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by soccernet!

Aldair looks back at 1994

Aldair: Brazilian class of '94
When Brazil win the greatest prize of them all, the world order appears to be restored in some curious way - and that was the ultimate outcome of USA'94.

Not that the nation who built their reputation on fantasy football returned to the top in the manner that made them a second favourite team for every football fan.

The blame for their unsatisfactory final success in Pasadena could have been put down to the Italian side. They seemed to do their best to ruin a World Cup Final which hardly did much to thrill an American public who have long been reluctant to embrace the game loved more than any other.

This was a clash between two sides whose desperation not to lose meant that neither was prepared to take risks for the good of the game.

As Brazilian World Cup winner Aldair readily confirms, his vision of winning the ultimate prize was tarnished by the manner of the success.

'When you get into the Brazil team, the only dream can be winning the World Cup,' says the former Roma defender. 'And that means a wonderful day in the Final playing the sort of football we only know.

'It wasn't the way we did it in 1994, and the whole squad knew that winning with a penalty shoot-out is not the perfect way, but sometimes you can't have everything.

'At least we could say that Brazil were the best team in the tournament and deserved to win the Final. We didn't go through the tournament on mere luck, and if you win a penalty shoot-out after using negative tactics, then it would be hard to say you are true champions. That could never be the situation for us.'

Aldair's words are not without foundation. By waltzing their way through the opening round after wins over Russia and Cameroon, Team USA had their dream second round clash as they faced Brazil in San Francisco on July 4th, their celebrated Independence Day.

Against Sweden's Martin Dahlin in the semi-final

The narrow nature of the 1-0 defeat for the hosts proved that the tournament favourites were not at their best, but they put it right with a thrilling 3-2 win in the quarter-final against Holland.

'That Brazil side had so much going for it,' reflects Aldair. 'We had Romario and Bebeto up front and they were in wonderful form. Then we had a midfield with a nice balance of flair and hard working qualities and our coach Carlos Alberto Parreira had prepared us perfectly.

'The other important point was that we were totally unified and that is not always the case with our teams.

'They talk about the big names and big egos in the Brazil squad and it can be difficult at times, but you have to believe me when I say that was not a problem in 1994. We were united and that helped us come through when we had some tough times.

'They said at the time that Romario was causing problems in the camp, but I don't remember that. Anyway, there was not time for petty squabbles and we were all on a mission to win the World Cup.

'Brazil had not won the trophy since 1970, and that was far too long for a country with our football tradition.'

For Aldair, the World Cup dream was to come sooner than he dared to believe. The defensive qualities of the free flowing South Americans is often overlooked as their star talents light up the proceedings at the other end of the pitch and snatch all the headlines, but with four clean sheets in their seven games, this was a triumph for the back line as well as the forwards.

'It was a brilliant World Cup for me personally,' adds Aldair. 'To begin with I had not expected to be in the starting line-up at all. Ricardo Gomes was injured and the coach asked me to take his place.

The Final: Blocking Italy's Nicola Berti (Allsport)

'Carlos Alberto Parreira had great faith in me and I rewarded him with some good performances. It may have been a gamble for him to use me, but my form was good.

'In the end you have the emotion. Not many people can say they have played in the World Cup Final and won the trophy. It is something they can never take from you.

'The manner of the success was not Brazilian, but the victory was. We have to win the World Cup every time it is played so the pressure is massive. To live up to that expectation and give the people what they want was so special.'
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