Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Forgotten Player: Julinho

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index
Argentina World Cup 1958

Julinho was one of the greatest right wing ever lived, but people tended to forget about him.  Perhaps, he played for Brazil in the WC in 1954.  He was Brazil's best player at the tournament. Sandwiched between the ill-fated 1950 WC Finals and the WC-winning Finals in 1958, the WC Finals in 1954 was not a big topic in Brazil.  Brazil's participation at the 1954 World Cup Finals was probably remembered for the game they lost to Hungary.  Three players were sent off during the game and players continued to fight in the locker rooms afterward. The game infamously became known as the Battle of Berne, a game that Brazilian fans wanted to forget.

Julinho started his career with Clube Atlético Juventus, but he never made it there.  He moved to Portuguesa half a season later. He made his debut against Flamengo at the Maracana, on February 18, 1950. Because of the tragic World Cup Finals in 1950, Brazil rebuilt their national team.  They did not play a international match for nearly two years.  On November, 1951, against Corinthians he scored 4 goals. His performance earned him  place on the new national team.  He made his national debut 6 months later when Brazil returned to the international scene and beat Mexico 2-0.  Julinho made his Brazil's debut.  

After he made his name at the World Cup Finals, he moved to Fiorentina in 1955.  In his first season, Fiorentina won the scudetti, and then, reched the European Cup Final the following season. He woud become one of Fiorentina's greatest players in history.

In 1950's, most South American national teams did not select their foreign-based players.  However, Brazil asked Julinho to return to the national team for the WC Finals in 1958.  They even suggested that he would meet them in Europe after they arrived for the WC Finals.  However, Julinho did not want to take a spot of a regular player who fought the World Cup Qualifiers and the buildup.  He turned it down.  If he had taken the spot, Brazil would have dropped Garrincha, who was the backup right wing leading up to the WC Finals.  Instead, Brazil met Fiorentina for a pre-tournament friendly match. It was an emotionl match as Julinho faced his national team.  He wept during the game.

In 1958, he returned to Brazil and was recalled back to the national team for a match vs England in May, 1959.  England, in 1959, still commanded respect in Brazil.  Every Brazilian fans expected the new national hero Garrincha to start the game.  However, Garrincha was unfit and Julinho start the game.  When the starting lineup was announced at the Maracana, the fans turned against Julinho.  the jeers got louder and louder as the game approached.  Julinho would weep for the second time in a national team match.  But as soon as the match started, Julinho showed the fans what he was capable of.  He danced through the English defenders.  The jeers became cheers.  At the end of the match, he would score one goal and assist another as Brazil beat England 2-0.  He had won over the fans again.

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