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
CNN Football Club
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
The 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy, which claimed 96 lives, brought the red and the blue halves of Liverpool together.
CNN's Don Riddell says the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy has caused irreparable damage to the families of the 96 victims and the survivors.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
The Champions league trophy stands on show during the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions league at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Two European heavyweights will collide in the Champions League semifinals after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were drawn together in Switzerland.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
West Bromwich Albion's French striker Nicolas Anelka looks on during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, on January 1, 2014.
England prides itself on being the home of football, but is the nation dysfunctional in dealing with racist abuse?
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
In a city where football is a religion, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge is fast becoming a deity.
French former football player Zinedine Zidane reacts during the gala football 'Match Against Poverty' organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on March 4, 2014 in Bern.
Some of the biggest names in football lined up for a charity match, but CNN's Tom McGowan wonders if they can help beat poverty.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
"Everyone is scared about war -- they are very nervous," former Ukraine football star Oleg Luzhny says of the rising tensions with Russia.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1807 GMT (0207 HKT)
Bayern Munich's present success rests on one key decision, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells CNN.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0922 GMT (1722 HKT)
Neymar
"More than a Club." It is an image Barcelona has carefully cultivated, but could the controversial deal to sign Neymar sour that view?
February 1, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Affectionately known as "the wise man of Hortaleza," Luis Aragones -- who died aged 75 -- left the legacy of helping Spain's ascension to the top.
January 23, 2014 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)
Real Madrid hasn't won the European Champions League in over a decade, but the Spanish club is invincible in one field -- making money.
The naming of the world's best footballer is not all that it seems, says CNN's James Masters.
ADVERTISEMENT