PARIS, May 6 – Two years after staging the Olympics, Mexico's high altitude and stifling heat was selected to host the 1970 World Cup finals.Fears that the conditions would hinder attractive play were totally unfounded as the tournament produced a feast of attacking football.
Brazil, with Pele back at his best, were magnificent. They beat holders England 1-0 in the group stages, despite Gordon Banks’ now legendary save from Pele, and with Jairzinho on fire up front roared into the knockout stages.
West Germany, with Franz Beckenbauer imperious and impish striker Gerd Muller in top form, gained revenge for their defeat in the 1966 final by recovering from 2-0 down to England to win 3-2 after extra time in the last eight.
Their semi-final match with Italy was just as dramatic, the Italians eventually coming through 4-3 in extra-time after another seesaw encounter.
Brazil marched past Peru in the quarter-finals and then saw off Uruguay 3-1 in the semis.
Italy never stood a chance in the final as the South Americans gave what is probably their most celebrated exhibition of "the beautiful game". Pele, Gerson, Jairzinho and, gloriously, Carlos Alberto, scored in a 4-1 rout of the Italians, and Brazil were allowed to keep the Jules Rimet trophy having won it three times.
1970 WORLD CUP LEGENDS
Brazil: b. 1940
Probably the greatest footballer the world has seen. Agile, yet strong enough to resist the strongest challenge, a superb ball artist and a powerful leaper to a high cross. Possessed an insight that allowed him to lay off pinpoint passes to seemingly unseen team-mates, and a goal-getting genius that converted the slightest chance into goals.
More than 1,200 goals in his professional career, 95 for Brazil in 110 matches.
He almost missed the 1958 World Cup because of a bad knee injury. He came into the team for the third match against the Soviet Union and almost immediately hit the post. One goal against Wales, three against France, two against Sweden in the final brought the first of two World Cup winner’s medals. An injury in 1962 cost him a third.
Portugal kicked him out of the 1966 World Cup in England but he was back at his best in Mexico in 1970.
Made his international debut as a 16-year-old against Argentina.
Pele went on to become Sports Minister for Brazil.
Germany: b. 1945
Nicknamed "Der Bomber", this pocket-sized dynamo was one of the most lethal finishers in football history.
A real six-yard box goal-poacher, his low centre of gravity enabled him to turn defenders inside out and pounce on the slightest error. Scored with either foot, and despite his lack of inches, often with his head.
Top scored in the 1970 finals with 10 goals, including hat-tricks against Bulgaria and Peru. He also volleyed in the Germans’ clincher in a sensational 3-2 win over holders England in the quarter-finals.
Muller scored four more times to help West Germany to their 1974 World Cup triumph, taking his total World Cup tally to 14 — a record.
Amazingly, Muller once kept goal for Bayern Munich when Sepp Maier was injured, but it was up front that he caused devastation, helping them to three successive European Cup triumphs.
Scored 69 goals for West Germany in just 62 games, and in 1970 was the first German to be voted European Footballer of the Year.
England: b. 1937
Rated the world’s finest goalkeeper in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Banks is best remembered for making arguably the greatest save ever when he defied the great Pele in the 1970 finals in Mexico.
Jairzinho crossed the ball in from the left and Pele, from point-blank range, powered a bouncing header down and, seemingly into the corner of the net. Yet even though the ball had already passed him, Banks flung himself low to his right to somehow claw it up over the crossbar.
Pele held his head in disbelief, and the Banks legend was born.
Four years earlier Banks had conceded only one goal — a Eusebio penalty for Portugal — as England marched into the World Cup final.
As "safe as the Banks of England", the saying went, Banks had height, courage, agility and above all, outstanding positional sense.
He won 73 international caps and helped Stoke win the first major trophy in their history — the 1972 League Cup. The same year his career was sadly curtailed when he was blinded in one eye following a car crash.
1970 WORLD CUP SCORERS
Gerd Muller (FRG) 10
Jairzinho (BRA) 7
Teofilo Cubillas (PER) 5
Pele (BRA) 4
Anatoly Bishovets (USSR) 4
1970 WORLD CUP TRIVIA
– The ninth World Cup finals in the thin air of Mexico were the first held in the CONCACAF continent.
– For the first time substitutes were allowed in all games. The use of red and yellow cards by referees was also introduced, yet, amazingly, no players were sent off in this tournament.
– For the first time matches were broadcast live to all points of the globe.
– Hosts Mexico drew their first game 0-0 with the USSR in the magnificent Azteca Stadium. The first substitution was made when the Soviets replaced Victor Serebriannikov with Anatoli Puzach.
– England beat Romania 1-0 in their first game with Geoff Hurst scoring the goal. England’s first substitute was Tommy Wright who replaced Keith Newton.
– Israel, making their debut in the finals, lost their opening game 2-0 to Uruguay in Group Two. West Germany beat Morocco, who were also making their finals debut, 2-1 in Leon. Belgium beat another first time finalist, El Salvador, 3-0.
– Uwe Seeler of West Germany became the first European player to appear in four consecutive finals in their match against Morocco and he scored one of the goals.
– Gerd Muller, later to finish top scorer with 10 goals, scored the first hat-trick of the finals in West Germany’s 5-2 win over Bulgaria.
– Mario Zagallo became the first man to win the World Cup as player and manager.
– In honour of their third World Cup victory, Brazil were presented with the Jules Rimet trophy for all time. A new trophy was then ordered by FIFA.
1970 WORLD CUP FINALS WINNING SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Ado, Felix, Emerson Leao
Defenders: Baldochi, Brito, Carlos Alberto (capt), Clodoaldo, Edu, Everaldo, Fontana, Joel, Marco, Piazza
Midfielders: Gerson, Paulo Cesar
Forwards: Jairzinho, Dario, Pele, Rivelino, Roberto, Tostao, Ze Maria
Coach: Mario Zagallo