Before Pelé, before Ronaldo, before Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Jairzinho, before all of their and the Brazilian national team's successes, the Selecao had a goalscoring phenomenon within their ranks. A player so talented that it is almost criminal that his immense capabilities were not to be recompensed with any international titles, a man they called 'Queixada' such was his prominent jawline: Ademir Marques de Menezes.
Ademir, as he was more simply known, was one of the earliest traces of the now iconic flair and flamboyance commonly associated with those who have donned the symbolic colours of Brazil, and was such as inspirational footballing figure that he is even said to have been a player that Pele looked up to.
Queixada - which simply translates to 'jaw' - was a slight, delicately built player who almost seemed not to be built for football; but to say his physique was misleading and illusive would be an understatement. Ademir, with his slicked back hair and almost pubescent moustache, played with a swagger and embracement of a 'samba' style of play that set the tone for the nation's footballing identity, but he was not just a fruitless trickster.
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The man who started his career at Sport Recife - based in the town of his birth - made his first team debut for the club at just 18 years of age, and it was not long until the nation's biggest clubs had eyes on the young forward.
After racking up a tally of 98 goals in 75 appearances for Sport Recife, Ademir spent time at Vasco da Gama and Fluminense before ending his career back at Sport Recife; where he scored 364 goals in 359 games and won six state league championships. Amidst his excellent club career, however, the 'Jaw' made his maiden appearance at a World Cup in 1950, and how he took his chance to shine.
At this point it must be said that Ademir's popularity was atmospherically high. So high in fact, that one local from the forward's hometown of Recife made the unfathomably long trip to Boa Vista where the Brazil national team were based for the tournament, seeking to speak to the Selecao boss Flavio Costa.
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The local asked Costa if Ademir would be allowed to leave the Brazil camp and accompany his son throughout a significant surgical operation, as the child was refusing to undergo the procedure without his hero being by his side. Costa gave the forward permission to leave the camp to accompany the youngster throughout his procedure, and Ademir returned to Boa Vista after supporting the child through his surgery and awaiting the surgeon's diagnosis.
Aside from his empathetic acts, however, Queixada had a World Cup to attend to. The Brazilians began their tournament with a resounding 4-0 win over Mexico in what was the first ever game at the Maracanã Stadium, with Ademir also becoming the first ever goalscorer at the famous stadium with his 30th minute strike, the first of two goals in that match.
This comprehensive victory was followed by another professional performance as the Selecao swept aside Yugoslavia by two goals to nil, with Ademir notching the first after just four minutes as Brazil took top spot in their group. The favourites for the tournament would now find the reigning Olympic champions Sweden standing in their way in the second round.
Watched by a staggering 160,000 spectators inside the Maracana, Brazil battered the Swedes by an unbelievable 7-1 scoreline to further enhance their status as the overriding tournament favourites; whilst Ademir further enhanced his own status as one of the world's best strikers by adding to his three goals in the previous rounds, with a four-goal haul in the rout.
If the 'Jaw's' popularity was at an atmospheric high before the tournament began, it had gone into orbit by the time Brazil faced Spain in the next game.
Incredibly, Ademir added another two to his tally as the Selecao swatted aside their opposition emphatically with a 6-1 win over the Spanish; a match which left them needing a draw from their next game to clinch the trophy and consequently took the prolific forward's tally in the competition to nine goals. There was seemingly little doubt that Ademir would become the first player in FIFA World Cup history to reach double figures in one tournament.
#DidYouKnow: Duplo T used in the 1950 World Cup 🏆 was the first of its kind – inflated with a pump and needle through a tiny valve. #SaturdayMotivation #RussianRoulette #Russia2018 #WorldCup2018 #FootTheBall #Russia2018WorldCup#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/Gf6X710z8N— FootTheBall⚽ (@FootTheBall) January 27, 2018
Strangely, in what was the only case of this format ever happening in World Cup history, the champions would be decided by a four team final group in what was a mini-league structure if you will, as opposed to the standard one match final.
Brazil and Uruguay would find themselves topping the group, leaving their match up against each other as the decisive fixture in who would take home the Jules Rimet trophy.
Everyone associated with the Selecao felt that the trophy had already been secured. Local newspapers had already printed their 'Champions of the World' edition issues, while a samba band occupied the touchline waiting eagerly to play their new song 'Brazil the Winners'. It was a national priority to secure the win. The Government felt that a victory would unite the nation and earmark Brazil as a international powerhouse as a result.
5.#1 - 199,854 people watched the @FIFAWorldCup in Rio. The game was played at Estadio do Maracana. Uruguay defeated Brazil by a score of 2–1 on 16 July 1950.#Brazil #Uruguay #RiodeJaneiro #FIFA #Pele #WorldCup #SouthAmerica #Football #CopaAmerica pic.twitter.com/XkxLOzxDWx— @One (@Hash1tag1) January 31, 2018
After the slightly presumptive pre-match confetti had been cleared from the pitch, the game began. A celebratory atmosphere inside the Maracana from it's 200,000 inhabitants felt like the match had already been won, and after Ademir assisted Friaca for the opening goal, it felt as though a win was a foregone conclusion. The Uruguayans, however, had other ideas.
Such was their fury at being branded losers before a ball had even been kicked, La Celeste had used the newspapers as pre match motivation, throwing them to the ground inside their dressing room in a fit of rage as they looked to transpire their anger into productivity out on the Maracana pitch.
In the 66th minute, the Selecao's fans were left sitting nervously as Juan Alberto Schiaffino scored an unexpected equaliser, and then with just 11 minutes left, Alcides Ghiggia silenced the 200,000 inside the Maracana with a shot that went in off the post.
Pele was just 9 years old when Brazil lost the 1950 FIFA World Cup™ to Uruguay. “It was the first time I ever saw my father cry, and all because of that defeat,” “I remember saying to him: ‘Don’t cry, Papa. I’ll win the World Cup for you.’ ” And He did it in 1958, 62 and 70 pic.twitter.com/U7LjfrXlld— WorldSoccerTV (@PanamaSoccerTV) December 21, 2017
Uruguay had won the World Cup, and one of the greatest blunders of misguided arrogance in footballing history had been witnessed.
The nation of Brazil dubbed the incident 'Maracanazo', which translates to 'the great Maracana blow' and the country's residents still hold the pain of the immense tragedy to this very day.
According to Ademir's widow, the forward had that game in mind until the day he died, and the legacy of success that should've been associated with 'Queixada', had instead been tainted by failure and ineptitude; a total injustice for his phenomenal capabilities in football.
A long period in commentary following his retirement preceded his death on 11 May 1996, and one of his most renowned sayings, 'the soul of a player never leaves the field', will forever be associated with the slightly built but oh so talented footballer, for in a way, Ademir's soul will forever remain at the heart of the Maracana Stadium on that fateful day back in 1950.