Year
1970

Pele leads Brazil over Italy

On June 21, 1970, Brazil, led by soccer legend Pele, wins its third World Cup championship with a 4-1 victory over Italy. The game, at Aztec Stadium in Mexico City, was attended by 112,000 spectators, most of whom could but marvel at the spectacular play Pele and the Brazilians showcased in their triumph.

The game was supposed to be a match between Italy’s counter-attacking style and Brazil’s “beautiful game,” but rain the night before the match had left the field damp and slow, limiting Brazil’s usual freewheeling style in the first half. Italy played with characteristic precision, but was stifled by Brazil’s defense, which was usually overshadowed by the team’s world-class attack. Brazil’s captain, Carlos Alberto Torres, directed the dominant defense from his left fullback position and continuously turned the ball upfield to his fabulous midfielders and forwards.

Eighteen minutes into the game, Brazilian midfielder Roberto Rivelino directed a crossing pass towards the front of the goal, and Pele, just 5’7″, leapt over the Italian defenders to head the ball into the goal past the diving Italian keeper Enrico Albertossi. Not to be outdone, Italian midfielder Roberto Boninsegna stole the ball from Brazilian defender Wilson Piazza and scored in the 19th minute to tie the game at 1-1.

The Brazilians began to dictate play in the second half, and in the 65th minute, Pele passed to a dashing Gerson Olivera Nunez for a goal and a 2-1 Brazil lead. Six minutes later, Gerson returned the favor, passing to Pele, who headed the ball to Brazilian striker Jair Ventura three feet from the goal. Ventura scored to put the Brazilians up 3-1 and from then on Brazil was in control, showing off its “beautiful game” to the delight of the crowd. With three minutes left in regulation, Pele dribbled toward the goal to draw the Italian defense, and then quickly dished the ball to teammate Carlos Alberto, who scored from 30 feet for a 4-1 lead.

The 1970 World Cup was the third championship for Pele and the Brazilians; the first came in 1958, when Pele was just 17, and the second in 1962. Brazil was the first team to win three World Cup Championships and in recognition of the feat they were given the gold Jules Rimet Trophy, named for a former FIFA president, permanently. The Rimet replacement, the gold FIFA World Cup Trophy, was awarded for the first time in 1974 to World Cup champion West Germany.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

French defeated in Spain

At Vitoria, Spain, a massive allied British, Portuguese, and Spanish force under British General Arthur Wellesley routs the French, effectively ending the Peninsular War. On February 16, 1808, under the pretext of sending reinforcements to the French army occupying Portugal, ...read more

Pershing attacked by Mexican troops

The controversial U.S. military expedition against Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa brings the United States and Mexico closer to war when Mexican government troops attack U.S. Brigadier General John J. Pershing’s force at Carrizal, Mexico. The Americans suffered 22 casualties, ...read more

Civil rights workers disappear

In Neshoba County in central Mississippi, three civil rights field workers disappear after investigating the burning of an African American church by the Ku Klux Klan. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in ...read more

U.S. Constitution ratified

New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land. By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation were apparent, such as the lack of central authority ...read more

Rolling Thunder raids continue

U.S. planes strike North Vietnamese petroleum-storage facilities in a series of devastating raids. These missions were part of Operation Rolling Thunder, which had been launched in March 1965 after President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a sustained bombing campaign of North Vietnam. ...read more

Communists storm U.S. base near Tay Ninh

Approximately 600 communist soldiers storm a U.S. base near Tay Ninh, 50 miles northwest of Saigon and 12 miles from the Cambodian border. The North Vietnamese had been shelling the base for two days, followed by six attacks on the city itself and the surrounding villages. About ...read more

Earthquake devastates Iran

An earthquake near the Caspian Sea in Iran kills more than 50,000 and injures another 135,000 people on this day in 1990. The 7.7-magnitude tremor wrecked havoc on the simply constructed houses in the area. Thirty minutes past midnight, with most people sleeping in their homes, ...read more

The KKK kills three civil rights activists

Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney are killed by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob near Meridian, Mississippi. The three young civil rights workers were working to register black voters in Mississippi, thus inspiring the ire of the local Klan. The deaths of Schwerner and ...read more

French withdraw navy from NATO

The French government shocks its allies by announcing that it is withdrawing its navy from the North Atlantic fleet of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The French action was viewed in the West as evidence that France would be pursuing an independent policy regarding ...read more

Grant extends the Petersburg line

On this day, Union General Ulysses S. Grant stretches his lines further around Petersburg, Virginia, accompanied by his commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln. After six weeks of heavy fighting between his Army of the Potomac and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a series ...read more