The Golden Age of Brazilian Football from Romario to Neymar

Sammy BalContributor IIMay 29, 2011

Romario - The Start of the Golden Age
Romario - The Start of the Golden Age

It is indeed hard to see history when one is actually living it. 

We all know the stories of the great legends like Garrincha and Pele. Those mind-boggling black-and-white clips, the astronomic stats and all the larger-than-life, behind-the-scenes, tales of overcoming the odds and gaining ultimate glory.

The spectacular Pele generation—the football world was never the same before it and would remain forever changed after it. The birth of the beautiful game.

However, upon closer examination, other sobering realities appear.

The truth is that Pele was injured in 1962 and Garrincha had to single-handedly carry Brazil to a struggling-at-times title. Garrincha could very well be the greatest player ever to kick a football, were it not for his genius, Mozart-like behavior and wild habits but...

In 1966, Brazil lost, and in 1970, a fantastic team with glorious football put Brazil back on the winning track. But then, that was it, as far as world titles for Brazil went.

For the next two decades and then some, Brazil would struggle for top honors apart from some dotted club world titles in the shape of Intercontinental Cups.

Something that not many ordinary football fans may be aware of is that during the entire much-acclaimed Pele glory period, Brazil did not win a single Copa America. In South America, Brazil suffered successive defeats from 1949-1989. 

Ronaldinho Gaucho
Ronaldinho Gaucho

In other words, neither Pele, the sublime talents of Mane Garrincha, nor the goal-scoring prowess of Jairzinho were ever good enough to win in South America for some 40 years.  

Then, in 1989, came a little fella called Romario. 

Romario would lift his first trophy in 1989 for Brazil, winning the Copa America and breaking a 40-year drought. 

He would then go on to win the ultimate prize in world football in 1994, lifting high the World Cup, breaking a 24-year drought and starting a reign of Brazilian supremacy till present date. 

Romario would put clubs like PSV and Barcelona in the limelight as he twisted and turned European defenders during his reign of terror both for club and country. 

Following him would be Ronaldo who also won his first World Cup in 1994 and also went on to terrorize European club defenses and win a long list of honors including becoming the highest World Cup scorer ever.

Then, without a brake for the world, Ronaldinho Gaucho and Rivaldo were thrown out there to win every title in existence.

They were followed by lighter top-notch stock the likes of Robinho and Kaka, who are also world-title winners for club and country.

All in all, Brazil's golden age is an impressive sequence of international tournament victories seemingly without end:

1994 World Cup, 1997 Copa America and Confederations Cup, 1999 Copa America, 2000 Club WC, 2002 World Cup, 2004 Copa America, 2005 Confederations Cup and Club WC, 2006 Club WC, 2007 Copa America, 2009 Confederations Cup.

True enough that, within this Brazilian Golden age, we have Italy and France who managed to win a World Cup each only to fizzle afterwards and the current champions Spain whose fans might be a bit ruffled by any claims of current Brazilian supremacy.

So in fairness, let's have a look at the Spanish run in the last decades. I will omit talking about France or Italy because I assume everyone watched South Africa 2010, and well, nothing else need be said.

2008 UEFA Euro Cup, 2009 Club WC, 2010 World Cup: That aforementioned stats which occupy less than half a line echo Spain's performance from 1994 to the present date.  

Clearly, there is no comparison between Brazil's Golden Age of football and Spain's little sparkles of glory. Spain may indeed go on to win another Euro Cup adding meat to their CV.

In the end, however, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single betting site which gives them a flicker of a hope of winning either the upcoming Confederation's Cup or World Cup in Brazil. In the home of the beautiful game, all odds will lean towards the host...and wisely so.

In 2013 and 2014, Neymar, Ganso and Lucas promise to be the new faces of world football and complete the third decade of the Brazilian Golden Age.