Zito: Commanding midfielder who helped to guide Brazil to consecutive World Cup triumphs

The neat, pragmatic, impeccably organised wing-half was instrumental in creating the platform from which stars such as Pele and Garrincha dazzled

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The Independent Online

Zito was a colossal influence; a commanding if somewhat unsung presence in midfield as Brazil emerged as the ultimate force in international football, winning the World Cup for the first time in 1958 and retaining it in 1962.

While headlines were dominated by the prodigious talents of team-mates such as Pele and Garrincha, and understandably so, the neat, pragmatic, impeccably organised wing-half was invariably instrumental in creating the platform from which the stars dazzled.

Zito was a strong, intelligent character who won tackles and made simple passes, entering the limelight only occasionally. The most decisive such occasion was when he started and finished the move which put the Selecao in front after conceding an early lead to Czechoslovakia in the 1962 final in Santiago, Chile, nodding home an Amarildo cross on the way to a 3-1 triumph.

Four years earlier, in Sweden, he had been integral to the 5-2 victory over the host nation in the Stockholm final, and he went on to collect 52 caps in an international career which stretched from 1955 to 1964.

At domestic level, too, Zito was hugely successful, helping Santos – his only senior club, for whom he scored 57 goals in more than 700 appearances between 1952 and 1967 – to win 22 major trophies. These included the Copa Libertadores twice, in 1962 and 1963, and the Sao Paulo state championship nine times.

Later, he served Santos splendidly behind the scenes, being credited with the discovery of future top performers such as Robinho and current Barcelona hero Neymar. With Zito's death, Pele and Mario Zagallo are the last survivors of the great 1958 side.


Jose Ely de Miranda (Zito), footballer: born Sao Paulo, Brazil 8 August 1932; died Santos, Brazil 14 June 2015.