SAO PAULO, (Reuters) – The young striker who stepped in for the injured Pele and helped Brazil win the 1962 World Cup believes there are parallels with the loss of Neymar but no obvious saviours in an often ordinary Brazil side. “It is not at all the same, although there are some similarities,” Amarildo, the man who showed Brazil the way to victory in Chile, told Reuters in an interview yesterday. “The big difference is that the 1962 team had 22 exceptional players. It didn’t matter who came off, there was a great player to take his place and we knew that whoever came on would do a great job.”
“Modesty apart, the difference is great. The only forward the selection has is Fred and he isn’t in the same class as the players of 1962. We had Coutinho, Pele’s team mate at Santos, we had Vava. And Garrincha was there too. He was extraordinary.”
Amarildo, who is 74 was a 22-year-old reserve in 1962 and not expecting to play when Pele tore a thigh muscle after 27 minutes of the second group stage game against Czechoslovakia.
There were no substitutions allowed in those days but such was their respect for Pele that the Czechoslovakia players refused to take advantage of his injury and the match ended 0-0 with the Brazil striker hobbling along.
“He played on but was clearly hurt so I told my team mates that when Pele had the ball they were not to tackle him,” Czech captain Josef Masopust said last year at the Confederations Cup.
“It would have been easy, but it would not have been right to tackle an injured man. I saw it as a humanitarian gesture.”
Amarildo got his chance in the next game against Spain and scored both of Brazil’s goals in a 2-1 victory.
He scored another in the final when Brazil played Czechoslovakia again and beat them 3-1. He was hailed as a hero with Botafogo team mate Garrincha, who got four in the last three matches.