Posted: 3/27/2008


       In 1958 at the Rasunda Stadium in Stockholm 17 year old PELE scored twice as Brazil came from behind to win their first ever World Cup, beating the hosts Sweden 5-2.  Rasunda is only one of twp stadiums-the other being The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, to host both the men's and women's World Cup finals. Also, both hosted Olympic finals, Rasunda in 1912 and the Rose Bowl in 1984.

         This week at the Emirates Stadium in North London, we poured out of the Arsenal underground station to witness a rematch, in front of a near capacity crowd of 60,000 at their wonderful new stadium, not far from the old home, Highbury which is being transformed into luxury apartments.

          It was quite a colourful occasion for a friendly, with lots of blue and yellow flags, hats, banners, scarves and I spotted the club shirts and flags of Flamengo, Vasco da Gama, Fluminense,  Sao Paulo, Corinthians, Palmeiros, Atletico Mineiro(CAM), plus Gremio and Internacional fans, rivals from Porto Alegre hand in hand, and many more. The teams wore the same uniforms as 50 years ago. Sweden as host with yellow jerseys and blue shorts, while Brazil played in blue jerseys and white shorts. In 1958 they only had one uniform, so before the final they bought some blue jerseys locally, and cut out the national badge of the CBD (now CBF) and sewed them on the jerseys for the final.  For more about soccer in Brazil read the wonderful FUTEBOL;by Alex Bellos, one of the most interesting books you are likely to read. 

     For the price of a ticket you could have flown London-Stockholm and spent 10 days in a hotel in Sweden back in 1958. I still have the official programme of that final, plus Brazil-England in Goteborg and others. The 5.00 prgramme at the Emirates and a 6.00 burger would have given you first class seats at a dozen matches 50 years ago at the World Cup.  I watched the final on a 9 inch black and white television.  At The Emirates they had 2 huge colour televisions for replays and other information.

          We were even treated to 7 waves by the fans. who were predominately pro BRA-SIL!!! who outnumbered the SVERIGE fans 10-1. I was sitting in front of a fan of Landskrona BoiS near Malmo and we had a friend in common. He used to be coached by Keith Spurgeon, the Englishman who had coached Ajax Amsterdam in the 60's and discovered a waif of a lad called Johann Cruyff,. Johann's mom was a cleaning lady at their old DE MEER stadium, and was fattened up my Mrs. Spurgeon's home cooking at their bungalow in the corner of the ground. Keith later coached the Dallas Tornado and then in Sweden and died quite young. I once bumped into him boarding an an ovrnight Stena Line ferry from Goteborg to Harwich and had a great meal and chat.

           There were no 7 goals this time, but a Joga Bonito(play beautiful)), splendid goal by Alexandre Pato the 18 year old AC Milan sensation brought us all to our feet in the 72nd minute. He had come on for ex Arsenal favourite Julio Baptiste . Goalkeeper Rami Shaaban(who played a few times for Arsenal and West Ham United)  substituted for Manchester City's Andreas Isaksson at half-time, lost control of the ball and almost on the right touchline at an accute angle PATO, the Duck as he is nicknamed, got the ball and chipped  into the empty net for the only goal of the night.  Most exciting player was Anderson of Manchester United who came on in the 62nd minute. He was booed every time he touched the ball by Arsenal fans, still hurting from their embarrasing loss at Old Trafford.