Tribute to Brazilian sporting icon Carlos Alberto

When one thinks of great Brazilian footballers, attacking players such as Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Zico come to mind. Carlos Alberto, however, gives all of them a run for their money in terms of his influence on Brazilian football.

Carlos Alberto, capped 53 times by Brazil, sadly died of a heart attack on the 25th October. He will no doubt go down in history as one of the world’s best ever right backs.

Indeed he is in the Brazilian hall of fame. Alberto is no doubt best remembered for captaining the Brazilian side which won the 1970 World Cup, seen by many as the greatest international side in history.

He, of course, scored one of the greatest goals in the history of the competition in the 1970 final, rounding off beautiful build-up play with a right-footed thunderbolt during Brazil’s 4-1 victory over Italy.

That side was full of attacking flair but in need of a strong leader, as the team was made up of a number of big characters such as Pele, Gerson and Rivelino. Carlos Alberto was that person and crucially he commanded the respect of his teammates. Brazilian sports journalist Emerson Vicente described him as an ‘an icon of world football and a well-respected voice’.

In terms of his playing style he was very much a modern day full-back, well ahead of his time. He was a defender who loved to get forward. At times he played as if he was a winger, but crucially unlike some of his predecessors, he had the fitness to back it up.

But while he was a stylish footballer, winning was always the priority for Alberto. He once said ‘we have a naturally beautiful way of playing, but don’t think we don’t take it deadly seriously. Like in US sport, winning is everything here’. This pragmatism sums up what a worthy leader he was in terms of turning a group of stylish footballers into winners. Having said that, he wasn’t exactly a bad player himself.

Cafu, Dani Aleves, Jorginho, Maicon; the list of world class Brazilian right-backs through the decades is extensive…, but Carlos Alberto was in a league of his own – Glen Johnson could definitely learn a thing or two from him!
Tyler Gerrard

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Soldon 2 via License here.

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