Carlos Alberto, the revered captain of Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning side, considered one of the greatest of all time, died on Tuesday aged 72.
The right-back starred alongside Pele, Tostao, Jairzinho and Rivelino in the legendary Brazil team that beat Italy 4-1 in the 1970 final.
He scored one of the best World Cup goals in the Mexico City final, running onto a Pele pass and smashing in a thunderous right-footed shot.
“I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend and brother @capita70. Dear God, please take care of our ‘Capitao’ (captain). Rest In Peace,” said Pele in an emotionally-charged Twitter post alongside a black and white picture of Carlos Alberto comforting him as he cries.
Carlos Alberto died of a heart attack in Rio de Janeiro, according to Sportv, for whom he worked as a pundit. Tributes immediately poured in from around the world.
“An example of leadership both on and off the field, a great friend who always treated me with great affection,” said former Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain star Ronaldinho, a World Cup winner in 2002.
“Rest in peace eternal captain.”
Stars from the time such as Germany’s World Cup-winning captain and coach Franz Beckenbauer and clubs around the world from Manchester City and Arsenal in the Premier League to Brazil’s top sides all expressed sadness.
Beckenbauer said he was “profoundly shocked” by the news of the death of someone he described as “like a brother for me, one of my best friends”.
Born in Rio in 1944 “Capitao”, as he was known in Brazil, played alongside Pele at Santos from 1966 to 1974 and at the New York Cosmos from 1977 to 1980 after beginning his career with Fluminense.
“Santos mourns the death of idol Carlos Alberto Torres,” the Brazilian club said in a statement that decreed three days of mourning.
The Cosmos tweeted: “We’re deeply saddened by the loss of Carlos Alberto, a legendary player and wonderful person.”
“Goodbye, eternal captain,” said the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) in a statement, which announced the death with “great sadness”.
The CBF also joined the mourning and lowered flags at its headquarters in the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood of Rio.
– ‘Beautiful goal’ –
Carlos Alberto won more than 50 caps for his country — missing the ill-fated 1974 World Cup trophy defence due to injury — and was later named by FIFA in a list of the 100 greatest living players in 2004.
“He was my brother. More than a friend,” said Clodoaldo, a midfielder in the Brazil 1970 side who also starred for Santos.
“We spoke to each other all the time. When I heard the news, I was paralysed.”
Another team-mate from that 1970 side, Gerson, said it was the players who had chosen Carlos Alberto as their captain.
“He was hugely important for us, both on and off the pitch,” he said. “There will never be another leader like him.”
Carlos Alberto hung up his boots in 1982 and started his coaching career with Rio giants Flamengo, winning a Brazilian title before working in the United States, Colombia, Mexico, Oman and Azerbaijan.
After giving up coaching, Carlos Alberto became a television pundit for Sportv.
He was frequently asked about the World Cup final goal — the culmination of a sublime nine-pass move — which earned him a special FIFA trophy in 2006.
“I remember everything about that goal. We knew before the game it could happen because we knew how the Italian team played. They played man-to-man on the central line. They followed our forwards,” he said in 2006.
“We only realised how beautiful the goal was after the game.
“The emotion, of course, when I scored that goal was incredible, but after the game, and still today, I realise how beautiful and how important that goal was because everybody is still talking about it.”