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Xtra - the day Maurice met Garrincha

Posted on 6 February 2013  - 01:09

England face the mighty Brazil at Wembley tonight. The fixture has provided some of the greatest moments in football history as the powerhouses met in the World Cups of 1958, 1962, 1970 and 2002.

Xtra - the day Maurice met Garrincha

In 1962, England faced the Samba Boys in the quarter-finals in Chile. Pele was sidelined but Brazil had another star at the height of his powers - Garrincha.

Our legendary, double-winning centre-back Maurice Norman was in the England team that day – alongside Spurs team-mate Jimmy Greaves - at the Estadio Sausalito in Vina del Mar.

We caught up with Maurice this week, over 50 years after he came face-to-face with the extraordinary talent of the ‘Little Bird’.

MAURICE NORMAN vividly remembers the day he faced one of the world’s greatest-ever players at the height of his powers.

He had just celebrated lifting the FA Cup for the second-successive year at Spurs when he was named in England’s World Cup squad for the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile.

The tall, elegant centre-half was in England’s World Cup squad in 1958 without featuring and having established himself in Bill Nicholson’s all-conquering team at White Hart Lane – he missed just one match of the double campaign – he finally won his first full England cap in a pre-World Cup friendly against Peru in Lima in May, 1962.

All roads then led to Chile as Maurice and Greavesie, joined the likes of Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Johnny Haynes in Walter Winterbottom’s squad.

England recovered from a loss against Hungary to qualify for the knockout stages with a win against Argentina and draw against Bulgaria.

Brazil, defending the trophy, were unbeaten but lost the mercurial talent of Pele in the group stages. It didn’t matter though, as Garrincha stepped up to the plate.

Garrincha (left) with Brito

He was almost unplayable as Brazil won 3-1 on June 10, 1962. Full of tricks, flicks and turns, with pace to burn and a lethal shot, the man from Pau Grande opened the scoring with a header from a corner and after Gerry Hitchens levelled for the Three Lions, Garrincha hit a free-kick that struck the woodwork allowing Vava to head home for 2-1. He then delivered his masterpiece, a curler into the top corner from fully 30 yards to secure victory.

Garrincha scored another two goals in the semi-final against Chile and was named Player of the Tournament as Brazil secured the trophy with a 3-1 win in the final against Czechosolovakia.

“I hadn’t won a cap before I went out on the tour that summer,” reflected Maurice. “I got my first cap against Peru in Lima, alongside Bobby Moore. We were both novices, really. We were then straight into the big one, the World Cup.

“Brazil were a great side, no doubt about it. I remember they had a couple of free-kicks. We all lined-up as normal, as we did in England and no-one moved, but Garrincha hit a banana kick around the wall and Ron Springett in goal, he didn’t move. None of us did. It was the first time I’d come across that type of free-kick. I hadn’t seen that before.

“Garrincha, he famously had one leg shorter than the other, but we was one of the fastest players I’d ever seen. He played on the right. I think Ray Wilson was up against him, Ray was quite fast as well, but I remember in the middle of the first half Garrincha went past him and suddenly it was me against him. That frightened the life out of me! Having said that, I managed to get him a couple of times!

“They were great players, all of them. Vava was a lovely man as well. He said to me after the match, ‘come on, let’s have a drink together’. I was quite a shy young man, I suppose, and that was nice.

“I played in some fantastic matches during my career and that was one of the highlights. I played against Brazil twice more after that, a draw at Wembley (1-1 in 1963) and then in another tournament a year later (the Brazilian Jubilee Tournament, a 5-1 loss). They were always magnificent occasions.”

Maurice went on to help us make history the following season by lifting the European Cup Winners Cup. In total, he made 411 appearances for us between 1955-65 and won 23 caps for England.