In 1958, Pele had dazzled in frigid Sweden as Brazil brought the World Cup back to South America. It was no different four years later in Chile, but the protagonist was the slightly built Garrincha, the ‘Little Bird’.
Two years prior to the World Cup, a devastating earthquake had left Chile in tatters but Carlos Dittborn, President of the Chilean Football Federation, had made a rather persuasive plea to FIFA and acquired hosting rights.
Four cities were picked and the two that stood out were the picturesque Estadio Nacional in Santiago and coastal Estadio Sausalito in Vina del Mar, where the Brazilians camped.
There was a lot of talk prior to the tournament that Brazil were over-reliant on Pele, and despite being outright favourites, their supporters would have been a tad worried as the then 21-year-old suffered a thigh injury in their second outing against Czechoslovakia and took no further part in the event.
Spain also boasted a sturdy side with the likes of former Hungarian superstar Ferenc Puskas and forward Luis Suarez. It could have been better had the legendary Alfredo di Stefano not injured himself in the run-up and also built a better relationship with manager Helenio Herrera.
Nonetheless, it was a disaster for the Spanish and they went tumbling out in the group stages. The Group II clash between Chile and Italy stood-out, but for all the wrong reasons and later came to be termed as one of the most ghastly games in the history of the sport. A broken nose, a barrage of violent incidents and two expulsions were all on view in the ‘Battle of Santiago.’
Shift focus to Brazil and they kept motoring along like a well-oiled machine, trumping Sir Bobby Charlton’s England in the quarterfinals and then hosts Chile in last-four.
Brazil played Czechoslavkia in the final and much like in Stockholm in the previous edition, they went behind courtesy of Josef Masopust but the trio of Amarildo, Zito and Vava proved their class and ensured they retained the Jules Rimet Cup with a 3-1 win.