World Cup flashback: The arrival of Pele’s Brazil

No, we don’t either.

But here we document the moment Brazil went from also-rans to running with the big dogs — and the day they unearthed one of the best the world has ever seen.

What was the ‘moment’: Brazil’s first World Cup victory, and the emergence of Pele.

Which World Cup was it? Sweden, 1958

Country played for: Brazil

You have to be of a certain advanced vintage to remember back to 1958, when Sweden hosted and a 17-year-old called Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele for short) helped to lay the foundations of a footballing dynasty.

The timing was not coincidental, for this was the first World Cup to be televised globally, allowing a star to be born.

It also helped that Pele’s six goals came at the business end of the tournament — in the first two games he was absent through injury, as Brazil beat Austria and drew with England at the start of a group stage being used for the first time.


He did appear in the final group game, an efficient defeat of the Soviet Union; then finally, in the 66th minute of the quarterfinal with Wales, Pele scored his first World Cup goal — and Brazil were in the semi-finals for the first time.

That’s when Pele let rip, with a second-half hat-trick to brush France aside. Now Brazil really were the favourites, and watching audiences were agog when Pele took hold of the final — against the hosts, Sweden.

Brazil actually went a goal down, but were 2-1 up when Pele produced a brilliant piece of skill — flicking the ball over his marker then volleying home.

By the time he added another, with a thumping header, Brazil were flying and about to receive the Jules Rimet Trophy for the first time.

Six decades later, the impact of those performances is still being felt, setting the bar for how every Brazilian team is expected to play, and what it is expected to achieve.

But no one has ever come close to emulating the feats of Edson Arantes do Nascimento.


DAY ONE: Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal

DAY TWO: Roy Keane’s epic ‘f*****g” rant

DAY THREE: Luis Suarez’s extraordinary brain explosion

DAY FOUR: The greatest goal celebration in World Cup history

DAY FIVE: The battle of Nuremberg

DAY SIX: The humiliation of Brazil

DAY SEVEN: Escobar’s deadly own goal

DAY EIGHT: The greatest Brazil team ever assembled

DAY NINE: South Korea’s fairytale run at ‘corrupt’ Cup

DAY 10: Tragic tale of Brazil’s most hated man

DAY 11: Dennis Bergkamp’s impossibly perfect touch

DAY 12: Zaire’s free kick madness

DAY 13: France’s mutinous meltdown

DAY 14: The birth of the Cruyff turn

DAY 15: Rossi magic stuns Brazil’s best

DAY 16: Beckenbauer’s pain-defying act of bravery

DAY 17: The drug-fuelled fall of Diego Maradona

DAY 18: The ageless Roger Milla’s 1990 goalfest

DAY 19: England’s greatest humiliation

DAY 20: Rivaldo’s shameless dive

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