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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK

Become an instant expert... on Brazilian football

The World Cup always brings out the dilettantes. So how can fair-weather fans avoid making a football faux pas during the Brazil-England game? Try dropping these futebol factoids.

"Brazil actually lost the 1970 World Cup."

Winning their third World Cup final in 1970, the Brazilians were given the 12-inch high Jules Rimet Trophy for keeps, or so the plan went.

Housed in the Brazilian Football Association's Rio de Janeiro headquarters, the cup was stolen in, 1983. It is thought the thieves melted down it down for its more-than 3kg of solid gold.

The Jules Rimet had already survived World War II hidden from the Nazis under a bed in Italy and been recovered by Pickles the dog when it had been stolen in London prior to the 1966 World Cup.

"The name 'Pele' doesn't mean anything."

While Edson Arantes do Nascimento's pseudonym is known the world over, not even Pele himself knows how he earned the nickname as a teenager or what it means. Some Brazilians also called him Perola Negra, which does mean something - Black Pearl.

"One of the biggest heroes of Brazilian football is from Southampton."

Southampton railway engineer Charles "Nipper" Miller organised the first proper game of football in Brazil in 1895 - much to the bemusement of the locals. "A group of Britishers... kick something that looked like an ox's bladder," wrote one Sao Paulo paper.

Miller later founded one of Brazil's top clubs, Corinthians - named after Corinthian Casuals, the amateur side he had played for in Britain.

"Brazil has two strikers called Ronaldo."

The habit of calling many Brazilian players by their Christian names only can lead to confusion.

When Ronaldo Luiz Nazario de Lima (the famous Ronaldo, pictured) first joined the squad, he was known as Ronaldinho (Little Ronaldo) to differentiate him from the defender Ronaldao (Big Ronaldo).

So far so good. But when youngster Ronaldo de Assis Moreira was capped, he became the team's littlest Ronaldo and thus won the Ronaldinho nickname.

To differentiate the new Ronaldinho from the old Ronaldinho (the famous Ronaldo, keep up) he was christened Ronaldinho Gaucho (Little Ronaldo from Porto Alegre). Simple.

"Brazilian fans expect more than just a win."

When Brazil beat Colombia 1-0 in a 2000 World Cup qualifier at Sao Paulo's Morumbi stadium, home fans were still far from pleased by the winning effort.

"Timinho!" bellowed the crowd at their "tiny team".

Another Brazilian chant to listen out for is "Burro, burro, burro!", usually directed at the team's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Burro, of course, means donkey.

"Pele also played for Trinidad and Tobago."

In John Huston's World War II football movie Escape to Victory (about a side of Allied prisoners of war taking on a Nazi XI), Pele was cast as Caribbean Corporal Luis Fernandez, alongside Bobby Moore and five Ipswich players.

Why did Brazil's greatest star have to masquerade as Trinidadian? Perhaps because the Allied team already had Argentine star Osvaldo Ardiles playing a "Brazilian" PoW.

Of course, "Ossie" couldn't have played an Argentine PoW, since his country only declared war on the Nazis in March 1945.

"Brazil hasn't always happily fielded black players, you know?"

Despite having the largest black population of any country other than Nigeria, and a reputation for racial harmony, Brazil also boasts a club side nicknamed the "rice-powder".

Fluminense won the handle thanks to its efforts to cosmetically whiten the faces of black players. The practice only halted in the 1950s.

"Football's a matter of life and death in Brazil, literally?"

When hosts Brazil lost the 1950 World Cup final against Uruguay 2-1, two of the 175,000 crammed into Rio's Maracana stadium committed suicide by throwing themselves off a stand.

However, some Brazilians can tear themselves away from watching their national side play. A gang of 17 prisoners tunnelled out their Sao Paulo cells while their guards were engrossed by Brazil's World Cup opener against Turkey.

Two of the escapees were killed.

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