Lula declares national mourning for Brazil football great Zagallo
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declared three days of national mourning on Saturday for four-time World Cup-winning football legend Mario Zagallo, a day after his death at age 92.
Zagallo, who played alongside Pele on Brazil’s 1958 and 1962 World Cup-winning teams and later won the trophy as a coach, died Friday of multiple organ failure, said the Barra D’Or hospital in Rio de Janeiro where he had been treated for a series of health problems in recent months.
Lula led a flood of tributes to the man known as the Old Wolf who coached Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winning side starring Pele — considered by many the greatest team in history — and served as assistant coach when the “Selecao” repeated the feat in 1994.
“He was one of the greatest football players and coaches of all time,” Lula said in a statement.
“Courageous, passionate… [he] leaves a lesson of love, dedication, and the will to overcome for our country — and for world football.”
Messages also poured in from around the football world.
“Zagallo’s influence on football, and Brazilian football in particular, is supreme,” said Fifa chief Gianni Infantino.
Infantino called the diminutive left winger a “tactical genius”, underlining his role in four of football powerhouse Brazil’s five World Cup titles — more than anyone in history.
“He will be remembered as the Godfather of Brazilian football and his presence will be sorely missed… The story of the Fifa World Cup cannot be told without Mario Zagallo,” Infantino said.
The only other men to win the World Cup as both player and coach are Franz Beckenbauer of Germany (1974 and 1990), and Didier Deschamps of France (1998 and 2018).