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FIFA World Cup History

Mexico 1970 FIFA World Cup

1970 World Cup Betting

Year: 1970

Participants: 16

Countries: Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, El Salvador, England, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Romania, Sweden, Uruguay, USSR, West Germany

Championship: Brazil 4, Italy 1

Top goal scorer: Gerd Muller, West Germany (10)

Talk about great farewells: Mexico in 1970 was the stage for the final performance of Pele, the world's greatest player.

Following the disappointment of 1966, when Brazil didn't even make it out of the first round, Pele had vowed he would not play in the World Cup again. The football world was blessed by his change of heart. In a tournament that would be his final showcase, Pele was magnificent as Brazil rolled to the finals against Italy. And the finals would be the blaze of glory he richly deserved.

The tournament was played in less-than-ideal conditions in Mexico, given the heat, playing conditions and political problems. But the tournament was a great success, making up for the poor play and bad officiating of 1966. The games were contested from May 31 to June 21 in Mexico City, Puebla, Toluca, Guadalajara and Leon.

Brazil was the Cup favorite, but it faced questions about its defense. Italy had the frontline talent to challenge Brazil's rear guard. But its tactics left many observers confused, and several coaching decisions were the subject of controversy for years to come.

Into the breach stepped Pele, with his skill, audacity and effectiveness at their zenith. He scored 18 minutes into the championship match on a soaring header, a breath-taking play on a high, unexceptional cross.

Brazil proceeded to give away the advantage seven minutes before halftime on a terrible back-heeled ball that led to an Italian break. Boninsegna blew past Brazilian goaltender Felix and popped the ball into an empty net.

Pele rallied his side at halftime, resulting in Gerson's low, left-footed shot from outside the penalty box that found the net. Five minutes later, Pele's skillful touch to Jairzinho produced a 3-1 lead and the end for Italy. Pele also had a hand in the match's final tally, slipping Jairzinho's pass to his right to Carlos Alberto for a thunderous shot.

The 4-1 final and the joyous celebration that followed were fitting farewells to Pele and the Jules Rimet Trophy. Pele, a 17-year-old hero in Sweden in 1958, made up for his injury-plagued disappointments in 1962 and 1966 and carried Samba Soccer to the summit. The Rimet, symbol of soccer supremacy, was retired to Brazil with the side's third World Cup title.

But for the world's soccer faithful, Mexico 1970 was the Pele showcase. On a team of virtuoso players, Pele would forever be remembered as the star of stars.

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