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Saldanha, 1961: The three greats

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-12-16 03:11:40

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
— João Saldanha | 06/02/1961 —

Among the stars of Real Madrid, for me, Puskás stands out. I would even say, frankly, that among the stars of international football of all time, three are different. In alphabetical order: Garrincha, Pelé and Puskás.
There are naturally names like Di Stéfano, Didi, Zizinho, Nilton Santos, Djalma Santos, Moreno, Sastre, Leônidas da Silva, and few others. But those three form a group apart. At a level never achieved.
Garrincha has already been talked about too much. One just can't mark him, he always needs cover. And sometimes two more. The opposing crowd gets to be satisfied — even if they lose the game — if they manage to leave the stadium exclaiming: "Yeah... but HE didn't play".
I still have the telegram from Real Madrid that intended to condition the acquisition of Didi for more money, if Botafogo agreed to sell Garrincha, even if it was the following year.
Of Pelé, suffice it to say that if here at the newspaper we formed a team and could include him, even with Geraldo Escobar in goal, we would easily get 5 thousand dollars per exhibition in Europe or anywhere else. But, on the other hand, the entire Santos team without Pelé would hardly get more than 2,000.
Puskás is another. I watched Puskás in three different stages. In 1952, in Hungary, I saw this amazing player being the basic point of all the plays of his team and that famous selection that was already starting to train for 1954, at that time.
Márton Bukovi and Jenő Csaknády, two famous Hungarian coaches, wrote a book called "The Hungarian way of playing football". But when Ferenc Puskás left Magyar football, the book lost its value. Without Puskás, the Hungarian system did not prove to be superior to any of the others.
In the middle of 1959, when we were with Botafogo in Spain and we played against Atlético Madrid, this team presented itself with almost the same structure that they had recently, and Puskás. Well then, although Atlético wasn't doing very well, and the match was relatively easy for us, we only managed to win by 6:4, when that miserable guy left the field. We went there and scored a goal and Puskás came setting up and building everything and it was a tie. Fortunately the miserable left when the score was 4:4.
It's almost impossible to see him play badly and the day after tomorrow this will happen again.