Brazil, Sweden play in historic friendly
STOCKHOLM - Reuters
Brazil’s Pele (2L) meets former Swedish players to remember the 1958 final. AFP photo
The shirt is a different shade of yellow but the face and the voice on the pitch at Stockholm’s Rasunda stadium are unmistakable: “I remember everything,” Pele told reporters as he returned to the scene of his first great triumph with Brazil.
On the same pitch, the then 17-year-old Pele inspired Brazil to a 5-2 victory over hosts Sweden in the 1958 World Cup final, and the two sides meet again tonight as Rasunda stages its final international match.
To mark the occasion, players from both the 1958 sides returned to the scene of the first of Brazil’s five World Cup victories and the tournament which Pele says put Brazilian football on the world map.
“The biggest memory of being here is that Brazil was unknown until we won the World Cup,” said Pele, clad in a yellow Sweden shirt with the number 58 on the back, rather than his traditional Brazilian number 10.
“It’s still alive, this feeling of helping Brazil. Brazil started here. Before 1958 nobody knew Brazil - even the name on the flag was wrong and (player Mario) Zagallo asked them to fix it. We went to Hindas where the team was based, and nobody knew who Brazil was.”
That soon changed when Pele hit a hat-trick in the semi-final victory over France and a brace in the final as the Brazilians won the hearts of football fans around the world.
“Brazil was playing so good in some games that everybody was cheering for Brazil,” said Pele.
Sweden right-winger Kurt Hamrin, now 77, said his memories of the game had faded over time but he still remembered his opposite number, Garrincha.
“I remember Garrincha hitting two crosses in that game and generally doing all the things he was great at - he was without a doubt the best right-winger in the world.”