Sporting without Pelé or Garrincha and with goalkeepers that players wanted and coach did not

The campaign to win the Cup Winners’ Cup kicked off in Bergamo after Sporting failed to sign Pelé and Garrincha. Before that Carvalho was in an uproar and it was even at the last minute that he did not lose the goal. In goal he continued in Alvalade – and there drama lived the keeper of Atalanta …

It was playing the first round against Atalanta that Sporting launched itself to the conquest of the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1964 – soon seeing that its fate would be to leave opponents that came along the way in complication and odyssey (except, of course, APOEL who, from one of their two games in Alvalade, would come out beaten 16-1 in the biggest European rout in history…)

Failing the signings of Pelé and Garrincha, António Abrantes Mendes had brought from Brazil Bé – already after having brought from there one of his most charismatic coaches: Gentil Cardoso (who did not dispense with having here the physical trainer who was one of his trump cards: Jair Raposo – and his effect in astonishment in the tiebreaker game with Atalanta).

He had also tried in vain yet another “trout”: Mengálvio, who had been Didi’s substitute in Brazil and who had become world champion in Chile. For the agreement to be made, he proposed that António Monteiro go, as a bargaining chip, to play for Santos de Pelé, Zito, Coutinho, and Dorval – but Lula, his coach, discarded the hypothesis because he thought that only Didi could do in a football team what Mengálvio did. António Monteiro still did not know it, he would know it, shortly after: unlike several players who managed to stay safe from the war here, he did not: he would go to Angola (where he was born).


The PIDE continued to have doctors in prisons, they were doctors but little. For example, in the Fort of Peniche, the service was given to José Bonifácio da Silva. Already over 80 years old and deaf, he was proud to say that he did not believe in modernities such as radiographs or electrocardiograms. Sometime before, Georgette Ferreira, a PCP militant imprisoned in Caxias, had complained of a “gynecological crisis” – and Martins Ruas (a doctor of the same caliber…) had prescribed him only… “bag of hot water to put on the belly”.

They folded for weeks with Georgette in agony until, under pressure from inmates and family complaints, they brought her to the Capuchins. In one of the consultations, under the pretext of going to the laboratory of the analyses, she entered a bathroom, changed her hairstyle, put on the dress that they left there, went out into the street, got into the car that was waiting for her – and fled.

It was soon suspected that she might have been helped by “someone from the hospital” – PIDE, however, never found out who. It was Arménio Ferreira, who had come from Angola to play football at Sporting, the club’s doctor became, its manager as well. At Sporting, then, he kept dealing with the issues of cardiology – and another secret if he did not faint (to his luck): that he had been at the foundation of the MPLA, the Angolan independence movement – and, just as he had helped Georgette to escape his ordeal, he helped people to escape the war, deserting. Which is what Monteiro didn’t want to do (right after he participated in the historic campaign to win the Cup Winners’ Cup).

It was for little that Gentil Cardoso did not take the goal of Sporting to Carvalho. Photo: ASF


Before SpoSporting departedr the first match against Atalanta, he was at the Santander Tournament – and uproar had been experienced in Alvalade when a telegram arrived there from Gentil Cardoso asking for them to send him suddenly Barroca (goalkeeper who had left, sneaky, Benfica – tired of being Costa Pereira’s substitute). The reason was that Carvalho (and Pais) had conceded six goals from Athletic de Bilbao – and, from the next edition of A BOLA, the news (which seemed obvious) jumped out: that, in Bergamo, the goal would be Barroca’s, it would not be Carvalho’s…

Losing, however, Sporting with Lazio and Racing Santander (both 1-2) – if the game with the Spaniards had floured Gentil Cardoso, the game with the Italians left him mustard on his nose: “We lost for lack of courage, because they always put their foot better, because they were always more courageous and above all disorderly. Then there was the case of Carvalho… No goalkeeper in this world can be beaten like this, especially as he was on the second goal three minutes from the end. It’s a defeat that shames me. No, I don’t even want to apologize to the judge even if with an honest judge Lazio would have been left with only four or five guys. So I’m going to be very serious with my players. To Bergamo can only go the brave, who think a lot about the woman or the child, the best thing is to go to Lisbon…”

