There was plenty at stake in the 1970 final. Both Brazil and Italy had won the World Cup twice and the winner in Mexico would be able to take the trophy home to keep. It was also the ultimate showdown between Brazil’s cavalier attacking game and Italy’s stern defensive quality, a style later known by the term catenaccio (bolt the door). For an hour, the teams appeared closely matched: Brazil’s peerless Pelé opened the scoring in the first half but that lead was canceled out by Roberto Boninsegna’s strike just before the break.
With 25 minutes remaining, Brazil produced one of the most memorable spells of attacking soccer in the history of the game. First Gerson and then Jairzinho scored to put the game beyond Italy’s reach. All that was left was for a sublime fourth to be scored by captain Carlos Alberto. He was one of eight outfield players involved in a move that traversed the length of the field. Pelé — who else? — provided the assist for his captain and the Azurri had been soundly defeated. Coach Mario Zagallo not only had the satisfaction of masterminding his side’s stylish victory, he was also the first person to win the World Cup as both a player and a coach.