Brazil 1970: How the Greatest Team of All Time Won the World Cup by Sam Kunti – Review
By Karl Hornsey
Soccer journalist Sam Kunti nails his colours to the mast with the title of this book, which details the inside story of how the much-loved the Brazilian side won the 1970 World Cup. To describe them as the greatest team of all time demonstrates the love and affection that not only Kunti, but millions of others feel for the side that captured the imagination more than 50 years ago. Circumstances have helped Brazil become so fondly remembered, with the first World Cup to be televised in glorious colour bringing the game to life that bit more, and of course any side that included the likes of Rivellino, Gerson, Jairzinho and Pele could hardly fail to be loved even to this day.
Kunti has travelled extensively to put this book together, which has helped him really get under the skin of the squad, of how it built through periods of turbulence to become so revered, with interviews with the likes of Carlos Alberto, Tostao and Jairzinho, who also provides the foreword, adding a huge amount to the book’s relevance and impact. The author also starts his story seven years before the World Cup in question, and follows the players through to 1974 when they relinquished the crown they so memorably claimed in the heat of the Mexican sun. This gives a great background to events, explains how such seemingly perfect moments can often come together by pure chance or the misfortune of others, and puts the triumph into a wider social context that is invaluable.
While the fact that this was never intended to be a blow-by-blow account of what happened during the finals in Mexico, I was surprised by the balance of the book once the tournament gets under way. Yes, the story of one of the most famous World Cups of all time has been told before, but to devote a lot of pages to the victory over England, and some to the semi-final win against Uruguay and the glorious, life-changing second-half destruction of Italy in the final, yet barely mention the other matches against Romania, Czechoslovakia and Peru seems remiss. This team only played six games, so to gloss over three of them loses the opportunity to really dive deeply into how they grew into the tournament.
That said, this is still a hugely enjoyable read that can be devoured in next to no time, taking the reader back to a time when football seemed on the cusp of something incredible, yet ultimately looks to have been a turning point in the sport before it became ultra professional and driven by money and self-interest. For anyone with a passion for the beautiful game, in Brazilian football or in a squad that will never be forgotten, Kunti has put together a valuable addition to the canon and one that’s well worth a read.
‘Brazil 1970: How the Greatest Team of All Time Won the World Cup’ by Sam Kunti is published by Pitch Publishing