Six months before they actually did it, two Brazilians had assured this correspondent that they would host a memorable World Cup. One of them was a journalist with O’ Globo travelling on the World Cup’s trophy tour. The other was Carlos Alberto Torres, the ‘capita’ of the Brazil team that got the Jules Rimet Trophy for keeps in 1970.
When the media was being flooded with reports of how under-prepared Brazil were to host the World Cup, Torres assured HT that they were nearly 80% ready. Brazil was also being rocked by ‘soccer riots’ but Torres said by the time the World Cup kicked-off, the country would be ready to party.
The next day, Torres shared the stage with Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly presenting the Silvio Gazzaniga-designed statuette that only World Cup winners and heads of states are allowed to hold. Forty-three years after he was the equivalent of a train coming at full blast to meet a lay-up from Pele and score that goal in a World Cup final, Torres seemed remarkably free of airs.
During those two December days, it beggared belief that this avuncular man had led Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Tostao --- players who inspired parents to name new-borns by clubbing their names ---- was Johan Cruyff’s chosen right-back in his dream team and perhaps inspired the cult of marauding Brazilian wing-backs of which Roberto Carlos was and Dani Alves still is a member.
So you understood why FC Goa’s Reinaldo Oliveira and Julio Cesar spoke of his friendly nature just as you figured out why Zico called Torres his mentor.
“Carlos Alberto Torres was a dear friend, colleague and above all, a mentor. We have had many good memories together which will always be special to me. We have been friends and colleagues on the pitch and off it. Rest in peace my friend and captain. My thoughts and condolences are with Alexandre Torres and his family at this difficult time,” said the FC Goa coach. Alexandre is Torres’ son and has also played for Brazil.
Speaking to Fox Sports Radio on Tuesday, Zico also said Torres was a ‘funny guy’ and superstitious to the point of not changing his underwear when the team was winning. Zico and Torres were teammates at Flamengo in 1977 and when he returned as coach in 1983, Zico was still playing for them.
Torres returned as Flamengo coach once more and Reinaldo was then a player. “He was a born leader, a true captain. I learned a lot of how about how to win from him. His way of talking to the players, his stories, will stay in my memory forever. He was a friendly person and very caring. He truly was a leader,” said Reinaldo. His FC Goa teammate Cesar too said Torres was Brazil’s ‘eternal’ captain. One who will be missed by the football community around the world, said FC Goa marquee Lucio.
Chennaiyin FC’s Raphael Augusto said: “II think every Brazilian generation will hear stories of that 1970 team…. Being the captain of that team, he will forever be remembered as a legend.”