Two months, 14 guests, 15 world titles and 12 FIFA Ballon d'Ors. The team of world football legends set to participate in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Final Draw faced the press in two collective interviews in Costa do Sauipe, in the state of Bahia, where they were given the opportunity to reveal their expectations for the upcoming World Cup.
The first table was made up of Brazil’s ambassadors for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. World champions Zagallo, Amarildo, Carlos Alberto Torres, Bebeto and Ronaldo joined Marta, crowned world’s best player by FIFA five times. They spoke of their honour of representing Brazil, this time off the pitch.
Then it was the turn of eight Final Draw assistants who, this Friday, will help to seal the fates of those who qualified for the World Cup. Journalists had the chance to talk with Alcides Ghiggia, Geoff Hurst, Mario Kempes, Lothar Matthaus, Zinedine Zidane, Fernando Hierro, Fabio Cannavaro and Cafu. Read on for some of the highlights.
Carlos Alberto Torres“It’s the first occasion in such a long time that all the world champions will have been present at a World Cup, which makes us believe that this will be a different World Cup on a technical level, as all the world’s current top players will be present, with the exception of Sweden’s Ibrahimovic. After so long we will have the chance to see elite world class football played right here in Brazil.”
Bebeto“Brazil is having its chance to host the World Cup and we fought a lot for this. It was something that we, Brazilians, all strived for. As a player, I didn’t have the chance to play a World Cup in my country, but I am now, as a member of the Local Organising Committee. The important thing is to show the world that we can stage big events. The legacy that will be left for our people is of the utmost importance, and not just in terms of material things, but immaterial things as well.”
Ronaldo“Over the last few months we have promoted the World Cup in Europe, and it has been truly rewarding work. Everyone is really excited to see Brazil’s passion for football up-close. It makes me happy and proud to be Brazilian and to be able to do my part for this World Cup, even as part of the organising team. Out there, people are still really enthusiastic, even with news of the problems that we have encountered, and this is reflected in the ticket sales.”
Marta“I believe that the World Cup in Brazil will go a long way to help develop women’s football, which has grown considerably, albeit at a slow pace. We all know that Brazilians are football mad, both men and women. Just as everyone is cheering for us, I really hope that Neymar can shine out there, like he did at the Confederations Cup. We all want everything to go well, as much for him as for the national team.”
Zagallo“At the 1950 final I was doing my military service, with an olive-green uniform, helmet, truncheon, boots and everything that came with it. And what began as 200,000 people cheering with white handkerchiefs turned into a huge cloth to wipe away Brazil’s tears. Brazil has won the World Cup five times but never here. We lost in ’50; we’ll have this chance in 2014. I hope Brazil will be repaid at this World Cup, which would make us six-time champions."
Amarildo"Everyone says I should have replaced Pele in 1962. Don’t you believe it! Once summoned I had to do my duty and do my best, so that Brazilians could put their faith in me. My career was at stake, as was the future of the Brazilian side at the World Cup, but I did what I had to do. I didn’t replace Pele because Pele is irreplaceable. My job was done and, fortunately, we qualified and later won. And what’s important next year is this: that Brazil are world champions. Everything else is secondary.”
Alcides Ghiggia“Brazil is like a second home for me because everyone knows and respects me, despite everything that happened. I am proud to be Uruguayan and truly respect Brazil; I am always welcomed warmly here. That’s what football really is: one day you win, one day you lose, and that’s what happened in 1950. But Brazil recovered and went on to win other World Cups. May my colleagues here at the table forgive me, but I’d really like to see another Brazil-Uruguay final.”
Geoff Hurst"I have the fondest of memories of playing in Brazil 1969 in front of an enormous crowd. I don’t remember how many people there were, but it seemed like 100 million. Brazil isn’t just a great country of football, but also a place that those of us from other parts of the world don’t have the chance to visit all that often.”
Mario Kempes"Expectations are very high for the World Cup in Brazil. A lot of people did not believe that we South Americans could organise a World Cup as successfully as they do in Europe, so it is an important step towards having more World Cups outside Europe in the future."
Lothar Matthaus"Of course Germany want to win the World Cup, but then so do a lot of other teams. It is 24 years since we last won the competition, so I am really hoping that this is Germany’s year. I think the team has what it takes to be champions, but there are a lot of other factors that can affect the outcome of a World Cup. Something unexpected always happens, but if Germany continue to play the way they have been recently then they will be one of the favourites."
Zinedine Zidane"I am delighted to be in Brazil. For me it is the home of football and so I accepted the invitation to be here straight away. Even though football was invented in England, Brazil play the kind of football I love. It is never easy when you are facing those famous yellow shirts, but the France teams I played for always did well against Brazil. I don’t think the Brazilian people hold it against me though. I have always felt very welcome here. Nobody seems to bear any grudges for what happened in the past."
Fabio Cannavaro"The name Brazil just makes me think of football, because Brazil have won more World Cps than anyone else and play the game with such style. But they have great defenders too, like Spain. Thiago Silva, for example, is one of the best centre-backs in the world. Brazil have intelligent, shrewd defenders who cope well under pressure, and that is why they have been so successful in their careers."
Fernando Hierro"Spain have always had great players, but this crop is the best in our history. They have been so successful. We came close in the past but never quite managed to make it over the line. But the current side is full of top class players with winning attitudes, and they have every chance of lifting the World Cup again. It makes me very proud that this generation has earned the respect and admiration of the whole world."
Cafu"I am thrilled and honoured to be representing 190 million Brazilians at the draw, that they chose me out of so many great players. I think Brazil will be tough opposition for any team at the World Cup. Everybody who visits the country will be amazed how beautiful it is, and how warm the people are."