Brazil great Pele has paid a warm tribute to his captain and team-mate Carlos Alberto, who died of a heart attack at the age of 72 in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday.
Pele’s reputation as the greatest footballer of all time owes much to some defining performances in his and Brazil’s third World Cup triumph at Mexico 1970, where the team was captained by Carlos Alberto.
Widely regarded as one of the finest right-backs to play the game, the skipper sealed a 4-1 final win over Italy at Estadio Azteca with a thunderous finish on the end of a deft Pele pass before lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy.
Pele and Carlos Alberto also played together for Santos in their homeland and New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League.
“I am saddened by the death of my friend and brother Carlos Alberto, our dear ‘Capita’,” Pele said in a statement.
“I remember the times we were together in Santos, the Brazilian national team and the Cosmos, forming a winning partnership.
“We were champions for Santos, the Selecao and the Cosmos. Unfortunately we have to understand this and that life goes on. To his family I send my condolences.”
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) joined Santos in declaring three days of mourning in tribute to Carlos Alberto’s passing.
“With a heavy heart, the CBF regrets that the world of football had been surprised this Tuesday by the passing of Carlos Alberto Torres,” read a statement from the organisation.
“A legend for the Brazilian national team, the captain of the third World Cup title in 1970 died in Rio de Janeiro, a heart-attack victim.
“The CBF president, Marco Polo del Nero, has declared three days of mourning. Flags at the CBF will be at half-mast. All games in competitions organised by the CBF will have a minute of silence.”
In a statement released to Omnisport, the Cosmos said: “The New York Cosmos is deeply saddened by the loss of Carlos Alberto, a legendary player and a wonderful person.
“We are truly honoured to say that he played for the New York Cosmos and he will always remain part of the Cosmos family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.
Brazilian president Michel Temer tweeted to hail Carlos Alberto as “an example of determination and leadership”.
Carlos Alberto Parreira was Brazil coach for their fourth World Cup triumph in 1994 and was a member of the backroom staff for Mexico 1970.
The 73-year-old fondly recalled Carlos Alberto’s cool confidence ahead of the final.
“We left for the World Cup final against Italy, it was 10am. He saw me with a worried face and said, ‘Boy, you are concerned about what?’,” he said, as quoted by Gazeta Press.
“I said I was afraid of that great Italian team. And he said, confidently, ‘Don’t worry, with this team that we have, we will win easy’.
“It was five months of work, coexistence, and he was a leader alongside with Pele and Gerson. We did not reach the final only winning on the field but also off the field, thanks to Carlos Alberto.
“This leadership came from his ability to be articulate, the posture he had off the field and his technical quality.”
Parreira added: “No doubt, Carlos Alberto was one of the greatest right-backs in football history and he led all teams that he worked for.
“He coached, was Brazilian champion as a coach, and was a commentator. He will leave a very big absence because of everything he represented. He had personality and was not ashamed to talk about his ideas.”