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Author Archive for Brian Glanville

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Gordon Banks obituary

Supremely agile World Cup-winning England goalkeeper responsible for ‘the greatest save ever made’Gordon Banks, who has died aged 81, was the best goalkeeper England have ever had and is widely regarded as one of the finest to have played for any side …

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Arthur Turner obituary

Footballer who played for Charlton in an FA Cup final, but never played a game for them in the leagueThe footballer Arthur Turner, who has died aged 98, had the unusual distinction of appearing in an FA Cup final for his side without ever playing a gam…

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Dragoslav Šekularac obituary

Brilliant Serbian footballer who played for Red Star Belgrade and won 41 caps representing the former YugoslaviaThe sumptuous playmaking skills of the Serbian footballer Dragoslav Šekularac were so eye-catching during the early 1960s that Pelé once ask…

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Bill Slater obituary

A key player in the great 1950s Wolverhampton Wanderers side that won three league titles and an FA CupThe footballer Bill Slater, who has died aged 91, was a key member of the great Wolverhampton Wanderers side of the mid-to-late 1950s that won three …

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Sir Doug Ellis obituary

Former Aston Villa chairman known for his turbulent relations with the club’s managersSir Doug Ellis, who has died aged 94, made millions by selling package holidays and a national reputation with two spells as chairman of Aston Villa football club, wh…

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Jimmy McIlroy obituary

Elegant Burnley inside-forward who was a creative force in the remarkable Northern Ireland side of the 1950sThe footballer Jimmy McIlroy, who has died aged 86, was an elegant cornerstone of Burnley’s First Division title-winning side of the late 1950s …

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Roger Piantoni obituary

Footballer who was a pivotal member of the dynamic France team at the 1958 World CupThe footballer Roger Piantoni, who has died aged 86, was the fulcrum of the exciting France team that took third place in the Swedish World Cup of 1958. A highly accomp…

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Ray Wilson obituary

Pacy, mobile left-back who gave an extra attacking drive to the England World Cup-winning team of 1966Ray Wilson, who has died aged 83, had the lowest profile of any player in England’s 1966 World Cup final-winning team, and generally liked to keep it …

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Roy Bentley obituary

Innovative England centre-forward who was top scorer and captain when Chelsea won their first league title in 1955Roy Bentley, who has died aged 93, became the first deep-lying centre-forward in English football, in the style of the Hungarian Nándor Hi…

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Jimmy Armfield obituary

Blackpool and England footballer who was a member of the winning World Cup squad of 1966Around the time of the World Cup quarter-finals in 1966, the footballer Jimmy Armfield, who has died aged 82, was asked what chance he thought England had of winnin…

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Hans Schäfer obituary

Key member of West Germany’s first World Cup-winning side who went on to captain his country in the following two tournamentsThe footballer Hans Schäfer, who has died aged 90, played for West Germany in three World Cups – in 1954, 1958 and 1962 – earni…

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Jackie Sewell obituary

Footballer who commanded a world-record transfer fee in the 1950s

For four years in the 1950s, Jackie Sewell, who has died aged 89, was the most expensive footballer in Britain, having moved from his first league club, Notts County, to Sheffield Wednesday for a record £34,500 midway through the 1950-51 season.

A quick, clever and incisive inside-forward, Sewell scored half a dozen First Division goals in 10 games, which almost saved Wednesday from relegation; they eventually went down by the narrowest of margins, on goal average. The following season he scored 22 goals in 35 Second Division matches to bring them back up to the top flight, and his feats with Wednesday earned him his first England call-up, against Ireland in November 1951. The next summer he scored England’s first goal in a famous 3-2 friendly victory over Austria. Yet he would win only six international caps in all, and his misfortune was that two of them came against the brilliant Hungarians, who thrashed England 6-3 at Wembley in November 1953 and 7-1 in Budapest the following May. He was the last surviving member of the England team from the 1953 Hungary game.

