By 90Min
April 01, 2018

Some goals are elevated by the situation in which they are scored. Others transcend the game from which they occurred entirely, forging a life of their own. Rarely does one paradoxically managed to achieve both.

Even more extraordinary is a goal that perfectly encapsulates the entire essence of a team, distilling all their magnificence into 36 seconds, 29 touches, nine passes, one step over and a shot to create pure footballing poetry.

As with all great art, Carlos Alberto's 86th minute strike in the 1970 World Cup Final was predetermined with painstaking and thoughtful preparation, yet executed with the impression of unbridled spontaneity.

While Brazil's technical ability was always lauded as the defining factor in their superiority, their organisation and measure is often overlooked.

The so called 'perfect goal' displayed the best of both these attributes.

As the goalscorer himself pointed out in an interview with the Observer in 2013: "We’d worked on the move in training. Zagallo had said that if we dragged the Italians to the left wing, then I should get forward down the right.

"He would send his assistant coach to watch opposition matches and take photos with a telephoto lens. He’d come back and give us a slide show on his projector. 

"The Italians were obviously too good defensively not to track back, but we noticed that, probably because of the heat, they dropped off later in the game."

So, it was always in Brazil's script - it just had to be enacted correctly with the cameras on, in front of 107,412 expectant people, on the biggest stage of all.

But there were no nerves present when the time came, only ruthless clarity: "This was the 85th minute and they were already beat, so I just took off.”

And take off he did, in surely one of the most well timed runs in the history of the game. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, for Alberto's run isn't the only pitch perfect aspect of this masterpiece. 

As alluded to in the intro, the context isn't necessarily required to appreciate the work, but it is worth laying down the foundations before analysing the cherry on top. 

Having gone in front through a towering header from Pele, which bore a remarkable resemblance to the one Gordon Banks so infamously saved in the quarter final, the Italians hit back just before half time to level the scores. 

After a tense end-to-end start to the second half, the deadlock was eventually broken by Gerson in the 66th minute with a long range effort that curled sumptuously away from the keeper.

With the Italian's hitherto unerring spirit cracked, Jairzinho finished them off with a far less exquisite bumbling finish off his knee, after Pele knocked down a route one lob into the box.

Almost certainly confirmed as winners, lesser teams would've been satisfied with their lot, and seen out the remaining 20 minutes with austerity. Brazil's attention, however, turned to artistry, and to how they could commemorate their ascension.

And so, after an ailing Italian failed with a fruitless run, they recovered the ball deep in their own half, and commenced their tapestry. Its first threads are made up of a few lethargic passes - as if surveying the scene that lies before them. 

After a particularly lax one near the centre circle, Clodoaldo decides enough is enough. Collecting the bobbling ball, he allows the oncoming defender a brief glimmer of hope, before calmly slotting it past him to begin his slalom. 

The duped defender's subsequent begrudging kick out has no effect, and if anything only reaffirms Clodaoldo's desire to torment his toiling opponents. No sooner has he regained his footing from the first evasion, is he forced to elude an even more impassioned Italian, whose boot is thrust viciously at near waist-level. 

Undeterred, he shields both himself and the ball with another precise sideways touch before instinctively and instantly throwing a delightfully feigned step-over to send the third Italian flying into oblivion. 

A fleeting moment of satisfaction is permitted here, before another opponent comes for him, far more gingerly than his predecessors, and his apprehension is duly capitalised on with another agile cut back. After four sublime seconds, and four defenders conquered, Coldaoldo's dance is over. He momentarily absorbs the adulation from the stands, before knocking it out to his teammate on the touchline. 

This teammate, Rivellino, takes barely a beat before caressing it up field to the scampering Jairzinho. After killing it dead with a touch so deft it almost surprises the great man himself, he sets off to cause chaos. Driving purposefully at a jaded Facchetti, Italy's captain, he suddenly shifts inside, drawing in Facchetti's partner Pierluigi Cera before tapping it off to Pele at the last second. 

As Pele receives the ball, the English commentator - privy to a view of the pitch that we are not - reaches a level of excitement that we cannot yet comprehend. Indeed, he announces Carlos Alberto's bursting arrival before we are even aware of his presence. 

Time stands still as Pele, telepathically familiar with his captain's advancing run, nonchalantly waits for the perfect moment before rolling it across playfully into his path. 

With no hesitation, the right back gallops up to the ball, before leathering it with untethered power back across the goal and into the corner. The Azteca Stadium erupts with unprecedented astonishment, as his at last satisfied teammates finally allow themselves to revel in their glory.

As Alberto would later describe it: “Pelé and me played so often together that he knew where I was – I didn’t need to shout. He saw me coming and rolled his pass in front of me so I didn’t have to break stride. 

“And I caught it perfectly.”

Upon Carlos Alberto's passing in October 2016, the footballing world recounted with fondness the legacy he left - a legacy he crowned by cementing his side's status as the everlasting greats of world football, with the finest goal the World Cup has ever produced.

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