Soccer …….

If ever there was a book worth buying simply for a single chapter, this might be the one. That chapter consisting of the best account of the Fateful Final – the infamous 1950 World Cup decider between Brazil and Uruguay – you will ever read. Bellos brings the drama and personal heartache of an entire nation to life: Uruguayan winger Alcides Ghiggia’s late winner which stunned an expectant country; the dusty film of the shot, described as “Brazil’s Zapruder footage”; how the failure haunted keeper Moacir Barbosa, beaten at his near post, right up until his death (“Look at him,” a woman tells her son in a shop. “There’s the man who made all of Brazil cry” … “Under Brazilian law the maximum sentence is for 30 years,” Barbosa said, “but my imprisonment has been for 50”); the subsequent redesign of Brazil’s “unlucky” white kit into the iconic yellow shirts worn today (by, ironically, a supporter of Uruguay). That’s not to say the rest of the book isn’t gripping, but other excellent chapters – such as the ones on tragic alcoholic Garrincha, the 1998 Nike scandal, or Brazil’s only transvestite football club – should be considered a welcome bonus.

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Wonder, silence, gratitude

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