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Pel?returned after vowing never to play in another
World Cup and Brazil won the Jules Rimet trophy outright with a near-perfect
team including Clodoaldo, Gerson, Rivelino, Tostao, Jairzinho, Pel?and
Brazil carry off their third victory
There were three big winners in the 1970 World Cup: the Brazilians naturally, and their king, Pel? victors for the third time after 1958 and 1962 but also football itself, with many games and individual feats entering football legend.
Those who had been dissatisfied with the standard of play during the 1966 World Cup had nothing to complain about four years later in Mexico, where "the beautiful game" was really seen in all its glory. Three of the game's all-time greatest matches were played to huge and rapturous crowds: England vs. Brazil, England vs. West Germany and a simply sensational semi-final between Italy and West Germany. And nobody will ever forget Pel?and his glorious attempt to lob the Czech goalkeeper Viktor from 50 metres out!
Then, just to top things off, the Brazilians, the tournament's most spectacular team, with their unforgettable front-line of Jairzinho, Tostao, Pel?and Rivelino, ran out winners. For this ninth World Cup, the number of participating nations was again at a new high, with 75 teams entering for the qualifying rounds. And many nations well-grounded in World Cup experience did not make it past the qualifiers, including Portugal, Hungary, France, Spain and even Argentina. Israel and Morocco, however, made their debuts.
The Moroccans, who became the first African Confederation representative (CAF founded 1957) to qualify for the finals (the first African finalist, Egypt in 1934, had qualified without playing a single match), were one of the star attractions of the first round along with Peru. The Peruvians, in fact, reached the quarter-finals where they held their own gamely against Brazil before finally going down 4-2. But THE match of the quarter-finals pitted the two 1966 finalists England and West Germany. Two-nil down with 20 minutes to go, the Germans miraculously fought back to win 3-2 in extra-time. But a fiercer and even more nerve-racking struggle awaited the Germans in the semi-final against Italy in the brand new Aztec stadium, built especially for the World Cup.
After 90 minutes the two teams were locked at 1-1. What followed in extra-time has entered football folklore, with both teams leading at different times in a heart-stopping battle. Franz Beckenbauer remained on the field even with a dislocated shoulder, his arm in a sling strapped to his body. His courage, however, was not to be rewarded, as it was finally the Italians who had their way (4-3), and reached the final. There, a tired Squadra Azzurra could do nothing to stop the rampant Brazilians, who coasted to a 4-1 win. Carlos Alberto, the "Carioca" captain, stepped up to receive the Jules Rimet trophy, which would remain forever in Brazilian hands. Pel? in tears, was carried triumphantly on his team-mates' shoulders. He had not only won his third World Cup winner's medal, but also played his last match in a World Cup.
Sources: FIFA Archives; CFO France 98; Ian Morrison: The World Cup - A Complete Record 1930-1990. Breedon Books, Derby (UK) 1990.; John Robinson: Soccer - The World Cup 1930-1998. Soccer Books Limited, Lincolnshire (UK) 1998