World Cup 1970
Teams in qualifiers 75
Number of matches 32
Notable absentees Argentina, France, Portugal, Spain
Surprises Morocco, the first African qualifiers since World War II
Golden Boot Gerd Muller (Germany) - 10
A total of 95 goals were scored (2.97 per match), including five penalties and one own goal; Brazil (19) scored the most; 54 individual players scored, while Pelé and Uwe Seeler scored in their fourth World Cup tournament
Four groups of four in the qualifying stage, with the top two from each group into the quarter-finals
• This was the first World Cup hosted in North America, and the first held outside South America and Europe
• It was the first to be televised in colour
• Substitutes were allowed for the first time (two per team)
• Red and yellow cards were introduced, although no player was sent off during the tournament
• Fair Play Award introduced
• Teams level on points at the end of the group stage were separated by goal difference (replacing play-offs and goal average).
• Before the event, England's captain, Bobby Moore, was arrested and held in Colombia on charges of theft. He was released on the eve of the competition after England had travelled on without him
• To fit in with European viewing schedules, some matches kicked off at noon. This was unpopular with many players and managers because of the intense heat in Mexico at that time of day
• On the eve of the England-Brazil match, Brazilian fans gathered outside the England hotel and chanted and sang all night in a deliberate bid to disrupt the team's sleep.
• Zambia and Sudan both won 4-2 at home in their qualifying play-off matches. Sudan went through because of a quickly-scrapped rule that the team scoring more goals in the second match would win. However, they finished bottom of their final qualification group and did not reach the finals
• Rioting marred qualifying matches between El Salvador and neighbours Honduras, and in July 1969 war broke out between the two in what historians dubbed "The War of Soccer"
• Brazilian Mário Zagallo became the first man to win the tournament as a player (1958) and coach.
• Pelé became the first man to play in three World Cup-winning teams
• During the post-final celebrations, the lid of the trophy went missing. Brazilian reserve Davio retrieved it from a young spectator at the stadium exit.
As with 1966, images of this tournament remain at the forefront of the football fan's memory. This was the first tournament to be televised in colour and the football played was similarly vivid. It is remembered as Brazil's finest and defining hour.
Germany, exhausted by their efforts in Leon, now faced Italy, then fully in the bloom of the catenaccio era. But when Karl Schellinger cancelled out a Roberto Boninsegna goal in the very last minute, luck looked to be with the Germans. However, Beckenbauer injured his shoulder and, though he played on with one arm in a sling, the Italians won out. The score changed no less than five times in extra-time before Gianni Rivera, the golden boy of Italian football, scored a 112th-minute winner.
The superhuman efforts in the last four perhaps did for Italy as Brazil overpowered them in the final. Pelé pulled the strings for the South Americans as first he leapt, in the proverbial fashion of a salmon, to head in a Rivelino cross on 19 minutes. Italy got back in the game when Boninsegna seized on a mistake from Clodoaldo to beat keeper and sometime clown Felix, and the crowd, almost all of them cheering for the Brazilians, began to worry. But up stepped chain-smoking midfielder Gérson to clatter in a goal from the edge of the penalty area.
Twenty minutes from the end, Pelé headed a Gérson cross back for Jairzinho to bundle in and complete his record of having scored in every game. But the coup de grâce was added in the very last minute as Brazil took the ball the length of the field to score the fourth. Clodoaldo, rejuvenated after his early mistake, beat a couple of players and the ball reached Pelé. He, as ever, used his vision to play in Carlos Alberto, whose low drive drilled past Albertosi into the Italian goal. As a sign off for a great side, it has never been surpassed, just as the Brazilian team of 1970 is unlikely to ever be surpassed.
For their three wins in 12 years, the Jules Rimet Trophy that Carlos Alberto lifted was to remain in Brazil permanently. Or, at least, until it was stolen in 1983 from the Brazilian Confederation HQ in 1983.