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Brazil legend Mario Zagallo, ‘the accidental footballer’, dies aged 92

Introduction to the Article
Legendary Brazilian footballer and coach, Mario Zagallo, has passed away at the age of 92. Having achieved an incredible legacy in the sport, he was known for his role as a player in the 1958 and 1962 World Cup teams, and as a coach for the 1970 squad, which is often considered one of the greatest national teams in the game’s history.

Mario Zagallo’s Early Years

Born in Maceio, Brazil in 1931, Mario Jorge Lobo Zagallo grew up with a passion for soccer. Initially aspiring to be an airline pilot, Zagallo was unable to fulfill this dream due to poor eyesight. As a result, he turned his attention towards playing football at the local level and joined the team America, one of the biggest clubs in Rio de Janeiro.

The Accidental Footballer

When Zagallo’s father initially forbade him from becoming a professional football player, he never anticipated that football would become such a significant part of his life. After a series of shifts in position and team, he found his place, first as a left midfielder and later as a left winger. This change proved instrumental, allowing him to secure a position in Brazil’s 1958 World Cup team, where he played alongside iconic players such as Garrincha and a young Pele.

Zagallo’s Coaching Career

Throughout his coaching career, Zagallo held various positions with several Brazilian clubs and national teams, further solidifying his influence on his country’s soccer legacy. Notably, he was appointed as the last-minute coach for the 1970 World Cup squad in Mexico, leading the star-studded team to an extraordinary victory against Italy in the final.

Legacy and Personal Life

Beyond his incredible achievements in football, Zagallo was known for his superstitions and fierce national pride. With a coined nickname, “Old Wolf,” he left an indelible mark on the football world. Rounding off his legacy, Zagallo’s marriage to Alcina de Castro, four children, and televised appearances will be part of his lasting legacy.