Tim Vickery: Carlos Alberto was Brazil's greatest captain

Brazil's legendary leader Carlos Alberto passed away on Tuesday

Carlos Alberto, Brazil, 1970

Image: Peter Robinson EMPICS Sport

Brazil's iconic World Cup-winning captain Carlos Alberto passed away on Tuesday at the age of 72. 

The legendary player was a huge figure in football all over the world, but was particularly revered in his home country after leading them to glory in 1970, scoring one of the most famous goals ever in the process. 

Speaking to Off the Ball on Tuesday night, Tim Vickery highlighted just how important Carlos Alberto had been to the footballing landscape in Brazil, and how he was an integral part of what has widely become known as the greatest team to ever play the game. 

 

"Brazil have probably produced better defensive right backs - he was quite tall for the position and sometimes off balance. Defensively, he was probably better as a centre back, where he ended his career, but he could get forward. He was a very, very fine player indeed, who scored that goal. If you want a goal which is like a celebration of football's collective childhood, it's that goal."

"It's the beautiful simplicity of football encapsulated in one moment, even the ball seems to be in on the act; it sits up beautifully for Carlos Alberto to absolutely crash it home. It's a magnificent way to crown the perfect tournament competition: six games, six wins, you can't do it any better than that. 

"If you're only going to be remembered for one cup, then let it be that one, and that moment."

While he will be forever remembered as the man who scored such a magnificent goal, the move which embodies the joga bonito philosophy, Vickery explained that he was hugely valued as a captain in Brazil, and revered as such even after he hung up his boots.

"Probably even more important than his status as a player, was his importance as a leader. He's always been referred to in Brazil as capita, which is kind of slang for 'skipper'. He was the one who banged heads together [...] the one who would represent the payers, he would go and have rows with the directors about prize money and stuff like that. He was the one who would tell anyone, even his great mate Pelé, that it was time to do some hard work and pull your finger out." 

However, despite his legendary status, he only managed to make it to one World Cup in 1970. That was partly due to injury in later years, but his unifying, strong presence both on and off the pitch proved to be a vital missing ingredient for the team.

"He should have gone to England in '66, but Brazil made a mess of their preparation," Vickery told Off the Ball. "In '74, he was injured, and I think he was badly missed because the stories from that dressing room are that it was divided very much along regional lines; the players from Rio, the players from São Paulo, and so on. Under Carlos Alberto, that would never have happened."

Despite the fact that there may well have been other players who were more talented or naturally suited to playing the position he occupied on the pitch, Vickery was in no doubt that he would be in any Brazil team given his natural leadership ability.

"There have been times when Brazil have fallen apart a little, as they did during the last World Cup, and there's the idea that you need a strongman, the shouter on the pitch [...] If you were to pick an All-Time Brazil XI, you might think of Djamla Santos, Jorginho - maybe even Cafu - as better right backs. The competition is pretty stiff. But I think Carlos Alberto would probably get in, in order to be the captain and lead that team out."