIFA World Cup number among the unique items proudly displayed at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich.

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