Before becoming one of the great figures of the conquest of the Cup Winners’ Cup, Osvaldo Silva walked through bad sheets (and therefore did not play in Bergamo). Photo: ASF


In Bilbao,there had been mosquitoes for ropes around João Morais (who would win eternity in the final with MTK, through the winning goal, in the sublime parable of his corner…), mosquitoes for ropes had returned, therefore, to exist in Santander – and then who took with the exam was Osvaldo Silvat Cruz dos Santos, special envoy of A BOLA, caught in tears on the way to his room: “After the game with Lazio, he appeared in the hotel supported by two colleagues, crying. Everyone thought it would be because of the injury he had to one foot. But it was later learned that there had been something unpleasant in the booth in words of reproach that Gentil Cardoso said to the whole team due to the performance with Lazio. And the truth is that neither Gentil nor Osvaldo had dinner. The coach got into bed and had some tea and the player stayed in bed without having eaten anything. We visited him a few times in his room, but he revealed nothing to us. I just cried. He also did not attend the luncheon. Gentil Cardoso revealed to us that he was going to fine him severely because he had not complied with his instructions. That he had been scoring free-kicks at the back and making throws from the sideline when his role was as a centre-forward and the orders were to play forward. It was reported that Osvaldo was going to be sent to Lisbon, this was not confirmed – and even goes as part of the entourage to Bergamo…”


Yes, Osvaldo Silva (who would be the greatest hero in the turnaround that took place in Alvalade in the 5-0 to Manchester United) went to Bergamo, but there he was substitute for Augusto Martins – and Carvalho only did not become a substitute for Barroca because, at the last minute, convinced by some of his pupils, Gentil Cardoso did not take the goal from his hands and did not regret it.

Hilário, the captain of Sporting, was one of the players who convinced Gentil Cardoso that the goalkeeper should be Carvalho. Photo: ASF

“Astonishing, sometimes superb,” were two adjectives that stuck to the Leo goalkeeper’s name in Italian newspapers. However, Carvalho (who, as usual, had played with a statuette of Santa Filomena hidden inside his goal) found reason for faint lament: “In the first goal, the ball went quite high and I could not reach it without wings. In the second, I was even more unfortunate: I put my fist to the ball, as was required, but the ball brought too much speed and bounced, capriciously, into the nets…”


Due to the rain that had fallen on Bergamo all day, the stands were half filled. With 16 minutes to go, Sporting were tied at zero, eventually conceding two goals – and the advantage they reaped did not leave Quário, the Italian coach, with much wider hopes: “No, I know, I don’t know… Two goals for Lisbon may be little. Sporting have a good team, but the attack is not of great ability…”

In L’Eco di Bergamo, Nico Orlandi wrote: “It was not easy for Atalanta to achieve victory, because the opponent was strong, organized, willing to do anything in defence. Sporting was big, powerful, as we were far from supposing. We all remember in Italy the way Benfica played and the verve. We don’t think Sporting have much to envy the other team in their city, if we exclude those individual flashes that usually illuminate the displays of those who were European champions.”


Fernando Mendes, who, with injury, played 50 minutes on the lame foot, because that was still the time when no substitutions could be made, left the field keeping his faith untouched: “If we shoot at goal in Lisbon, we can pass…”

Between the first and second game with Atalanta, Fernando Mendes gave an interview to A Bola in which he revealed that the most difficult player to score he had ever had was… Eusebio: «Giving him wide opens, it is impossible to hold him» – and jumped between dreams from Bergamo to Lisbon: «Against Atalanta there, we played the game that Mr. Gentil Cardoso ordered us to do: without excessive defensiveness and always taking advantage of the attack. We didn’t win because, with 25 minutes to go, there was the misfortune of Mascarenhas, who threw the ball to the crossbar after Lino’s shot that had also hit the crossbar. That move, if it were to be carried out, would give us the victory, since the goal would redouble our spirits. The Italians’ goals were fortuitous. We were undoubtedly superior to Atalanta and in Alvalade we will show it…”

