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The author, playwright and sports journalists, Nelso Rodriguez, once said: “The ball is a miserable, small and ridiculous detail. What we look for in football is drama, tragedy, horror and compassion.” Echoing these words is the legendary FC Barcelona, Flamengo and Brazil man Evaristo de Macedo.
One of Barça’s most legendary Brazilian players, who recently turned 81, hosted an fcbarcelona.com.br journalists in his Rio de Janerio home to talk about the infamous 1950 Maracanazo.
FCB - You were at the Maracaná on that tragic day for Brazilian football. I would like you to tell us your story…
Evaristo - I was almost 17 years old. I was just starting my career and I played for Madureira’s juvenil team. I loved football my entire life, so did my parents, my uncles… Therefore, we watch every single game played in Rio in that World Cup. We saw Brazil’s 6-1 win over Spain and we watched the final. Obviously the end result wasn’t expected and it was a great disappointment.
FCB - Do you think this group of Brazilian players can dispel the Maracaná ghosts that haunt the five-time World Cup champions?
Evaristo - I think so. We have a historic opportunity. If we win here, in the same stadium, that memory [from 1950] could be forgotten forever. If we don’t win, the legacy will continue. It will be a memory that can’t be forgotten. Football is a curious, defeats are usually forgotten over time. In fact, we lost the World Cup in 1998, and we were eliminated in 1982; we had fantastic teams on both occasions. But we never talk about those tournaments. We’ve also won five World Cups, and these titles don’t erase that fateful defeat. Therefore, we have to win here, at the Maracaná.
FCB - You made your debut for FC Barcelona 57 years ago. It’s a testament to your dedication to the Club that you’re still loved in Catalonia. What’s your best memory from your time at Barça? The goals, the titles…
Evaristo - None of that. My best memory is living with the Catalan people. They treated me fantastically, it was extraordinary. I was always very well received. Of course, I was also a good player for the Club. For example, of all the Brazilians that played for Barça, I’m currently the highest goalscorer. That will always be remembered.
FCB - Do you keep in touch with any former Barça teammates?
Evaristo - We had a fantastic atmosphere in the dressing room when I was there. We were all friends. I still have a relationship with Tejada (forward) and ‘The Gallego’ Luis Suárez (the only Spaniard to win the Ballon d’Or). I was also good friends with Garcia (defender) and Ramallets (legendary Barça keeper, who passed away last year), among others. In fact, we never had any fights and there weren’t any egos. Kubala, who was the big star, had his group of friends, but he was calm and he had no vanity.
FCB - What’s your take on the current remodeling of Barça’s squad?
Evaristo - No one is eternal, and a footballer’s career is short. This is normal. I think it’s time to keep some of the more experienced players but also bring in young talent. I don’t know if they should look to the youth team, but it’s clear that a remodeling is necessary. Barça will continue to win titles if they do this. The mixture of experience and youthful strength is fundamental in football. But any changes need to be deliberate and well thought out.
FCB - Barça are the most represented team in the World Cup. Does that surprise you?
Evaristo - Not at all. Barça have world class players and a fantastic youth system. Even when I was there Barcelona had a great youth team.
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