NEWS

The legend that time will not forget

The legend of Brazil has partly been built on its success in World Cup competition. It is the only team which has taken part in every tournament since the first championship in 1930 and has won more titles (five) than any other country. Brazil’s first victory came in 1958 when it beat hosts Sweden in the final during which a 17-year-old Pele scored and showed touches of genius that would make him the most recognized face in the world over the next two decades at least. «Where skill alone counted, Brazil stood alone,» wrote The Times newspaper in London at the end of the tournament. «The way each daffodil shirt of theirs pulled the ball down out of the sky, tamed it with a touch of the foot, caressed it and stroked it away into an open space was a joy.» A legend was born. But much of the Brazilian aura stems from their World Cup win in Mexico in 1970. The winning side was led by Pele and is widely acknowledged as the best team to ever lift the golden trophy. Thanks to the free-flowing and attacking football it played during that tournament, the world has expected every Brazilian side since then to play with the youthful abandon of boys from the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro kicking the ball about on Copacabana beach. Reality rarely reflects that myth. However, it has not stopped supporters from all over the world congregating in Germany in the hope of realizing the dream. The residents of Dortmund, a quarter of whom are registered members of sports clubs, were only too happy to indulge these hunters of a sporting holy grail. From police officers to waitresses, there were smiles on the faces of those welcoming the hordes of yellow and green clad supporters. The equally exuberant Ghanaians exchanged hugs with Brazilians and shared attempts at firing up the celebratory atmosphere with a dose of their country’s music. Ghana’s most famous son, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, need not have looked any further than Dortmund on Tuesday for inspiration on how to bring more unity to the world. One African attempted to explain to four baffled Brazilians wearing yellow and green afro wigs why his side would cause the greatest upset in world football and beat the reigning champions. As the young man pleaded his case passionately, the Brazilians looked on with the sort of indulgence and arrogance that can only come from supporting the most successful national side in the world.