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Memories of Brazil...

Posted on 1 July 2010  - 12:00

The words ‘Brazil' and ‘World Cup' bring the memories flooding back to our legendary winger Cliff Jones.

Memories of Brazil...

The words ‘Brazil' and ‘World Cup' bring the memories flooding back to our legendary winger Cliff Jones.

So as the Samba class of 2010 prepare for a quarter-final against Holland in South Africa, Cliff reflects on quarter-final back in Sweden in 1958, Wales against Brazil, the birth of Pele, Brazil's first triumph and what might have been for Cliff and his Welsh wizards.

Wales were strong. They included Cliff and two Spurs team-mates in Mel Hopkins and Terry Medwin, the great John Charles, Arsenal keeper Jack Kelsey and Ivor Allchurch, who Cliff describes as the ‘golden boy' of Welsh football.

They came through a play-off against the great Hungary side, runners-up in 1954, to take their place in the quarter-final at the Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg.

Robbed of the services of John Charles - injured in the play-off against Hungary - Wales were outstanding against a Brazil side that included the likes of Pele, Garrincha, Zito and Didi.

Cliff, now 75, says he played his best football of the tournament as Wales pushed Brazil all the way. The same could be said of Hopkins, who kept Garrincha, one of the world's best-ever wingers, quiet down his flank.

In the end one goal separated the teams - Pele's first at the World Cup - a low strike from 12 yards in the 73rd minute.

Brazil blossomed and Pele exploded from there. They hammered France 5-2 in the semi-final - Pele scored twice - and repeated the trick in the final against Sweden. Pele scored twice again, including the famous goal where he lobbed the ball over Gustavsson and volleyed home.

So Brazil and Pele had arrived - this the first of five World titles so far - but they knew they were pushed to the limit by Wales.

It could have all been so different...

"When I look back, regret isn't the right word," said Cliff this week. "It's more of a case of what might have been.

"For a start, John Charles was stretchered off against Hungary. Unfortunately, he couldn't play for us against Brazil. To this day, I have a theory that had John played we would have been in with a huge chance.

"He was a special player for us and if he had played, who knows...?

"But we were superb that day, back to front. We created lots of chances, Mel Hopkins kept Garrincha quiet. He was Brazil's main man, but Mel didn't let him have a kick.

"We were a great team with some top, top players.

"Looking back, it was a privilege to be on the pitch at the emergence of Pele, possibly the greatest player of all time. We knew then he was something special and would go all the way.

"Brazil had so many wonderful players - yet we pushed them all the way. I believe even now that was our greatest moment."