Kicking off The Samba Series in style, Rob Brown charts the history of Brazilians in the Premier League…
Brazil’s relationship with football is unique. In no other country is it such an integral part of national life: simultaneously everyone’s favourite pastime, dream job and topic of conversation. In Brazilian society, the game’s players are messianic figures. Many, such as Zico, Romário and Bebeto, have assumed high-profile political positions after retiring.
Defeat to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup Final, played on home soil in the Maracanã, was a genuine national disaster. Victory was apparently so assured that a spontaneous carnival took place in Rio de Janeiro prior to the match, an official song was composed to mark the occasion and FIFA president Jules Rimet prepared a congratulatory speech in Portuguese. The pain of that ignominious reverse served as the catalyst for what has since been an almost constant stream of success.
The men’s national team has won five World Cups, eight Copa Américas, four Confederations Cups and the hearts of millions of neutrals. According to FIFA’s Big Count, conducted in 2006, only Germany and the United States have more registered footballers than Brazil and only England has more registered clubs. Simply put, no other country can match the scale of Brazil’s success in the beautiful game, nor its devotion to it. Continue reading