Zagallo: From Player to Coach

zagallo and his beloved 13 jersey

In the world of football, there are few names as iconic as Zagallo. This Brazilian legend has made a name for himself both as a player and a coach, leaving a lasting impact on the sport. In this Dica, we will take a closer look at the life and career of Zagallo, from his early days as a player to his successful coaching career. Get ready to learn about Zagallo and his world cup performances in 1958, 1962, 1970 and 1994! Can you guess Mário Lobo Zagallo’s age? What about Zagallo relation to Pelé in the Brazil squad? You will learn this and much more today!

Early Life

Zagallo, whose full name is Mário Jorge Lobo Zagallo, was born on August 9, 1931, in Maceió, Brazil. He began his football career at the young age of 18, playing for the youth team of América, a team from Rio de Janeiro. He then went on to play for several other clubs, including Flamengo, Botafogo, and Corinthians.

Zagallo was considered a player ahead of his time. This is because he did his defensive work very well, in addition to being able to execute attacks from deep in the field. He was also capable of playing as a striker, main striker or inside forward. How versatile!

If you want to watch a Brazilian soccer game live, with teams like Flamengo and Botafogo, you can come to our RioLIVE! activities. These activities, which are included in our classes in Rio, will help you achieve fluency in Portuguese and also understand more about Brazilian soccer!

Zagallo and the Brazil Squad

the incredible duo, pelé and zagallo in 1970.
Pelé and Zagallo. Picture by Wikicommons.

Zagallo in 1958 World Cup

His victories with teams in Rio and winning the Taça Brasil led to him to the Brazilian team. With him, Brazil innovated tactically and played in 1958 with new framing schemes. Zagallo was a left winger who also dropped back to help in midfield. Let’s take a look at his performance which helped Brazil win the title that year!

Zagallo in 1962 World Cup

In the following World Cup, in 1962, Zagallo was a starter due to the injury of Pepe, a great star and Pelé‘s strike partner. So yes, Zagallo was a great help on the Brazil team and Pelé’s partner with two consecutive wins in the 1958 and 1962 World Cup!

Zagallo as a Coach

jairzinho and zagallo during the 1970 world cup.
Player Jairzinho and Zagallo as the Brazilian team coach. Picture by Wikicommons.

Zagallo in 1970 World Cup

After retiring from his successful career as a professional player, Zagallo immersed himself in the captivating world of coaching. And he effortlessly established his prominent reputation. It was through his profound expertise and strategic approach that he skillfully guided the Brazilian national team to a remarkable triumph in the highly acclaimed 1970 World Cup. It was the 1970 World Cup that propelled Zagallo as the first one to have the ultimate victory both as a player and a coach.

Zagallo in 1994 World Cup

Zagallo didn’t arrive at the 1994 World Cup as a coach, but rather as a technical coordinator, to assist the then coach Parreira. His role was to advise and help coach Parreira to lead the Brazilian team into victory. And his job was well done, to the point where he conquered the title with the team!

Zagallo in 1998 World Cup

Zagallo also helmed the Brazilian squad as a coach in the fiercely contested 1998 World Cup, guiding them to an exceptional performance that led them to the final. But, unfortunately, the Brazilian squad met France, and lost the possible title.

Zagallo also had success at the club level, coaching teams such as Flamengo, Corinthians, and Vasco da Gama. He won several titles with these teams, including the Brazilian Championship and the Copa Libertadores.

The Number 13

Zagallo was deeply attached to the number thirteen, believing it gave him good luck since his playing days. This originated with his wife, who was a devotee of Saint Anthony, celebrated on June 13th. Even their wedding took place on January 13, 1955, to bring good luck to the couple. But his superstition regarding the number 13 made him bring it to the public a few times when (according to him) the number was present in his career. Let’s take a look, and you might agree with him!

  • The 1958 and 1994 World Cups which Zagallo participated are years whose last two digits (5+8 and 9+4) add up to thirteen.
  • In 1958, 13th place was rival Argentina, the competition’s top scorer scored 13 goals (Just Fontaine, from France, more goals in the same edition) and the Pelé-Vavá-Mazzola trio equally (6, 5 and 2 goals, respectively).
  • The 1962 edition was in Chile (5 letters): 6 + 2 + 5 = 13.
  • In 1962 he completed 13 years of career as a professional player.
  • The 1970 World Cup which Zagallo participated as coach was in Mexico (6 letters): 7 + 0 + 6 = 13.
  • In 1962 and 1994, the Seleção played in the semi-finals on June 13th and July 13th, respectively. The 1958 semi was Brazil’s 13th World Cup victory.
  • The 1994 World Cup was held in the United States, and Zagallo was a technical coordinator. The United States’ name in Portuguese has thirteen letters, as does the national flag with thirteen stripes.
  • Celebrating Brazil’s victory in the 2004 Copa América, he said: “Brasil campeão tem 13 letras e Argentina vice também!” (Brazil champion has 13 letters and Argentina vice too!).

Legacy and Impact

Zagallo is one of the greatest players and coaches in the country’s history, and his achievements have inspired many young players and coaches. His style of play, which focused on attacking and creative football, has also influenced the way the game is played in Brazil. Zagallo’s legacy extends beyond Brazil as well. He is highly respected in the football world and has been recognized by FIFA for his contributions to the sport. In 1998, he was named one of the top 10 coaches of the 20th century by the organization.

In conclusion, Zagallo is a true legend of Brazilian football. His achievements as a player and a coach have cemented his place in the history of the sport. His impact on the game is still here today, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations of players and coaches. What about you? What do you think about Zagallo’s performance during the 1958, 1962, 1970 and 1994 World Cups? Tell us in the comments!

Hugs from Brazil!

Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Rio de Janeiro Football Teams
Football Vocabulary in Portuguese
Sports in Portuguese

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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