A tribute to the old wolf

Brazilian legend Zagallo dies at age 92
Brazilian National Archives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On January 5, 2024, football lost one of its most iconic figures. We’re here to mourn and remember Mario Zagallo, better known as the “Old Wolf,” who passed away this Friday at the age of 92.

Mario will be remembered not just as a great player or a revolutionary coach but as a phenomenal human being.

Zagallo was a visionary who reshaped the beautiful game, leaving behind a legacy that will live on forever.

From his humble hometown of Maceió to the world’s biggest stage, Zagallo’s odyssey was marked by numerous successes and unmatched achievements. His career as a player began at small teams like América and Flamengo, where he laid the foundation for what was to come, but it was at Botafogo where his career took off.

 In the golden era of Botafogo, Zagallo’s tactical intelligence and on-field prowess played a pivotal role in the club’s successes. Playing beside legends such as Garrincha and Didi he cemented himself as a club legend. 

Mario Zagallo’s most fascinating achievement is that he is the only individual to have won four FIFA World Cups.

As a player, Zagallo contributed to Brazil‘s triumphs in the 1958 and 1962 tournaments. These championships marked the nation’s arrival onto the scene as a footballing powerhouse.

 Zagallo’s transition from a celebrated player to a revolutionary coach saw him continue his successful career, leading Brazil to victory in the 1970 World Cup. Under his leadership, Brazil presented a style of play that was both beautiful and effective. Brazil’s 1970 world champion team which featured the likes of Pelé, Jairzino, and Carlos Alberto is considered by many to be the best team in history.

He then added a fourth world title to his legacy as an assistant coach in the 1994 World Cup. 

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  • Mbarzellai, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

  • Brazilian National Archives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Sergio Savarese from Sao Paulo City / Ipiranga, Brasil, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

  • Rob Mieremet / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr, CC BY 3.0 BR , via Wikimedia Commons

  • Scanpix, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Beatriz Lorena Mallet, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

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Beyond his tactical genius and footballing achievements, Zagallo was a man of character. His passion for the game and his love for his country was remarkable, his superstitious nature charming, and his outspoken confidence was inspiring.

Zagallo’s influence extended beyond the confines of the pitch. He was a cultural icon, a mentor to generations of players and coaches, and an innovator who will leave a wolf-sized mark on the sport. 

 His legacy is not just in the records he set or the trophies he won but in the way he transformed football, infusing it with a blend of tactical brilliance and Brazilian flair. 

Beyond everything that can be said Zagalllo was a man of honor, more than just a football legend he was a personification of the spirit of his country. Those near him say he was a dedicated family man, a good father, and a loyal friend. His story is of a hard-working man who set out to change the world and put his country on the map.

Mario Zagallo may have left us, but his legacy will live forever in the hearts of those who love the beauty of the game. Rest in peace, Old Wolf, your story will continue to inspire and awe generations to come.

Mieremet, Rob / Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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