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NY Post
New York Post
6 Jan 2024

NextImg:Mario Zagallo, Brazil’s 4-time World Cup legend, dead at 92: ‘A giant idol’

Soccer legend Mario Zagallo, who helped Brazil win four World Cups — as a player, coach and assistant coach — died Friday at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro. He was 92.

The cause of death was multiple organ failure, according to Brazilian news outlets, which said he had been in hospital on the outskirts of Rio since December 26.

“A devoted father, a loving grandfather, a sweet brother-in-law, a faithful friend, a victorious professional and a great human being,” said a post announcing his death on Instagram.

“A giant idol, a patriot who leaves behind a legend of great conquests.”

His dream was to become an airline pilot, but was forced to abandon that career due to his poor eyesight.

Zagallo began his soccer career in the 1950s, playing for local Rio clubs America, Flamengo and Botafogo. He played on the country’s national team in 1958 when it won the World Cup in Sweden. He was also part of the team that took the World Cup in Chile in 1962.

Brazilian soccer legends Pele and Mario Zagallo embrace after Zagallo was named coach of the Brazilian national team for the World Cup in 1970. AP

After he stopped playing professionally in 1965, he went on to manage the Botafogo soccer club in Rio de Janeiro, and two years later was named the national team coach in 1970.

That year, the Brazilian national team playing in Mexico included legendary players Pele, Jairzinho, and Tostao, among others. The team won the World Cup, beating Italy 4-1 in the final game — which is still considered one of soccer’s greatest matches.

Legendary soccer player and coach Mario Zagallo helped Brazil win four World Cups. He died on Friday. AFP via Getty Images
Mario Zagallo dreamed of being a pilot when he was a child in the 1940s but turned to soccer due to poor eyesight. Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images

In 1994, Zagallo served as assistant coach to Carlos Alberto Parreira when Brazil won the World Cup in the US. Zagallo also guided the United Arab Emirates to its first World Cup final match in 1990.

He retired from coaching in 2006, according to Brazilian media reports.

After helping Brazil win two World Cups as a player, Mario Zagallo turned to coaching in the 1960s. He helped the country win two more World Cups. Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Zagallo’s funeral, which is open to the public, will take place at the Confederation of Brazilian Soccer in Rio on Sunday, according to an Instagram post. The organization announced seven days of official mourning.

“The CBF and Brazilian soccer mourn the death of one of its greatest legends — Mario Jorge Lobo Zagallo,” said CBF president Ednaldo Rodrigues. “The CBF offers solidarity to his family and fans in this moment of grief.”