King arrives in great style

King arrives in great style

An emotional Pele breaks down after Brazil’s triumph.

There was widespread anticipation from the entire world as the teams arrived in Stockholm in 1958 because there was a certain 17-year-old in the Brazilian squad who was making quite a name for himself.

A boy who came from the poverty-stricken section of Sao Paulo was troubling opposition defences with his moves, muscular build and delectable footwork. This was none other than Edson Arantes do Nascimento, who came to be known as Pele.

The greatest footballer of all time, Pele made his World Cup debut in Sweden, where Brazil, with the likes of free-kick specialist Didi, Garrincha and Vava, were the overwhelming favourites.

Many players from defending champions West Germany suffered a cruel fate after the World Cup triumph, falling into hard times, leaving them with a severely depleted contingent. It was no different for heavyweights Hungary who were still recovering from a revolution and were minus Ferenc Puskas and Sandor Kocsis.

But there was a surprise package with Frenchman Just Fontaine hammering 13 goals in the tournament, a record that still stands today. The group stages were finally bearing a semblance of a reasonable format with four teams in four groups and goal difference coming into play in case of a draw.

A surprise result in the initial phase was the English, still recovering from the Munich crash that happened the previous year, holding the flair-filled Brazilians to 0-0 result. It did little to damper the Brazilians as they worked their way to the final.

The Swedes are usually known to be an affable lot but this wasn’t their best display of chivalry. Fans and the administration made the atmosphere hostile for visiting teams, a few even raising complaints. 

Their tactics, though, seemed to work as they were to challenge Brazil for the title in the capital. 

Brazil weren’t bothered though, and despite falling behind by an early goal, they rallied to force a victory, with Pele dazzling with two goals.