End of an Era: Mario Zagallo, legend of Brazilian soccer, passed away

He will be remembered as the first player to win the World Cup as a player and then as a coach

by Sededin Dedovic
End of an Era: Mario Zagallo, legend of Brazilian soccer, passed away
© Clive Mason / Getty Images

The soccer world mourns the loss of Mario Zagallo, a legendary figure of Brazilian soccer, who died on Friday at the age of 92. Zagallo etched his name in history as the first player to achieve the remarkable feat of winning the World Cup as both a player and a coach, leaving an indelible mark on the sport.

Known as "The Professor", Zagallo played a key role in securing four out of five World Cup titles for the Brazilian national team. As a player, he became famous in 1958 in Sweden and 1962 in Chile, showing his skill and contributing to the success of the "Selecao".

Transitioning seamlessly from player to coach, Zagallo led Brazil to another historic triumph in 1970 in Mexico. After that, he played a key role as an assistant coach during Brazil's 1994 World Cup victory in the United States.

His coaching career also included a stint in Kuwait from 1976 to 1978 and later in 1989/90. in the United Arab Emirates.

Beckenbauer and Deschamps

The significance of Zagallo's achievement – winning the World Cup as both a player and coach – was matched only by Germany's Franz Beckenbauer and France's Didier Deschamps.

Beckenbauer achieved this feat in 1974 as a player and in 1990 as a coach, while Deschamps followed it up in 1998 as a player and in 2018 as a coach. Born on August 9, 1931 in Macei, Brazil, Zagallo began his soccer career in 1948 at Club America in Rio de Janeiro.

Over the years he played for renowned clubs such as Flamengo and Botafogo. His superstitions, such as his unwavering belief in the number 13, became part of his legendary persona. Zagall's coaching career included leading Brazil to their third World Cup title in 1970 and later assisting in their fourth triumph in 1994.

Despite a brief stint at the 1998 World Cup in France, where Brazil finished as runners-up, Zagall's impact on Brazilian soccer remains profound . His legacy lives on, with a statue in his honor adorning Rio's Nilton Santos Stadium.