Sporting’s 2-0 win in Alvalade led to the third game. Photo: ASF

Fernando Mendes continued in pain: “When there were five minutes left in the first half, in the scoring of a corner, I jumped with an opponent. In the fall, I sprained my foot and knee – the knee that had been operated on me last year – which made me continue and finish the game in precarious conditions. I thought it was worse, that it was the meniscus, given the unbearable pain I felt. However, the care of Sporting’s medical department recovered me. I still feel slight pain which, however, does not prevent me from playing. After warming up, it disappears… And even if it didn’t go away, if the coach wanted me to play the second leg, I played the same leg.” (Played.)


Before the second leg with Atalanta, Sporting faced Alhandra in Alvalade for the Portuguese Cup. In the tunnel leading to the field, Gentil Cardoso had two paintings nailed, two pictures with two thoughts and a single purpose. It was in one in bold letters: Always remember, you’re not just in the team – and in the other, it was also in giant characters: There’s no use complaining, the referee is the highest authority in there.

It was another sign of the spirit of Gentil Cardoso. That because he was as he was, in Brazil he was treated as the “coach-philosopher” – who sometimes went to the field with a… gramophone. That it was so that, inside, in practice, the players wouldn’t use excuses that they hadn’t listened to him well. He was also a frasista like he had never seen before in football. He was the first to say: Football is a box of surprises. And the first to use the zebra as a synonym for surprise and unexpected, inspired by the game of the beast – the illegal lottery game that using 25 animals, did not have the zebra.

Still in Bergamo, when looking at the scoreboard that scored 2-0, Mario Lino did not hide it: “This victory would be fine, but on the contrary – and at least we will force the third game.” Hit. Because, in Alvalade, Sporting won 3-1 and there is still no rule to determine which away goals were worth more for tiebreaker – the tiebreaker would jump to Barcelona.

Already with the Italian goalkeeper on the ground with a broken arm, Figueiredo’s reload for the Sporting goal. Photo: ASF


Figueiredo (who had spent the pre-season training alone – or rather: he did the physical preparation with his teammates, but then, when it was time for the joint training, they sent him away…) returned from the desert crossing and it was soon seen that with him the Sporting attack had more frenzy, more firepower, another elã.

It was 1-0 in the eighth minute – and, more than the goal conceded, the Italians complained of a “highly unfavourable circumstance” that had broken loose from fate at that moment: following Morais’ centre, Pizzaballa, the Atalanta goalkeeper, jumped in shock with Figueiredo, fell on his own body. Sitting on the turf, on the rebound Gardoni’s cut to the crossbar, Figueiredo touched the ball into the back of the deserted goal.

Writhing in pain and gasp, the drama was immediately noticeable: Pizzaballa had fractured his left arm – and Calvanese, his centre-forward, then went for goal (because it was still a time when there were no substitutions). On a stretcher they transported him to the medical station – and the one who treated him was Aníbal Costa, Sporting’s doctor. “It took him out of the shock in which he was showing”, he immobilized his arm through “revolutionary gerdy ligation technique”. (This prevented him from having to undergo complicated surgery, limiting himself to a four-week break.)

Atalanta played over 80 minutes with a centre-forward at goalkeeper (and he only conceded two goals). Photo: ASF

Pizzaballa was already with his arm around his chest and suit and tie, sitting in the chair they arranged for him next to his masseuse, to see the final part of the game, when the reporter of A BOLA caught his murmur: “I jumped the cross, I was pushed, I fell. I suffered a kick to my left hand. I consider, however, that there was no intention on the part of the Sporting centre-forward to injure me. But miss!” He hadn’t seen Christensen equalise in the 18th minute but had already seen Mascarenhas make it 2-1 in the 63rd – before Bé’s goal led to G.B. Radici telegraphing from Lisbon to the Gazetta dello Sport newsroom: “Without a goalkeeper after eight minutes of play and affected by a debatable goal, Nielsen, Gardoni, Colombo and company did not lose their minds. In the face of so much and such great adversity any other team would have surrendered. Atalanta, however, found in adversity the spirit, enthusiasm and steadfastness needed to survive. And it might even have won if a magnificent personal move by Domenghini had been capped off with a goal when the crowd was already showing signs of intolerance. The violent reaction that followed that move was fatal for Atalanta, but the Portuguese cannot congratulate themselves on the goals they then got – a real goalkeeper would have avoided them.”

