Tomorrow the greatest stadium of the world will be 50 years old
the hall of fame will be opened tomorrow with the 50 most important players
In the Urugay game loads of events will happen to remember the 50 years of Maracana, and the biggest defeat in Brazilina football history. That 2x1 to the los hermanos!
Pele leads tributes as Maracana celebrates 50th birthday
By Brian Homewood
RIO DE JANEIRO, June 16 (Reuters)(DS) - Pele led the tributes on Friday as the most revered names in Brazilian soccer history celebrated the Maracana stadium's 50th anniversary on a nostalgic, emotion-charged day.
Former greats Nilton Santos, Didi, Zico, Tele Santana,
Jairzinho, Zizinho, Roberto, Mario Zagallo, Vava, Didi, Gerson, Jair da Rosa Pinto, Gilmar and Dirceu Lopes helped Pele inaugurate a "pavement of fame" at the main entrance to the legendary stadium.
The former players, who like the stadium itself hail from an enduring era in wich Brazilian soccer had a mystical aura that has since been shattered by modern commercialism, dipped their feet in wet cement to leave their indelible marks in front of the ground.
They then gathered in the middle of the hallowed pitch and
sang a chorus of happy birthday.
"It's a great emotion to put my feet in this pavement," said Zagallo, who won the World Cup as a player in 1958 and 1962, as a coach in 1970 and who also led Brazil at the last World Cup.
"The Maracana represents everything for me and all those who have played here. This will perpetuate my name forever."
Santana, who coached Brazil at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, was the first to leave his footprints and was too emotional to talk.
The stadium, officially named "Estadio Mario Filho", was
inaugurated on June 16, 1950, with a match between a Rio de
Janeiro and Sao Paulo select XI.
Didi had the honour of scoring the first goal. Shortly afterwards the Maracana witnessed one of soccer's
greatest upsets when Brazil were beaten 2-1 by unfancied Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final.
That match is still remembered and, curiously, the next
international at the stadium will be a World Cup qualifier
between the two countries on April 28.
Since its inauguration the stadium has seen moments of
majestic football skill unequalled anywhere in the world as well as historic incidents such as Pele scoring his 1,000th goal in professional soccer in a game between Santos and Vasco da Gama.
"I still have fantasies about the crowd chanting my name,"
said Zico, who scored a record 382 goals at the stadium.
The biggest official gate is given as 183,341 for a World
Cup qualifier against Paraguay in 1969 when Pele scored in a 1-0 win for Brazil. But it is believed that several games have been watched by unofficial attendances of more than 200,000.
The Maracana has also hosted concerts by artists such as
Frank Sinatra, Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones and Madonna as well as two masses by the Pope on separate visits to Brazil. Two years ago former FIFA president Joao Havelange suggested the stadium should be torn down.
Since then the Rio de Janeiro state government, which still
owns it, has overseen a facelift, prompted by the hosting of this year's world club championship. Plastic seats have been installed on the upper tiers and the ground has been cleaned up. It is now the centrepiece of Brazil's bid to host the 2006 World Cup.
"When Brazil scored, it seemed that your ears were going to
explode," said Didi. "The Maracana is a symbol which must never go away."
And one day after the birthday of the greatest stadium of the world, Flamengo x VAsco play a final, and in the same month Brasil x Uruguay play a WC game. Almost 50 years since that tragic 16 of July of 1950!
The most famous song of Maracana:
DOMINGO, EU VOU AO MARACANA
VOU TORCER PRA TIME QUE SOU FA
VOU LEVAR FOGUETES E BANDEIRAS
NAO VAI SER DE BRICANDEIRA
ELE VAI SER CAMPEAO
NAO QUERO CADEIRA NUMERADA
EU VOU DE ARQUIBANCADA
PRA SENTIR MAIS EMOCAO
PORQUE MEU TIME JOGA PRA VENCER
E O NOME DELES SAO VOCES QUEM VAO DIZER
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