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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Flashback: Tears of Regret and Friendship: Bebeto and Leonardo in World Cup 1994

Pele's tears of joy after Brazil won the 1958 World Cup in Sweden are well documented in photographic and video archives, as are Mario Zagallo's tears of joy in World Cup 1998 and Romario's tears of sadness after failing to make the 1998 World Cup squad. Less well known are Leonardo's tears of regret after earning a red card for elbowing Tab Ramos in the Brazil v. USA second round match of World Cup 1994. The Brazil v. USA match famously marked the continued evolution of the Romario and Bebeto strike partnership, featuring, in this case, Romario's assist to Bebeto after overcoming a tangle of defenders. Romario's pass set up Bebeto's game winning, Carlos Alberto-like strike on goal past Tony Meola from the right flank. Bebeto described Leonardo's tears in a FIFA interview as follows:

"When I went into the dressing room at half-time in that game, I saw Leo, someone I've always been very fond of because we started out together with Flamengo. He was sitting there in the corner, crying his eyes out, so I told him not to worry as I would score the winning goal for us."

Bebeto returns to the dressing room at half time to find Leonardo bawling his eyes out and consoles him by telling him he will score the winning goal and negate the setback to the Brazil team created by Leonardo's red card. In this exchange, Bebeto performs what contemporary psychologists call self-actualization by visualizing himself scoring the crucial game winning goal. True to his vision, Bebeto went on to score in precisely the manner that he promised to his friend and teammate Leonardo.

Speaking of his promise to Leonardo, Bebeto remarked:

"And with the help of God I did. When I returned to the dressing room afterwards, he gave me a big hug and thanked me profusely. Without a doubt, I felt something very strong in that game. Something God-given."

Something viscerally powerful about the friendship between Bebeto and Leonardo sparks Brazil's victory. Leonardo's tears touch Bebeto to the point where he assumes responsibility for his friend's sadness, and he returns to the pitch intent to restore his friend's spirits. And after the ball touches the back of the net, Bebeto becomes convinced that Brazil will indeed become four times champions with a conviction that borders on the sublime. "From that moment, I was convinced that we would become four-time World Cup winners," Bebeto reflected.

A similar red card incident transpired the next time Brazil won the World Cup in 2002 in the quarterfinals against England. Ronaldinho received a red card for a foul on Danny Mills and this time, Cafu played the role that Bebeto had played in 1994, by putting his arm around Ronaldinho's shoulder as he was leaving the field and telling him with uncanny conviction: "Don't worry. We will win the game for you."

For more on Brazil v. USA, World Cup 1994, see:

Bringing Back the Beautiful Game. Deadly Striker Partnerships: Romario and Bebeto (Part 2 of 2)

Sources cited: Bebeto's FIFA Interview

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