Carlo Alberto Quario, o seu treinador não fugiu à caramunha: «O handicap surgido com a lesão do Pizzaballa inibiu-nos de alcançar outro resultado. É a única explicação que encontro. A única não: o primeiro golo do Sporting foi irregular, existiu um penálti que o árbitro, aliás, assinalou, mas, depois, decidiu olvidar a falta e assinalar o golo…»


That Sporting won well, but won lackluster, admitted Gentil Cardoso: “It would seem that the departure of the goalkeeper would only bring advantage to Sporting, but no, it had devastating psychological effects on our team. We had played so far with success and determination, dominating the Italians, who were very disturbed by this threatening harassment from Sporting. We scored, everything was well underway. But that positive psychological effect of the goal was simply neutralized by the negative psychological effect that brought to my team the departure of Pizzaballa. With this incident, although it seems paradoxical, it was the Italians who serenaded and recomposed themselves and it was Sporting who completely lost the thread of the game. Their goal, a cold, chilling, unexpected goal, further accentuated the disturbance of my players. But note: it was irregular goal, offside. Then our offense resented a lot of a player’s truly null performance…”

Manuel Marques, the masseuse who also had to deal with unusual ailments in the Sporting players


Mário Zambujal (who would become more than the remarkable writer of Crónica dos Bons Malandros) was one of the reporters of A BOLA in Alvalade – and insisting and reinsisting on asking who was the player of the «truly null performance», Gentil Cardoso no longer hid it: «It was Bé. It produced nothing. Come on, he scored the third goal. No, I’m not going to keep him on the attack in Barcelona. In addition to Bé’s bad night, there was something else: the day before I had Hilário and Mascarenhas with tonsillitis, so both of them – and not for this stretch they stopped playing. And I still had Géo with gastrointestinal disorder. So I don’t need to say that these players weren’t in their best condition, right, my boy?”


At the end of the game, Alvalade touched the first news of the tragedy. That wasn’t the game RAI had broadcast, it was Real-Glasgow Rangers – and, to see it, Longarone’s cafes were crowded with people. It was a small town, 100 kilometres north of Venice, planted at the foot of Mount Toc in the Alps – and she was excited about the exploits of her football club: the previous season she had only not won a game, she had reached the second division, which was what the second division was called. That night, a mountain slide flooded the dam built on the Vajont River, 270 million cubic meters of stones and earth caused the “killer wave” that, exceeding 250 meters in height, killed two thousand people.

Among the Longarone players who died was their star: Giorgetto de Cesare, whom Bologna had announced they wanted to sign after learning that three days earlier he had scored five goals. Of those who were in the village only one was saved, with one shattered leg: Absent. Franco De Biasio was unscathed, but because he was studying far away, in Conegliano. When he returned home, he had no home: only rubble – and underneath it was his father, his mother, his sister. The same happened to Franco Concolato – who that same day had wept as he took the bus that took him to the troops, not imagining that this would take him out of the tragedy.

The heart of Manuel Marques, Sporting’s masseuse, stirred: already in Barcelona, he decided to collect between players and coaches – and gathering about 2500 escudos, he asked the president of Atalanta to hand them over to help the victims of Vaiont.

