The one thing Carlos Alberto Torres said he wanted to do as he galloped to meet Pele’s pass in the 1970 World Cup final was to score.
“Because side-backs would rarely move up those days,” he said. Nearly 9 lakh YouTube hits is just one immortality ode to the then Brazil captain’s effort.
43 years after kissing the Jules Rimet Trophy goodbye, Torres emerged in Kolkata on Sunday with its successor, the Fifa World Cup trophy. This was his second visit to the city but even though he scored, Torres said he didn’t remember much of the New York Cosmos-Mohun Bagan match in 1977 apart from the atmosphere being 'crazy.'
Excerpts from an interview:
Eleven years as teammates, what is the standout image of Pele you have?
Pele for me is the No 1. As a player, friend and human being. We got closer during our time at New York Cosmos and we are friends even today. Pele was the mirror for my career. You could say I tried to do everything he did and was 50% successful. For the 1970 World Cup squad, he was the best example to prepare ourselves, physically and tactically. Pele was confident that we would win the World Cup and we tried to follow him. And we were right in following him.
How emotional did Pele get at his farewell match?
There was a sense of emptiness in him and in us because we too were not used to playing without Pele. At the Giants Stadium, he played one half for Santos and another for Cosmos. I played only for Cosmos. He broke down during his speech and I remember putting my arms around him.
You have consistently played down Brazil’s chances over the years. Has that opinion changed after the Confederations Cup?
We have a good team, in Thiago Silva possibly the best national team captain but also one that is very young. Germany are big favourites and let’s not forget Spain the world champions. I wish they win it but I can’t say Brazil will be champions.
What is the biggest improvement you have seen under Luiz Felipe Scolari?
The defence. Brazil were never strong in defence. Now we have a good line. And Scolari has stuck to a fixed squad. The earlier coach (Mano Menezes) would change five-six players after every match. Also, Neymar’s changed; now he is playing more for the team. He has understood this himself. I don’t think it has much to do with his being at Barcelona.
The Confederations Cup saw a lot of support for the Brazil team but there were also unprecedented protests around it. How do you explain this contradiction?
Protests are normal in any democratic society and I am okay with it so long as there is no violence. I don’t think there will be too many protests during the World Cup. Brazilians understand the need to promote Brazil to the world.
How ready is Brazil for the World Cup in terms of infrastructure?
On a scale of 1-10, I would say eight. Leaving things till the last moment is a very Brazilian way. We will have a good World Cup.
If there was one team you would pay to watch, which would it be?
That’s a difficult one. Football for me is the reality of today and now it would be Barcelona. In the mid-70s it was Bayern Munich, earlier people said it was our 1970 Brazil team. But if you insist, the Santos I played for was the best team ever. What Brazil did in 1970 was over a few matches, what Santos did was over years. We were the best.