Franz Beckenbauer – West Germany

Several great players were to make their presence known in 1970. Franz Beckenbauer, who had already appeared in the 1966 World Cup Final for West Germany, had fully matured as a player. Nicknamed “the Kaiser”, this highly gifted footballer was equally at home marshalling a defence or leading an attack. Football formations had continued to evolve over the years, yet the scope for finding new methods was still there. Because of Beckenbauer West Germany were able to adopt a sweeper system, for the great man was able to sit in front of the back four to intercept and break up attacks, often before they had even occurred to his opponents. His magnificent movements on and off the ball, when he played in his position just behind his midfield, meant that he had time to send forward the most telling pass, short or long, it mattered little to Beckenbauer, for he could do them both. His timing was such that he could run forward to adding telling pressure to a West German attack, but could scamper back so rapidly that his absence was scarcely noticed. He offered West Germany both security and menace, and was largely responsible for West German successes in international football.

Jairzinho - Brazil

Born in Rio de Janeiro on Christmas day 1944, Jairzinho made his debut for Brazil in 1963 against Chile. However, injury and the presence of the great Garrincha meant that Jairzinho didn’t have a sustained run in the Brazilian team until the 1970 World Cup. Lightly built, Jairzinho would have preferred to have played in a more central position in the Brazil attack, however, the presence of the supreme football artist Pelé meant banishment to the wings; nonetheless, Jairzinho was deadly, for his shooting was powerful and accurate. There, perhaps, has never been a more exciting player than Jairzinho, who liked nothing more than sprinting at terrifying speed towards the opposing goal line; not easy to dispossess, the opposing fullback would, as like as not, make a clumsy challenge that would send Jairzinho flying: he was, therefore, very prone to injury. In compensation for his team, giving away a free kick to Brazil has always been a risky proposition if the goal is within range. Jairzinho scored several spectacular goals in his career, of which more anon.

Tostao - Brazil

Tostao, who had performed credibly for Brazil in 1966, was perhaps the bravest player who played in the Finals in 1970. For he had been struck full in the face by a ferocious clearance from Corinthians defender Ditao in a match in the Brazilian league in 1968; the force of the clearance was such that one of Tostao’s retinas had become detached. Tostao’s doctors recommended an operation, and they warned the forward that they could give no guarantees were he to continue to play professional football. Danny Blanchflower, captain of the great Tottenham Hotspur side of the 1960s, once commented: “Football is not really about winning, or goals, or saves, or supporters: it’s about glory. It’s about doing things in style, doing them with a flourish; it’s about going out to beat the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom; it’s about dreaming of the glory ...”. This sentiment epitomised Tostao (and Brazil), who decided to risk much for the chance of the title “World Champion”. Tostao remained a very influential player for Brazil, although he had become much more cagey when it came to challenging in the air. Tostao had lost none of his perceptiveness when it came to positioning in anticipation of through balls; his ability to trap and bring under control a ball remained unsurpassed, as did his skill in holding onto possession until support had arrived. Often his opponents couldn’t even see the ball, never mind put in a tackle. For he could twist and turn, sinuously advancing to the opponent’s goal whilst so doing; what made him the worst nightmare for many a defence was the extreme difficulty of guessing what Tostao would do next. Highly experienced, Tostao had made his debut for Brazil in 1963, he was never to play better than he did in 1970.

Giancinto Fachetti - Italy

At twenty-eight years of age Giancinto Fachetti was in the prime of his career. Capable of running eighty meters in 8.8 seconds, he provided a security at left back that was unmatched in Europe. Operating the catenaccio system made the Italian team was the most defensively minded in the competition, scoring against them was extremely difficult. Yet Fachetti, with his pace, also presented a serious menace to opposing defences, scoring no less than ten times in one season at club level in Italy, no mean feat for a defender in that most security conscious of leagues. With that scoring reputation it was unbelievable but true that Fachetti could man mark an opponent out of the game. Born in 1942 in Treviglio, Fachetti made his international debut in 1963 against debut. He was part of the Italian side humiliated by North Korea in 1966. His lengthy international career ended in 1977, when he was a member of the Italian side beaten by England at Wembley. He was perhaps a trifle unfortunate never to belong to a team that won the World Cup.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.