Flamengo: Winning All The Cups by Stephen Brandt – Review

Flamengo – Winning All the Cups by Stephen Brandt - Review

By Karl Hornsey

Given my mini-obsession regarding anything to do with the Brazilian team that so memorably graced the 1982 World Cup, this book about the Flamengo side that provided several of the players was always likely to catch my eye. Stephen Brandt is a writer who specialises in getting into the fine detail of his subject, writing about football all across the globe, and his passion for this team and the club’s history shines through on every page.

Flamengo are probably the most famous of Brazilian clubs and, as this book explains, they’ve seen a veritable Who’s Who of Brazilian football either come through their ranks or play for them later in their career, making any book about them one of interest. Brandt is at his best delving into their history, how their rivalries with the other Rio clubs developed and their part in the social fabric of a fascinating country. He also brings that history right up to the present day, as the club regained some of its former glories, while battling the effects of a global pandemic that was to put the sport on hold across the world.

But for me, the main appeal of this book was about the Flamengo of the early 1980s, the one that, as the title states, ‘won all the cups’. That’s the Flamengo I vaguely remember from childhood, or at least some of names involved, and especially from when they made the world sit up and take notice by thrashing Liverpool to win the Intercontinental Cup in 1981.

Flamengo – Winning All the Cups by Stephen Brandt - Review

“Exotic feel”

In an era when televised football was still a novelty rather than the norm, the trophy had something of an exotic feel to it, as the best of Europe took on the best of South America in a fixture that had often been marked down by controversy and sheer brutality down the years. The aura of the likes of Zico, Junior and Leandro and how they took apart the English champions was what I wanted to read about, and it’s what the book clearly promises from the blurb and the jacket design. And it does deliver – in part.

There are chapters dedicated to the build-up to that match, largely focusing on Liverpool and the state of the sport in this country during the 1980s, when hooliganism and disasters seemed to dominate the headlines, and even on how the government of the time seemed hellbent on making life as difficult as possible for the majority of decent, law-abiding supporters, but there’s very little about the match itself and the action on the field, which is something of a disappointment.

For all the build-up as to how Flamengo progressed and were going through the most successful period in the club’s history, I expected more on how they wiped the floor with one of the most revered teams in football, and was left disappointed. That said, this is well worth a read for anyone with even a passing history in Brazilian football or specifically of Flamengo itself, well researched and told with genuine passion.

‘Flamengo: Winning All The Cups’ by Stephen Brandt is published by Pitch Publishing


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