Mário Zagallo obituary

Mário Zagallo obituary

07-Jan-2024 21:35:55 | The Guardian

Brazilian footballer with an unrivalled record of success in the World Cup as both player and manager

Mário Zagallo, who has died aged 92, was the most successful footballer in the history of the World Cup. Many players who were more talented and managers who were more tactically astute have won the tournament, but none can equal the Brazilian’s record of four triumphs: two as a player, in 1958 and 1962, one as manager, in 1970, and another as assistant manager, in 1994. He looked destined to win a fifth World Cup in 1998, again as Brazil’s manager, before Ronaldo, the star of his team, suffered a seizure on the morning of the final, shattering the team’s morale.

Zagallo was also the first of only three men (Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and France’s Didier Deschamps followed him) to win the tournament both as a player and as a manager; and he won with the two teams, of 1958 and 1970, that are widely regarded as the best ever to land the trophy. Yet in his home country he never received the full recognition that his achievements merited. His fiery temper and brusque, regimental air at a time when the country was run by a military dictatorship may have had something to do with that, as did his public persona in later years, when he became a cranky, almost comedic figure. Many Brazilians know him more for the riposte he famously growled at his critics – “you will have to put up with me” – as his sporting achievements.

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