He shaped Brazilian football for decades and Pelé raved about him. And just over a year after Brazil had to mourn Pelé, the football nation is now mourning the death of Mario Zagallo.
The family of the former soccer world champion announced on Instagram on Saturday night (local time) that Zagallo had died at the age of 92. "A devoted father, loving grandfather, loving father-in-law, loyal friend, successful professional and a great person," it said next to a black and white photo in which Zagallo is holding two World Cup trophies.
“A patriot who leaves us a legacy of great success,” the family statement continued. “My condolences,” wrote former Bundesliga professional Zé Roberto in the comments. And FIFA President Gianni Infantino was deeply shocked.
Zagallo's legacy cannot be expressed in numbers, his influence on football and especially in Brazil is incomparable, he wrote on Instagram Story on Saturday. "He will be remembered as the forefather of Brazilian football and will be sorely missed by everyone involved. Also and especially here at FIFA. The story of the FIFA World Cup cannot be told without Mário Zagallo."
The Brazilian Football Federation ordered seven days of mourning in honor of Zagallo, who became the first to win the World Cup as both a player and a coach. A minute's silence will be held before this weekend's games. Brazilian football is mourning “one of its greatest legends,” said association president Ednaldo Rodrigues.
The death of the icon means that the headlines surrounding the association and especially Rodrigues are temporarily forgotten. He was initially removed from his post by a regular court due to irregularities in his election, but the Supreme Court overturned the decision on Thursday through an interim injunction. Barely back in office, Rodrigues announced the end of interim national coach Fernando Diniz's short term in office before Zagallo's death became known.
Zagallo won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962 alongside Pelé, who died on December 29, 2022 at the age of 82. In 1970, as national coach, he led the Seleção to their third title win - again with Pelé. “I would like to thank you for everything, because I owe a lot of what has happened in my life and with the Seleção to you,” Pelé once said in a homage to Zagallo by the world football association FIFA on his 90th birthday: “I have many "We've had important coaches, but Zagallo was without a doubt the best of them all."
"I completely changed the Seleção," Zagallo once said: "This team will always be remembered." In 1994 he was assistant coach to Carlos Alberto Parreira when the Brazilians won the World Cup again. After him, only Franz Beckenbauer and the Frenchman Didier Deschamps have won the World Cup as players and coaches.
The German Football League expressed its condolences via Twitter on Saturday. The Brazilian newspaper "O Globo" wrote: "Mário Jorge Lobo Zagallo was - as they say - a happy man. He considered himself that way." The UOL portal paid homage to one of the “biggest names in football”.
In 1950, sport made Zagallo "cry for the first time," according to the article on his 90th birthday at FIFA: The 18-year-old soldier from the state of Alagoas was working for a security company at the Maracana Stadium at the time and was after devastated by Uruguay's surprise win against Brazil in the decisive final game of the World Cup. “Eight years later he cried tears of joy,” it was said about the left winger, who had only played his first international match a month before the World Cup triumph and scored one of his four international goals for Brazil in the final.