SAO PAULO -- Julio Mazzei, who helped persuade Pele to play in the United States and coached the Cosmos to a North American Soccer League title in 1982, has died. He was 78.
He died Sunday in a clinic in the coastal city of Santos after a nine-year fight with Alzheimer's disease. The death was confirmed Tuesday by Pele's sports marketing office in Sao Paulo.
Pele, a longtime friend, phoned Mazzei's wife to offer condolences and sent flowers to the family. Mazzei worked in Pele's sports marketing office in New York.
Pele has always said that Mazzei was influential in his decision to join the Cosmos in 1975. A renowned physical trainer in Brazil, Mazzei was the Cosmos' coach in 1979-80 and again in 1982-83, leading the 1982 team that featured Giorgia Chinaglia to its fourth NASL title in six years.