Barbosa can finally rest in peace
"As a Brazilian, I wanted them to win. After I saw the backlash though, I was happy. Losing was a good thing for the memory of my father. They lost in 1950, but they didn't lose 7-1. They were runners-up; this time they didn't even get that far. My father was very proud to be a World Cup runner-up. We didn't have televisions back in 1950, but it was still a worldwide embarrassment. The 1950 World Cup didn't even come close to this. It was a walk in the park. We were runners-up. What are we now? At least now they'll put Barbosa in his rightful place".
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The story above belongs to Tereza Borba, 53 years of age, and the adopted daughter of Moacir Barbosa Nascimento: Six-time Rio State champion with Vasco. Winner of South American Championship of Champions. Add a Rio-São Paulo Tournament to that. More victories for the "Seleção". One Roca Cup. Two Rio Branco Cups. One Copa America. And all this forgotten over one shot: Alcides Ghiggia's goal. The goal that silenced 200,000 voices in the Maracanã. After 34 minutes of the second half back on July 16, 1950. The day of the Maracanazo.
"My father said he didn't see the ball go past him. He only heard the deafening silence in the Maracanã. You understand, he heard the silence", Tereza recalls, while talking to ESPN.com.br this Tuesday night just hours after the "Seleção" suffered the most humiliating defeat in their history: 7-1 to Germany, in the semifinal of the 2014 World Cup. Held in Brazil, 64 years after her father gained eternal fame for the defeat against Uruguay.
Barbosa is one of the greatest names in Vasco's history. But his life was defined by that fateful Uruguayan goal that signaled the end of the dream of winning the 1950 World Cup on home soil. One false movement, an early shot from Ghiggia and there it was. Enough for one of the most talented goalkeepers of his era to be remembered for just one shot. And there he died in Praia Grande, 50 years later, on April 7, 2000, while living with his daughter -- after being subjected to unjust treatment for almost a half century.
The goalkeeper passed away without any pomp, without any great tributes, without any money. All this after achieving an unprecedented runners-up spot at the World Cup in an era when Brazil had little or no soccer tradition. Up to that point, their only major titles were three Copa Americas, for example. Compared to Argentina's nine, Uruguay's eight and one for Peru, and two Olympic gold medals for the "celeste".
"They promised the world and riches to the 1950 "Seleção". When they lost, they got nothing. My father was crucified. He didn't get any money; he was tossed into the fire. Look, it wasn't just Barbosa on the pitch in 1950, there were ten other players", explains his adopted daughter, who wasn't able to attend any games in the 2014 World Cup. "I really wanted to go to a game, but I don't have the money. Even so, I'm very happy with how things are now. My house is simple, but lovely. I have a wonderful husband. A wonderful family".
In spite of her father's redemption, Borba makes an exception. "I think he'd be sad where he is. He was a truly great person. An incredible man. And I'm sure that he'd be sad today for the boys who lost. He always had a smile on his face. He would have been the first fan to chant passionately for the team to win. He was a great, great man", she continued.
Borba isn't currently working in her former job, caring for the elderly. Instead, she dedicates her life to her father's memory, as the ex-goalkeeper's historian. "I put on exhibitions out of my own pockets, which aren't full by any means. My husband helps me as much as he can. My family are always helping. The CBF [Brazilian Football Confederation] never gave me any assistance. They never offered and I never asked. Even if they could help, I wouldn't ask".
In the Mineirão, around 60,000 people were present for the worst defeat in the history of the Brazilian national team. There were 140,000 more watching the 2-1 defeat to Uruguay in 1950. Who'll be the villain this time around? "Please write that I'm behind Júlio César. It wasn't his fault. I love him as a player. What happened to Barbosa is done. I don't want anyone to go through what my father went through", Borba implored.
"I don't want to hear anyone saying that we lost because Neymar wasn't playing. Come on people, is an entire World Cup just about Neymar? Is an entire World Cup just about Barbosa? It's not possible. There were 22 others in the squad. One swallow doesn't make a summer, just as one Neymar can't do it all on his own. Neither could one Barbosa. Nobody deserves to carry all the blame", added the former carer for the elderly. "My grandson still wants to be a goalkeeper. I just say to him: For God's sake, child...", she confessed, showing her concern.
Accorded to the deceased columnist Armando Nogueira, Barbosa was "without doubt, the most unjustly treated player in the history of Brazilian football. He was a masterful goalkeeper. He pulled off miraculous saves, turning away fiercely struck shots with an outstretched hand. Ghiggia's goal in the 1950 World Cup befell him like a curse. And the more I see the shot, the more I forgive him". At least now both Teresa and her father, wherever he may be, can be at peace: the "curse" was laid to rest this Tuesday. Seven feet below ground. One for each of the seven German goals. Rest in peace, Barbosa.