A haul of 20 international caps might not seem like the stuff of legends. Vava, however, ensured that his Brazil career represented the ultimate example of quality over quantity.
Despite that fairly meagre tally of appearances, the Seleção striker helped himself to nine FIFA World Cup goals and, more importantly, two winner’s medals. He had already pocketed one of those by the time this image was captured, having helped Brazil lift the Trophy for the first time in 1958 – most notably by scoring twice in the Final.
Vava would, in fact, go on to become the first player to find the net in two World Cup Finals when he claimed the clincher in the 3-1 1962 victory over Czechoslovakia – a feat that only Pele, Paul Breitner and Zinedine Zidane have subsequently matched.
This photograph, though, shows him scoring in the previous game: a thrilling semi-final against Chile. Brazil had taken a two-goal lead thanks to the irrepressible Garrincha, but the hosts – roared on by a partisan 77,000 Santiago crowd – succeeded in halving the deficit just before half-time with a wonderful Jorge Toro free-kick.
The next goal was therefore vital and Vava ensured that Brazil claimed it, rising highest at a corner to send a powerful downward header beyond Misael Escuti in the Chile goal. In the moment captured above, he is seen on the ground, looking up hopefully as the ball sneaks past Escuti’s despairing grasp. And, typically of Vava, he would go on to claim another World Cup goal later in the same match to secure a 4-2 victory, setting up that Czech showdown and dashing the hosts’ hopes of a maiden triumph.
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.
— FIFA Museum (@FIFAMuseum) 17. März 2016