Skip to main content

Soccer great Zico: Brazil '58 best team ever

By Tom McGowan, CNN
July 5, 2012 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Midfielder Zico starred alongside fellow playmaker Socrates in Brazil's team of 1982.
Midfielder Zico starred alongside fellow playmaker Socrates in Brazil's team of 1982.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Football star Zico tells CNN Brazil's 1958 team is the best of all time
  • Spain's Euro 2012 success has led many observers to label them the greatest
  • Brazil won the 1958 World Cup with a team featuring stars such as Pele and Garrincha
  • Spain are the first team to have won three consecutive major tournaments

(CNN) -- Brazilian soccer icon Zico has hailed the South American country's World Cup-winning team of 1958 as the best in the sport's history, ahead of the reigning world and European champions Spain.

After a thumping 4-0 victory over Italy in the final of Euro 2012 last weekend, Spain became the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments -- following on from triumphs at the 2010 World Cup and the European Championship of 2008.

The recent success enjoyed by Vicente del Bosque's team has led some to label them as the finest ever, leading to comparisons with other legendary teams -- such as the Brazil squad which became world champions in 1970.

But former "selecao" star Zico, currently coach of the Iraq national team, selected the Brazil team which lifted the Jules Rimet trophy in Sweden 54 years ago as the finest in football history.

Spain crowned Euro 2012 champions
Spain celebrates historic Euro 2012 win

The greatest football team: Spain 2012 vs. Brazil 1970?

"For me the best national team of all time is the Brazilian team from 1958," Zico, who was part of the much-heralded Brazil team which reached the second group stage of the 1982 World Cup, exclusively told CNN.

Is victorious Spain the best team ever?

"Quite simply because it had, in my opinion, the best players in the world. Pele and Garrincha. They scored a bag full of goals and put in a show in almost every game."

Pele rose to prominence as a 17-year-old at the 1958 tournament, scoring six goals including a brace in Brazil's 5-2 defeat of hosts Sweden in the final.

The striker is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers the sport has ever seen and, after being hampered by injury during his country's 1962 World Cup win, he was a key figure in Brazil's 1970 success.

Garrincha was a tricky winger who not only won the World Cup in 1958, but starred as Brazil retained the trophy in Chile four years later. His four goals made him joint top goalscorer alongside teammate Vava.

The flamboyant Garrincha, who spent the vast majority of his career with Rio de Janeiro-based Botafogo, died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1983 aged 49.

Strutting midfielder Zico is fondly remembered by many football fans for his stylish contribution to the Brazil team which lit up the 1982 competition in Spain, alongside playmaker Socrates.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT