2. Obdulio Varela

obdulio-varela

The intimidating atmosphere of the Maracana did not deter him.

Neither did the newspapers that had already proclaimed Brazil as champions of the world. In fact, Obdulio Varela had the perfect remedy. He rounded up as many of those newspapers as he could and symbolically ordered his Uruguayan teammates to urinate on them.

And even when the Uruguayan manager’s tactics called for Uruguay to be defensive — and after the Uruguayan FA had indicated that anything less than four goals would be acceptable — Varela simply refused to believe in the negative.

For him, the 1950 World Cup was there to be won, and it did not matter how illogical it seemed in front of a very packed Maracana facing a much fancied Brazil. He again gathered his players and convinced them that the manager’s tactics would simply not work; that to attack was the only option.

And even when Brazil did eventually get the opener, Varela used psychology to quiet down the stadium. Arguing with the referee over a non-existent offside for so long a period that an interpreter had to be called onto the field, Varela succeeded in ensuring that Brazil could not build on the elation created by the crowd immediately after the goal had been scored. By the time he was done, the crowd had become bored. More importantly, they were now silent.

It was then that Varela now used his bullish force and elegant passing to dominate the midfield. The Brazilian players now began to shrink in the presence of him. They could only watch as one of his passes down the right led to the cross that brought about the equaliser.

And while Alcides Ghiggia would probably go on to score the most famous goal ever scored on Brazilian soil, it is Varela’s contribution that formed the platform. Ghiggia may have ultimately hushed them, but it was Varela who had begun the process.

Rather than a Brazilian captain lifting the World Cup trophy on home soil, it became Varela who in his celeste Uruguayan shirt that received the trophy.

[image courtesy of imortais do futebol]

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