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Ah, 1982. A special year for football fans. The year of Socrates, Zico, Falcao and Cerezo. And Paolo Rossi. A year hindsight has informed us was the year that football died.

Well, to be honest, I missed most of the 1982 World Cup. Or at least I can’t remember most of it. It was a glorious summer, if memory serves. One of the few memories I have is only seeing the last few minutes of Brazil-Argentina or Brazil-Italy because I was out playing golf.

Ah, and of course of those brief moments of excitement when David Narey put Scotland ahead against Brazil. Even he could hardly believe it.

Still, the 1982 World Cup served me well. Since I moved to Brazil I’ve met some of the players (that’s a young me and Zico below) and written about the tournament quite a bit. It still sticks in people’s minds because of the demise of that great Brazil side.

ZIco and meThe best story from the 1982 World Cup is doubtlessly apocryphal but it still deserves telling. Scotland go one-nil up against Brazil and as the Scottish players run to congratulate David Narey on his goal one of them screams at him, “What did you go and do that for? You’ll only make them angry!” As so it came to pass. The goal stung Brazil into action and they scored four without reply against a pretty decent Scotland side. It was football as it was meant to be played.

Second best story from that World Cup has more of a whiiff of truth about it. Scots and Brazilians met on the beach somewhere in Spain and a football match soon started. Brazil were favourites, of course. But the Scots won. 1-0. “We scored a goal and then just kept booting the ball in the sea,” said one Jock.

Ah, whae’s like us?

 

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Socrates, in 1986

A few years ago, Time magazine had me call Socrates to ask him if he would pen a short piece on Kaka.

The magazine’s editors – perhaps the same ones who suggested last month that Lionel Messi was better than Pele – had chosen Kaka as one of the 100 most influential people on the planet and they wanted Socrates to write an eulogy.

Socrates had one question for me. Is this about Kaka the footballer or Kaka the man, he asked. Kaka, the man, I replied.

To my delight, Socrates dismissed the idea out of hand. He had great respect for Kaka with a ball at his feet but not with a bible in his hand.

Time got Casey Keller to write the piece instead.

I thought of this last night when I saw that Neymar had described Ricardo Teixeira as “an excellent president” of the CBF. The young Santos star made the comments on the same day that Edmundo declared that he “loved” Ricardo Teixeira and a few days after Ronaldo and Bebeto both lauded Teixeira’s work.

(See the Neymar comments in Portuguese here, and details of Ronaldo and Bebeto’s nonsense here in my Reuters piece from last week.)

Socrates was not just a brilliant footballer. He was an intelligent and highly  principled man who fought hard so that players like Neymar could have more of a voice, both inside and outside the game.

He must be rolling in his grave.

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