‘The English invented it, the Brazilians perfected it.’
As England and Brazil head east to lock horns in the Doha desert this weekend, we thought we’d run down the top five moments between the Seleção and Three Lions. All of these stories and a whole lot more can be found in our new book England On This Day, available here and in all good (and some bad) bookshops.
1970: The greatest save ever made
It may not have been immortalised in song form by Baddiel and Skinner like his skipper’s famous tackle that day, but Gordon Banks’ diving save from Pele’s first-half header in the pulsating 1970 World Cup clash is about as good as it gets. As the Santos striker nodded the ball down he began to turn away, shouting ‘Gooooal’, but Banks flung himself across his goal ‘like a salmon leaping up a waterfall’ as Pele himself later put it when the Stoke ‘keeper managed to tip the ball over the bar. ‘At that moment I hated Gordon Banks more than any man in soccer,’ explained Pele, before obviously remembering he never slags anyone off in case he risks losing a sponsorship deal. ‘But when I cooled down I had to applaud him with my heart for the greatest save I have ever seen.’
1984: Barnes Out-Brazils Brazil
Seasoned football spectators at the Maracanã are no doubt used to seeing players score after mazy 50-yard dribbles every other week, but not surely from young Watford midfielders. Having failed to qualify for Euro 84 England had nothing better to do than to turn up in Rio for an end of season friendly against the Seleção. Picking the ball up just inside the Brazil half Barnsey slalomed his way through the entire Brazilian defence before slotting past the ‘keeper to put England ahead. The Three Lions triumphed 2-0, handing Brazil their first defeat at the Maracanã for 27 years. Barnes said later: ‘I don’t remember much about my goal – I always liken it to an out-of-body experience. I look at it on TV now and I can’t remember doing any of it.’
1992: Lineker misses from the spot
England hosted Brazil at Wembley in a pre-Euro 92 friendly looking for a morale-boosting win before heading out to Sweden. Graham Taylor’s skipper Gary Lineker was eyeing up one last England swansong before his move to Japan’s Grampus 8 after the tournament, with the Spurs striker one short of equalling Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 England goals. When the Three Lions were awarded a penalty with the score at 0-0, up he stepped, but fluffed his chance to equal the record as his weak effort was saved by Carlos in the Brazilian goal. Things didn’t get any better for Lineker that summer, as he failed to find the net in England’s woeful Euro 92 campaign before being infamously subbed off against Sweden and being forever marooned on 48 international goals.
1962: Jimmy Greaves plays Dr Doolitle
England’s World Cup quarter-final against Brazil in 1962 wasn’t a particularly good day at the office, as a Garrincha-inspired Brazil team eased to a 3-1 win, but it did produce one of the more amusing on-pitch moments in England history. A stray dog ran on to the pitch and evaded everyone until Jimmy Greaves got down on all fours and beckoned the canine. He then grabbed the pooch who promptly urinated all over him. ‘I smelt so bad, but at least it meant the Brazilian defenders stayed clear of me,’ he said. Garrincha thought the whole thing was hilarious and kept the dog as a pet.
2002: Sven’s Half-time Team Talk
It was looking good for England. The nation had done the usual trick of being whipped up into a patriotic frenzy, convincing herself that 38 years of hurt was soon to be gone and England would romp to the 2002 World Cup title. As half-time approached England were 1-0 up against Brazil in their quarter-final clash in Shizuoka and keeping the Brazilians at bay. But in stoppage time Rivaldo popped up to equalise, and it was time for Sven-Göran Eriksson to start earning his money with a rip-roaring team talk. However, five minutes after the break England were 2-1 down thanks to a freak Ronaldinho goal, who lofted a 40-yard free kick over a flailing David Seaman after spotting the Arsenal stopper off his line. The lad had obviously done his homework. Even a 56th-minute red card for Ronaldinho didn’t stop the Brazilians, who held on to a 2-1 win on their way to winning a fifth World Cup. Gareth Southgate pointed the finger of blame solely at the Swede: ‘When we needed Winston Churchill, we got Iain Duncan Smith.’