Football: Coaching the best out of the next Pele

England Schoolboys 0 Brazil Schoolboys 0

TIMES change, attitudes too, but long-held misconceptions about Brazilian football linger; never mind that Pele didn't see Rio de Janeiro until his 16th year, just trawl the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema and you are sure to come across fresh jewels for the crown.

Cliche assumes only gifts from the womb, generation upon generation of great natural footballers; Vava, Didi, Garrincha, Pele, Gerson, Tostao, Jairzinho, Rivelinho, Carlos Alberto, Zico, Socrates, Falcao, Junior, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo.

The modern truth is in a structured system of club academies similar to that being put in place by the Football Association's technical director, Howard Wilkinson, at the expense of influence held historically by the English Schools' Football Association.

If pointless, the ESFA's opposition to Wilkinson's blueprint was evident in the dismay some of its officials put forward at a reception following Saturday's 0-0 draw against Brazil, the last appearance at Wembley by England schoolboys. "Why? Go and ask those people over there," the ESFA chairman, Alan Heads, growled across at a group of FA representatives.

Under a system that will require the clubs to meet stringent standards of coaching, welfare and general education before their academies are approved, boys will play no more than 30 competitive games a season.

Wilkinson's biggest problem is with the lack of enthusiasm for his efforts shown by some Premier League clubs but at least there is now a proper process of development in English football.

What it cannot do of course is to create the natural fluency of Brazilian football. John Cartwright, who turned out for West Ham and brought forward a clutch of future international players for Crystal Palace in the 70s, is now the Professional Footballers' Association's technical director. "At this level we are not, and never have been, that far behind anyone in technical ability," he said on Saturday, "but things have tended to go wrong further forward."

In Brazil, the romance of urchin advancement, from the rutted streets of Pele's deprived youth in Bauru to international stardom, has long since given way to planned evolution. Many of today's players, Juninho for example, are from middle-class backgrounds and are the elite products of coaching schools.

Significantly, despite a fourth World Cup success in 1994, the modernising of Brazil's football is not without its critics. "Success is fine," says a veteran observer, Jose Werneck, "but sometimes I feel that the essence of our game has been overtaken by European ideas. At these clinics they are teaching players to kick with both feet but Gerson only needed his left and a marvellous instinct to be a great player."

Werneck would not have been able to find much fault with the effect of coaching on Saraiva, a 14-year old from southern Brazil who wore the legend of Pele's No 10 on his back at Wembley.

Saraiva may be the youngest player ever to wear colours that always quicken the pulse, but in bright, wide-set eyes and strong features there is a maturity beyond his time.

To be spoken of as the next Pele is a huge burden. It proved too much for the immensely talented Edu who was included at 16 in Brazil's 1966 World Cup squad.

Another who wore 10 on his back, but in England's colours, cast a sharp eye over Saraiva. Johnny Haynes's outstanding career in the game opened up to public gaze in 1950 when he turned out against Scotland in the first schoolboy international played at Wembley.

Saturday's guest of honour, now in his early sixties, Haynes warmed to Saraiva's gifts and confidence. "You can never be sure what the future holds for a player of this age, whether he will grow into the game as an adult, but this kid looks to have a lot going for him," Haynes said.

Not least pride in performance and gratitude for the good things that have happened to him since he begged $5 (pounds 3) from his grandfather (his parents were penniless) to take part in an indoor tournament.

Spotted by the local club, Internacional, he will soon leave home to join them as a sponsored trainee. Playing at Wembley fascinated Saraiva not least because he knows that Pele never played there. "It was a big thrill," he said, "now I hope to make something of myself in football. To be like Ronaldo."

Times change but some things never change. If good organisation has been central to Brazil's success, Saraiva reminded us on Saturday that thrilling virtuosity is the lifeblood of their football.

England: Evans; Clark, Clarke, Tapp, O'Brien (capt), Dodd, Parnaby, Defoe, Bewers, Hanshaw, Boothroyd. Substitutes: Szmid, Logan, Davis, Nardiello, Crookes.

Brazil: Rubinho; Caio, Fernando, Matheus (capt), Wellington, Eduardo, Glauber, Walker, Carlos Augusto, Saraiva, Wendel. Substitutes: Diego, Robson, Jaiton, Leanderson, Maua, Bruno.

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?