In 1970 England manager Alf Ramsey was watching Brazil beat Czechoslovakia 4-1. After the game he confided his thoughts on the Brazilians his team were due to play next (1). "By Christ, these people can play, So much ability, so much cunning, such teamwork."
With Cliff Jones, Alan Mullery, Jimmy Greaves, Charles Roberts, Pat Jennings and Alf Ramsey we are looking at some of the experiences Tottenham and its players have had when they met the great Brazilian sides.
Cliff Jones played against them twice. He looked back at the 1958 World Cup game with them when Wales narrowly lost to the eventual winners (2). "When I look back, regret isn't the right word, It's more of a case of what might have been. For a start, John Charles was stretchered off against Hungary. Unfortunately, he couldn't play for us against Brazil. To this day, I have a theory that had John played we would have been in with a huge chance.” Cliff added "He was a special player for us and if he had played, who knows...?
But we were superb that day, back to front. We created lots of chances, Mel Hopkins kept Garrincha quiet. He was Brazil's main man, but Mel didn't let him have a kick. We were a great team with some top, top players.’ Cliff continued "Looking back, it was a privilege to be on the pitch at the emergence of Pele, possibly the greatest player of all time. We knew then he was something special and would go all the way. Brazil had so many wonderful players, yet we pushed them all the way. I believe even now that was our greatest moment.”
Jimmy recalled that was the worse thing they could of done, as it made them angry. They went on to beat England 5-1 that day. Jimmy also said the following day some of the England’s lads went down to the beach and got involved in a game of beach-football with a few of the locals. He remembered they processed amazing skills and never let the ball touch the sand. England were thrashed for the second time in two days.
Incidentally the other Spur to score in an England V Brazil fixture is Gary Lineker in 1990.
Whilst Tottenham may not have played in Brazil when they toured Uruguay and Argentina in 1909. Their ship stopped in the country on the way home. The Club Chairman Charles Roberts wrote “ On our way home we were anxious that the boys should see Brazil, a chance that they may never again have, we did Santos running up to San Paolo by rail, Rio De Janeiro where we did the granite hills of Corcovado and Tijuca perhaps the most beautiful spots under the sun. Also Madeira where we mounted the hills and tobogganed down the cobbles taking wine at the noted half way house.”
Alan recalls the 1970 meeting “Ramsey was concerned about Brazil’s shooting from free kicks. He told his players not to foul them. Alan Mullery remembered "It worried him a lot, we saw that they sent Jairzinho to stand in the wall while Pele shaped up to have a crack. Rivelino then sprang in from a wide angle to send the ball hard at Jairzinho, who leaped out of the way. They scored with that against the Czechs and we weren't sure what to do. Moore had the answer. He simply positioned himself behind Jairzinho and killed the ball as though it was cotton wool and strode upfield. Some player!"
Mullery had an excellent game but admits to one mistake “Pele out-jumped me to get in a header, 'all over, a goal I thought,' then Banksie made that phenomenal save.” Banks got across the line dived low to his right and not only saved the header but managed to scoop it up and over the bar to safety. Pele was so sure he had scored he was shouting "GOAL!" as he headed the ball, but Banks had other ideas.”
Alan and Pele talked after the game and Pele told him “that England were the only team Brazil feared and they expected to meet them again in the final“ Alan recalls properly one of the best performances of his career “ We were unlucky to lose...and that gives you an idea of how close we pushed them in that game." “The game was played at 100 degrees in the shade, so pace wasn’t everything but the skill and commitment.” Pele also told Mullery that England were the cleanest team he had ever played in an international. Having been kicked out of the previous two tournaments by foul play he should know what he was talking about.
Top image - Alan Mullery with Pele's 1970 shirt.
Notes - 1 - Flying Down to Rio, Flight 10.
2 - Flights 5 & 6,
3- Connections - Brazil, parts 1 & 2,
4- Talking Tottenham 19.
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