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Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 19:02 GMT 20:02 UK
The man who's seen it all
Carlos Alberto scores a memorable goal in the final against Italy in 1970
The 1970 World Cup final stands out for Brodie

World Football's Alan Green caught up with his old friend Malcolm Brodie in Ibaraki and asked him about how the tournament had changed in nearly half a century of his watching it.

Malcolm Brodie is at his 13th World Cup and he has seen the immense change in football.

"The whole concept of football has changed, never mind the World Cup, for me, and sometimes not for the better," said Brodie.

"The first World Cup I ever attended was in Switzerland in 1954, and of course it hadn't the commercial significance it has now. You really felt it was about football.

Ferenc Puskas
Brodie says Puskas added to football

"And for me it was also the beginning of a dynamic change in football.

"It was the advent of the Brazilians, and also Hungary and Ferenc Puskas, who brought new dimensions to the sport.

"The Hungarians brought skill and technique, and the power and strength of British football - a great combination."

Four years later in Malcolm was in Sweden, along with a certain 17-year old.

"I was fascinated by Pele from that moment," continued Brodie.

"In my opinion he is the greatest and most accomplished player the world has ever seen.

"I saw genius there - genius which also applied to George Best, who of course never made it to a World Cup.

Pele was 17 in his first World Cup in 1958

"But my vivid memory of the 1958 World Cup, apart from Northern Ireland qualifying for the quarter-finals with a team of just 16, is of Brazil winning the cup and beating the host nation Sweden.

Pele, a boy of just 17, lifted his shirt up and wiped the tears from his eyes.

"To me that's one of the significant moments of World Cup history."

Malcolm has been lucky enough to watch some of the greatest players ever.

"The list is endless," he said. "You think of Cruyff, Maradona, Eusebio, Mario Kempes, Paulo Rossi, Bobby Moore - what a wonderful player he was.

Open Quote
The days of the World Cup promoting small countries like Sweden and Switzerland are over
Close Quote
Malcolm Brodie

"I don't think his memory is established enough in England."

But in terms of special matches, Malcolm definitely has his favourites.

"I have to say there are two. First of all it has to be Northern Ireland defeating Spain 1-0 in Valencia in 1982 when Gerry Armstrong got that goal.

"The team bus had to wait an hour and a half for him after the game because he couldn't produce a urine sample for the drug test!"

"The other one of course has to be the classic of classics, the real piece de resistance of football.

"It's the 1970 final between Italy and Brazil in Mexico City. I thought that was the finest exhibition of World Cup football I've ever watched."

But Malcolm told me he wasn't convinced about certain things at his 13th World Cup.

Bobby Moore
Moore is one of Brodie's favourites

'I'm totally against co-hosting. I think a World Cup has to be placed in a centre with a complete passion for football, and I think occasionally here in Japan you wonder whether you're really at a World Cup.

"I think the logistics of travel are too much for supporters. I think Fifa must be careful in where they select venues, and I don't think the rotational system will work.

"It's becoming similar to the Olympics. The days of the World Cup promoting small countries like Sweden and Switzerland are over. There just aren't the facilities."

And will he be coming back to Germany in 2006?

"That's in the lap of the gods," he said. "I'd like to think that as long as I have my health I'll be here, because I get a stimulus from the World Cup.

"I come away from them learning something more about the game and appreciating the ultimate talent and genius of so many great players."


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