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Cesare Maldini obituary

Italian footballer who managed the national side at the 1998 World Cup finals

To take over the managership of the Azzurri, the Italian national team, at a time of mid-season crisis, at the age of 66, to change its tactics, and to take it to London after a single friendly game, there to beat England at Wembley in a crucial World Cup qualification match in 1997, was a feat in itself. But Cesare Maldini, who has died aged 84, was also the father of one of the best players in that match, Paolo Maldini. The fact that Paolo went on to be a bigger star was consistent with Cesare’s record in encouraging footballing talent.

When the unpopular Arrigo Sacchi resigned as Italy manager midway through the 1996-97 season, Cesare Maldini was the only real candidate to succeed him: other possible names already held club posts at huge salaries. Immediately imposing a highly defensive catenaccio (door-bolt) system on the team, Maldini gambled boldly at Wembley, and won 1-0, a result that helped Italy qualify for the 1998 World Cup.

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Zito

Star midfielder in Brazil’s World Cup-winning sides of 1958 and 1962

The footballer Zito, who has died aged 82, was a hugely influential mainstay of the golden era Brazil sides that won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups, and a legend at his club Santos, in São Paolo, with whom he collected many championship and cup winners’ medals.

Zito made his debut for his country in 1955, but it was when he came into Brazil’s two-man midfield in their third game of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden that he made all the difference. Brazil had deployed an innovatory 4-2-4 system, which would subsequently sweep the footballing world, but there was a certain imbalance. Didi, one of their two midfielders, was the perfect, creative inside-forward, but his partner, Dino Sani, was a little too adventurous and a little too similar to be his partner. Zito, an organised right-half who could win the ball as well as use it, replaced Sani against the Soviet Union in Gothenburg and immediately tightened things up.

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Zito

Star midfielder in Brazil’s World Cup-winning sides of 1958 and 1962

The footballer Zito, who has died aged 82, was a hugely influential mainstay of the golden era Brazil sides that won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups, and a legend at his club Santos, in São Paolo, with whom he collected many championship and cup winners’ medals.

Zito made his debut for his country in 1955, but it was when he came into Brazil’s two-man midfield in their third game of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden that he made all the difference. Brazil had deployed an innovatory 4-2-4 system, which would subsequently sweep the footballing world, but there was a certain imbalance. Didi, one of their two midfielders, was the perfect, creative inside-forward, but his partner, Dino Sani, was a little too adventurous and a little too similar to be his partner. Zito, an organised right-half who could win the ball as well as use it, replaced Sani against the Soviet Union in Gothenburg and immediately tightened things up.

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Alex Forbes obituary

Scottish footballer who played for his country and made 240 appearances for Arsenal Continue reading…

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Alex Forbes obituary

Scottish footballer who played for his country and made 240 appearances for Arsenal Continue reading…

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Alfredo Di Stéfano obituary

Centre-forward of the all-conquering Real Madrid football team of the 1950s, which won five European Cups in a row Continue reading…

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Gyula Grosics obituary

Adventurous goalkeeper who played in three World Cups for Hungary’s ‘Mighty Magyars’ football team

Gyula Grosics, who has died aged 88, was the goalkeeper of the magnificent Hungarian team that won 6-3 at Wembley in November 1953, smashing England’s unbeaten record at home against foreign teams, then thrashed them 7-1 in Budapest the following May, but somehow failed to win the 1954 World Cup final against West Germany, in what came to be known as “the Miracle of Bern“.

Powerfully built, but lithe and flexible, Grosics was a key figure in Hungary’s “Mighty Magyars” squad from 1947 to 1962. He won 89 caps for his country and played in three World Cups. As a goalkeeper, he was ahead of his time, operating not only with athleticism and anticipation in the goal itself, but always ready to act as a kind of sweeper if his defence were breached, dashing well beyond his penalty area to kick the ball clear.

