The legacy of Bebeto’s World Cup celebration

By Peter Reilly Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/18 17:48:40

Bebeto (right) performs his famous goal celebration with Marta. Photo: VCG

It was the USA 1994 FIFA World Cup, and July 7 in Dallas. The city's Cotton Bowl stadium was the stage for the quarterfinal between the Netherlands and Brazil.

One team had never won it and the team who had won the tournament more than any other had waited 24 years since their last. The sides had not met in the World Cup since 1974.

The pressure was on and much of it was on the Brazilian strike pairing of Romario and Bebeto. Before the tournament Romario had said he refused to sit next to Bebeto on the flight out, this a player he had already given the nickname "crybaby."

It would be apt come that afternoon in Dallas but for once Romario was on his best behavior and was dovetailing nicely with Bebeto at that tournament - the pair had been responsible for five of Brazil's seven goals so far.

The first half was a dull encounter but the few bright sparks came from Romario and Bebeto, and the duo soon got going in the second half. Bebeto laid on the opener for Romario to steer past Netherlands keeper Ed de Goey and soon it was his turn to score.

Dutch defenders misjudged where Romario was a ball was headed back deep into their half from a De Goey goal kick and quick as a flash Bebeto was on to it. 

As the Netherlands players looked to the linesman for respite he poked it past last man Jan Wouters, rounded De Goey and passed into the empty Dutch goal.

What happened next is an iconic moment of World Cup history, overshadowing the rest of the game - it finished 3-2 Brazil after Branco netted the winner - and even Brazil winning the World Cup for the first time since 1970, in the same year national hero Ayrton Senna had died.

After Bebeto scored he raced to the corner flag - and TV cameras - to be joined by Romario and midfielder Mazinho. The trio pretended to cradle babies and swang their arms in unison in honor of Bebeto's most recent arrival Mateus back in Brazil.

World craze

It is a celebration that has been copied the world over but never as unexpectedly as in Dallas.

So what happened to the trio?

Romario spent another season at Barcelona before returning to Brazil with Flamengo. 

A brief return to Spain with Valencia beckoned but the next few years were spent at several Brazilian clubs, including Vasco da Gama where he and Edmundo - another strike partner that he had fallen out with - destroyed Manchester United in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2000.

The striker scored more than 1,000 goals before retiring, including at Miami FC, Adelaide United and Al Sadd, before entering politics. He joined the Brazilian lower house in 2010 and is now a senator.

Funnily enough, Bebeto also went into politics and is in the Rio state legislature, where he has been elected since 2010. 

He had hung up his boots eight years before at Al-Ittihad, where he had reached via Japan, Mexico and several clubs in Brazil after leaving Deportivo La Coruna in 1996. He almost added Scotland to the list but refused to prove his fitness to St Mirren.

As for Mazinho, the fullback turned midfielder played the last of his 35 games for Brazil in 1994 and left Palmeiras to return to Europe to play first for Valencia, then Celta Vigo and finally Elche in Spain before returning home with Vitoria. Mazinho later coached Greek side Aris.

So what of Mateus, Bebeto's third child, who was celebrated along with the goal in the Cotton Bowl?

He also became a professional footballer. Mateus came through the ranks at Rio side Flamengo where he spent three seasons in the first team squad before being loaned to Portuguese top flight side Estoril. The attacking midfielder impressed on loan, earning a permanent move to the side for the 2016-17 season.

Mattheus caught the eye of one of the biggest clubs in Portugal and was signed by Sporting Lisbon a year later, though he has been on loan at Vitoria de Guimares.

Romario's son Romarinho also became a footballer but has not hit the heights. His career highlight was two substitute appearances for Vasco da Gama in the Brazilian top flight in 2015 before a journeyman career around the lower leagues - and a brief trip to play in Japan's second tier.

Lasting legacy

While Bebeto and Romario dominated the headlines as players, it is Mazinho whose legacy has been the more lasting. He is the father of Thiago Alcantara and Rafinha.

Thiago, the elder of the two at 29, has just won the German Bundesliga with Bayern Munich for the seventh consecutive time to add to the two La Liga titles and UEFA Champions League he won under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, where he came through the youth team.  

Guardiola took him to Munich. "I spoke to the club and told them about my concept and told them why I want Thiago. He is the only player that I want. It will be him or no one," he said of the move. Despite being born in Brazil he has played for Spain since 2011.

Rafinha, who now plays at Celta Vigo in Spain, elected to play for Brazil over Spain, even though he played for both at age-group levels.

The 27-year-old may have made the right choice, winning Olympic gold in Rio at the 2016 Summer Games.

At club level he hit the heights with his brother at Barcelona where he won three La Liga titles, five Copa del Rey wins and a UEFA Champions League. 

Rafinha moved to Celta for the 2013-14 season and rejoined them again on loan at the start of this season, while still contracted to Barcelona.

The image of their father along with Bebeto and Ronaldo celebrating the joy of childbirth is quite the moment in history considering what came from their children.
Newspaper headline: The Boys from Brazil


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