Wednesday, July 21, 2010

21 July 1914 - Brazil's Humble Beginnings

On 21 July 1914, the best players from clubs in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo united to play a match against visiting English side Exeter City, thus forming the Brazilian national team.

Exeter City had traveled to South America at the behest of Argentinian footballers, who had sent a request to the FA for a team to play against their local clubs. The FA chose Exeter City, then positioned in mid-table of the Southern League, as a representative English team.

After their matches in Argentina, Exeter City scheduled three matches in Brazil before returning home. They won their first match 3-0 against a group of English expatriates, then beat a select Rio side 5-3. For the final match of the tour, Rio suppressed local rivalries to seek help from São Paulo's best players.

An estimated overflow crowd of 10,000 people watched the combined all-star team play Exeter at Rio's Laranjeiras Stadium. After the Brazilians took a 1-0 lead with a goal from Oswaldo Gomes, the visitors became chippy, reportedly challenging Brazilian striker Artur Friedenreich so hard that he lost two teeth. The Brazilians got their revenge with a second goal, this time from Osman, to win the match 2-0.

Since that match, the Brazilian national team has become one of the world's most successful teams, with a record five World Cup titles.

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