Tim Vickery Column: You never forget your first World Cup
I was a bit too young for Mexico ’70. I had just turned 5, and vaguely recall that the tournament seemed to coincide with the sudden appearance of a little black and white TV in our house. In retrospect I can put the pieces of the jigsaw together and conclude that my dad was desperate to watch the tournament.
And so was I four years later. By now I had just turned 9. I was ready to kick every ball, I collected the sticker album and could hardly wait for the competition to begin. The opening game of West Germany ’74 was Brazil against Yugoslavia. My dad had pumped me full of stories about how great Brazil had been four years earlier, and I was ready for the show to begin.
Only the Brazilian show never really got going. They were very disappointing in that first game – I have not seen it since, but seem to remember that Yugoslavia had marginally the better of a 0-0 draw, as did Scotland in the next game. Only an absurd Zaire goalkeeping blunder allowed Brazil to qualify for the next phase.
Brazil then beat East Germany with a blistering Rivelino free kick that got us all trying to copy him in the park after school. I have no recollection of the subsequent win over Argentina, but can clearly recall the amazement as Brazil lost against Holland in what was effectively the semi final, and unleashed all kinds of violent tackles along the way.
It was not, then, a vintage Brazil side. There were one or two things that impressed, though. There were Rivelino’s free kicks, of course. There was right winger Valdomiro, who did well in the early games. I can remember us in the park fighting for the right to ‘be’ Valdomiro in our kick-abouts. But more than anyone else, there was the left back.
English TV knew him as Francisco Marinho – to differentiate him from the centre back, Mario Marinho. It was only when I came to live in Brazil that I discovered that the locals did not know them by these names – they were, respectively, Marinho Chagas and Marinho Perez.
And now Marinho Chagas has left us. He fell ill and suddenly died at the weekend, at the age of 62. I had always wondered what happened to him after the 1974 World Cup. Those were the days when, to an international audience, Brazilian football only appeared every four years. Between times you had little idea of what was going on. I fully expected to see him rampaging down the left flank in the 1978 World Cup, but he did not make the squad and I never heard of him again – until, in the mid 90s, my girlfriend told me that he had been living near her in the working class suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. This was quite a come down for a World Cup star. The pictures of him revealed a face that was swollen and bloated, the consequence of an alcohol problem that led to his premature demise.
Thankfully, the images from West Germany ’74 live on for eternity. They show a young and glamorous figure, long blonde hair trailing behind him as he charges forward in the adventurous spirit that we all expect from Brazilian football. And as the 1974 World Cup cemented my love for international football, I owe a debt to Marinho Chagas, and will happily carry around in my mind the memory of one of his forward surges on a German field.