Gentil Cardoso with Mário Cunha, Sporting’s football boss


G.B. Radice, a reporter for Gazetta dello Sport, met at the hotel with Vítor Santos, A BOLA’s special envoy for that third game against Atalanta, at the Sporting hotel – and exclaimed to him: “Do you want to win? Well, then, score a goal in the first 10 minutes. And not only in the first part, but also in the second. Atalanta is a team that, like certain cars, takes its time to warm up. Your chance is to surprise her in the cold. Don’t forget that. Because otherwise, I don’t think the outcome is anything other than the victory of my compatriots…”

Precisely at that moment, Horácio de Sá Viana Rebelo (the president who would become Marcelo Caetano’s Minister of Defense, after the death of António Oliveira Salazar), Mário Cunha and Gentil Cardoso entered the hall – and Vítor Santos made the suggestion to Radice: “Why don’t you say all this to the coach of Sporting, that gentleman who goes there, with your balanced and clumsy gait?”

Radice looked at him and looked at him – and, with bulging eyes, remarked, wittily: “No, I can’t, because the coach of Sporting can’t be Edward G. Robinson.” They laughed a lot and agreed that yes, Gentil was a perfect photocopy of the Edward G. Robinson who had made The Stranger with Orson Wells. But no—it wasn’t anything like Radice had said it had to be.


Sporting didn’t score in the first 10 minutes, they scored at 24 by Mascarenhas (and at 20 they were already losing). At 1-1 it was the end of the 90 minutes. In extra time Lucio and Mascarenhas sealed the passage to the second round and Calvanese closed the matter with a symptomatic phrase: “Yes, Sporting won well because they had… Más Aire’.

With this “más aire“, he showed what he was: Argentine by birth, despite having become a naturalized Italian – and showed, even better, why everything ended as it did: “I confess: amazing the way Sporting played extra time. It looked like they had four lungs. I, for one, couldn’t run anymore. But they—uff! – how they kept cool! For that reason alone they deserved to win. And since they beat us, now I just want them to win the Cup Winners’ Cup” (and that’s really what you know…)

For Calvanese, the secret of the sportinguistas was their “four lungs”. Photo: ASF

The tiebreaker was made at Sarriá, the Spaniard’s home ground. Not even reaching 5000 tickets sold, 113 340 pesetas (something like 56 short stories) were collected. As the expenses of organization exceeded 70 thousand pesetas, the profit that Sporting and Atalanta took was little (about 10 contos). Doctor in boarding school had salary of 600 escudos, assistant at the Faculty of Medicine received 2800 – and Fernando Namora wrote (provocative) that, in Portugal, the doctor was the only person whose profession was to help die those who never felt alive.


In the newspapers, it appeared to complain like this: Superyeast Gayelord Hauser. The simplest meal can be a full meal. Superyeast is as natural a food as meat and vegetables: 25 powdered shields, 30 tablet shields – challenging sportsmen to take it “so that they would be ‘stronger’.

The Amparo Flour promised the same. On the green of the packaging, you could see a drawing of an athlete running on a track – and embroidering it with a phrase that said: For Great Sports, Great Foods – and had already entered the language of everyday life through jokes such as: Look, so-and-so got his driver’s license in Farinha Amparo… Look, the beltrano left him the course of lawyer in Farinha Amparo.

In that year of 1964, he promised that fans of Sporting, Benfica, FC Porto, Belenenses, Atlético and V. Setúbal who sent 12 “proofs of purchase” would receive in the mail a gold emblem («gold even»!) of his club. It was clean wheat, flour – as in the jargon that, in football, was used as often as the referee needing glasses – or sometimes worse in the most impure vernacular. Referees earned 600 escudos per game in Division I, 350 in Division II and 160 in other competitions – and the Cup final yielded 1000 escudos.

The passing prize of the Sporting players would not reach 9000 euros today. Photo: ASF


By the elimination of Atlanta, each Sporting player already knew that he was entitled to a bonus of 20 contos (which according to the Pordata converter would today be 8,992 euros). Money like that was what they earned in salary in five months. None had ever received so much of a prize – and if Benfica de Riera had won the European Cup the previous season against AC Milan, each of their players would have been entitled to 50 contos.

By that time, it was easy to stumble upon A Bola in a complaint to the “fashionable turntables” that Casa J. Gonçalves, to Saldanha, sold at 1150 escudos. And if you wanted something even more “revolutionary” there was the “sound recorder for cassettes” at 1900 escudos.