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Bellini obituary

Captain of the Brazilian team that won the 1958 World Cup

The footballer Bellini, alias Hilderaldo Luiz Bellini, who has died aged 83, was Brazil’s centre-half and captain when they first won the World Cup, in Sweden in 1958. A powerful, resolute and sometimes abrasive central marker, he was one of the key players in the four-in-a-line (or flat-back-four) defence that Brazil introduced at the tournament and that would go on to sweep the game after their triumph. In 1962 he was passed over for the team that contested and won the World Cup in Chile, his place going to Mauro; but he was centre-half in 1966, playing in the first two of Brazil’s three ill-fated games in England.

Bellini was born in the town of Itapira, in São Paulo state, and his first club was the local Itapira Atlético, followed by the São João da Boa Vista club, and Vasco da Gama in Rio de Janeiro, from 1952 until 1962. He then moved to São Paulo, and remained there until 1968.

“Being an easygoing sort of chap,” Bellini wrote, “I was perhaps not as ambitious as some.” He gained his first international recognition only at the relatively late age of 26, when he was chosen to be part of the squad for the South American Championship in Lima in 1957, though the centre-half role was filled by Edson. Bellini did not have to wait long to be capped, however. Hard on the heels of that tournament, Brazil played two World Cup qualifying games against Peru, and he was chosen for both of them. He did well enough not only to keep his place right through to the 1958 World Cup finals but to become captain. After victory in the final he was presented with the trophy on the pitch and lifted it triumphantly above his head – an unusual and expansive gesture for the times, and one that was to be much copied in subsequent years by other captains. A statue of Bellini in that pose was eventually erected in front of the Maracanã stadium in Rio.

“There was nothing extraordinary about our defensive methods,” he said about the team’s performance in Sweden. “I took it upon myself to tackle an opponent entering the defence from our right, a striker from the left being handled by Orlando.” Broadly speaking, Bellini was a dominant figure throughout the tournament, placing an emphasis on studying the opponents’ buildup from midfield and assessing where the thrust would come from.

He did have one fortunate moment during the goalless draw against England in the Ullevi stadium, Gothenburg, in Brazil’s second match. Derek Kevan, England’s centre-forward, was racing through when Bellini brought him down. There seemed good claims for a penalty, but the referee allowed play to go on.

He had stronger opposition to contend with when Brazil played France in Stockholm in the semi-final. The French players Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine had proved a devastating combination, with little Kopa making the bullets for the quick, strong, stocky Fontaine to fire. Bellini called him “the best getter of goals I saw in Sweden”.

Early in the game it seemed that Brazil would be in for a tormenting time, but an injury took the accomplished French centre-half, Robert Jonquet, off the pitch and the 10 French players eventually lost 5-2, with Pelé scoring a hat-trick. In the final, which Brazil also won 5-2, Agne Simonsson, Sweden’s centre-forward, did break through past Bellini for Sweden’s second goal but, by that time, Brazil had the match won.

In Chile four years later, Bellini was understudy to Mauro and did not get a game. Nevertheless, he felt that he made his contribution to Brazil’s success in training, tactical talks “and helping to stimulate and maintain the spirits of the party”.

In 1966 Brazil picked an older side, re-calling Bellini at the age of 36. He and the team survived their opening match against Bulgaria in Liverpool, winning 2-0. But in the second game Bellini and his fellow defenders could do little against the inspirational play of Hungary’s ubiquitous centre-forward, Flórián Albert. Bellini was dropped from the team, who also lost their third match, against Portugal, and were thus eliminated. He retired from football in 1969.

Bellini saw himself as a gentle giant, “a peaceful man off the field”. He went into business with his in-laws, opening a shop, “and in that role I look very little like a football player, particularly the hard, combative player I am said to be.” According to an interview in 2008 with Brasileiros magazine, he also trained as a lawyer, though he never practised. In recent years he had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

He is survived by his wife Giselda, whom he married in 1963, and their two children, Carla and Junior.

Bellini (Hilderaldo Luiz Bellini), footballer, born 7 June 1930; died 20 March 2014

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