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The Xtra Historic Moment: Garrincha and Pele Captivate Rivals and Royals Alike

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Prince Jean

Jun 27, 2024

The World Cup Throwback

Every day, XtrAfrica highlights a World Cup record. Today’s spotlight is on Garrincha and Pele, whose extraordinary performances in the 1958 World Cup final not only led Brazil to victory but also won the admiration of rivals and royals alike. Credit: Medium

In a match that would be etched in football history, Brazil triumphed over Sweden with a resounding 5-2 victory in the 1958 FIFA World Cup final at the Rasunda Stadium. The match, attended by 49,737 spectators, showcased some of the most extraordinary talents the sport has ever seen.

Match Overview

Brazil's lineup: Gilmar; Djalma Santos, Orlando, Bellini, Nilton Santos; Zito, Didi; Garrincha, Pele, Vava, Zagallo. Coach: Vicente Feola

Brazil Team 1958. Credit: Wikipedia

Sweden's lineup: Kalle Svensson; Orvar Bergmark, Sigge Parling, Bengt Gustavsson, Sven Axbom; Reino Borjesson; Kurt Hamrin, Gunnar Gren, Agne Simonsson, Nils Liedholm, Nacka Skoglund. Coach: George Raynor

Swedish National Team. Credit: Wikipedia

The game began with a bang as Nils Liedholm scored the fastest goal in World Cup final history, putting Sweden ahead in just the 4th minute. Brazil responded swiftly with Vava scoring twice in the first half, followed by goals from Pele, Zagallo, and another from Pele in the second half. Agne Simonsson managed to score for Sweden, but it wasn't enough to halt Brazil's march to their first World Cup title.

Key Moments and Performances

  • Liedholm's Early Strike: Nils Liedholm's goal in the 4th minute briefly gave Sweden hope, but it was quickly overshadowed by Brazil's dominant performance.

  • Garrincha's Brilliance: Garrincha's exceptional play, including setting up two of Vava's goals, was pivotal in Brazil's comeback.

  • Pele's Magic: The 17-year-old Pele dazzled with two goals, including a remarkable sombrero and finish that had even Swedish fans applauding.

  • Zagallo's Contribution: Zagallo added to Brazil's tally, ensuring a comfortable lead.


  • Pele:

“I was just 17. I scored two goals in the World Cup final. I became a world champion. I had the [Swedish] King coming down to embrace, praise me. Those things don’t happen to a 17-year-old boy.”
  • Sigge Parling:

“After they scored their fifth goal, I didn’t feel like marking them anymore. I simply wanted to applaud.”
  • Zagallo:

“Not long before the World Cup it was a battle between Canhoteiro and Pepe to play on the left. I only made my debut a few weeks before we set off for Europe, and then I tore my finger playing in goal during a training session. Suddenly there I was, scoring to help Brazil win a World Cup final. The emotions were indescribable.”

Historical Significance

  • Record Breakers: Pele became the youngest player and scorer in a World Cup final at 17 years and 249 days, while Gunnar Gren became the oldest outfield player at 37 years and 241 days.

  • High-Scoring Final: The 5-2 scoreline made it the highest-scoring World Cup final to date.

  • Iconic Moments: Bellini’s trophy lift started the tradition of captains lifting trophies high for photographers.


  • Uniform Change: Sweden’s coin toss win for jersey rights led Brazil to purchase 13 blue shirts for $35 and stitch badges onto them.

  • Hair-Raising Bet: Liedholm and goalkeeper Kalle Svensson shaved their heads after Sweden reached the final, honoring a pre-tournament bet.

Brazil’s victory in the 1958 World Cup final was more than just a win; it was a showcase of extraordinary talent and a momentous step in football history. The performances of Garrincha, Pele, and their teammates set a new standard for excellence in the sport.

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