Vava leaps into the history books

Just four players have scored in two FIFA World Cup™ Finals, and only one has managed it in successive editions. That man was Vava, and in the process of helping Brazil to glory in 1958 and 1962, he proved to be the ultimate big-game player.

Of his 15 goals for A Seleção , spread over nine years, nine came at the World Cup. Of those, seven were scored in the Final (3), semi-final (3) or quarter-final (1). The other two saved his team from an unthinkable group-stage exit in 1958. Put simply: the more significant the occasion, the more likely it was that Vava would find the net.

The goal he is pictured celebrating in this image was the last of his nine World Cup strikes, and it was well worth savouring. Vava’s close-range effort, the striker having pounced on a goalkeeping error, confirmed that Brazil would retain their crown. It also completed a fine comeback after the holders had fallen a goal down to Czechoslovakia.

Shorn of Pele, who had been injured during the group phase, and with Garrincha ill and off form in the Final, Brazil had needed the team’s less-heralded heroes to step forward. Men such as Vava, Mario Zagallo and Zito all responded to secure a memorable 3-1 win. “It was such a mature and experienced side that not even the absence of Pele could upset us,” said Zagallo. “There was no way we were going to lose that title.”

As for Vava, a player whose immense physical strength earned him the nickname ‘Peito de Aço’ (Steel Chest), he left Chile as the tournament’s joint-top scorer. He also departed having etched his name into World Cup folklore – and the tournament’s record books.

Did you know?
The FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich features an exhibition on the 1962 FIFA World Cup, and among the items of interest are original matchboxes from Brazil with player portraits – including Vava’s.