Zagallo was a revolutionary coach for his time, as he thought about the game in a strategic way, like today’s great coaches.
When he took over the Brazilian team in 1970, close to the World Cup, he said that the midfield had to be filled out more, with three players, as modern coaches do. Therefore, he replaced Edu, who was an aggressive winger, with Rivellino, a midfielder.
Zagallo also realized, like current coaches, that defenders were not just for scoring and moved midfielder Piazza to the defense, from where he began setting up plays with a good pass.
He wasn’t always right, but he had the lucidity to change when he realized it was necessary.
He took over the selection and on the first day he said that the team needed a classic center forward, top scorer. Over time, training and games, he changed his mind and chose me as a center forward.
He told me very close to the World Cup: “You will be the starter, but I don’t want you to play deep like you did at Cruzeiro, I want you ahead of Pelé and Jairzinho.” He asked me: “Can you play like that?” I replied, “No problem.” I became a center forward, like Evaldo at Cruzeiro.
Zagallo was a coach ahead of his time. He did tactical training daily for defense and attack. The 1970 team was spectacular because it united the collective with the individual, as the best teams in the world are today.
Thank you, Zagallo, for the great contribution you made to Brazilian and world football. You will always be among the greatest coaches in history.
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