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Born: Saturday 29 July 1939, Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil
Few players have seen their careers so transformed by a single major tournament as Amarildo. Travelling to the 1962 World Cup in Chile as a reserve, he got his chance in the team when Pelé was injured and went on to become one of the stars of the Brazilian team which retained the title. The tournament transformed him from a little known player to a world star, bringing a move to Italy where he spent almost a decade playing in Serie A.
The son of former Brazilian international Amaro de Silveira, Amarildo Tavares de Silveira was born in Campos dos Goytacazes in Rio de Janeiro state, on 29 July 1939. In 1956 he joined Goytacaz, his father's old team, where he initially played on the left wing. Over the next two years, Amarildo's speed and skill on the ball, combined with an excellent goalscoring record in the youth team, earned him a move to Flamengo ahead of the 1958 season.
Breaking into the first team at Flamengo in June 1958, Amarildo played just half a dozen games for the club before being released and considered giving up the game, but got a second chance after a successful trial with Botafogo later that year. That season, his new and old clubs both finished tied with Vasco da Gama in the Rio state league, both missing out in a three-way play-off. During his time at the club he appeared in a variety of forward positions but was still primarily used as a left-winger or an inside-left.
Amarildo won his first international cap early in 1961, in a 2-0 win over Paraguay, before winning the first major honour of his club career later in the same year. Botafogo won the Rio state title comfortably, losing just one game all season, and Amarildo's 18 goals made him the top scorer in the league. Early in 1962, he was also top scorer in the Rio-São Paulo tournament, scoring twice in the win over Palmeiras which sealed the title for Botafogo.
Although regularly selected in the Brazilian national squad, the depth of talent available in the country at the time meant that he was often used as a substitute and was selected for the 1962 World Cup squad as a back-up player. Not appearing in either of Brazil's first two games in defence of their title, the turning point in his career came when Pelé suffered an injury in the goalless draw with Czechoslovakia and Amarildo was chosen to replace in him the final group game against Spain.
Brazil needed only a draw to reach the last eight, but trailed at half-time. In the last twenty minutes, Amarildo scored two goals to turn the match around and seal his country's place in the quarter-finals. That performance was enough to keep him in the team for the rest of the tournament, as Brazil beat England and Chile to reach the final. In the final against Czechoslovakia, Brazil fell behind again and once more it was Amarildo who turned the match in their favour. He scored the equaliser with a wonderful shot from a tight angle and Brazil took control from then on, scoring twice in the second half to retain their title with a 3-1 win.
Amarildo would later admit to having felt considerable pressure when replacing Pelé, knowing that if Brazil had failed he would most likely have taken the blame. Having thrived under the pressure, his career really took off. After helping Botafogo to retain the Rio state title later in 1962, he travelled with the team to Europe to play in an invitational club tournament in Paris. Despite letting slip a 2-0 lead, Botafogo beat Racing Club de Paris 3-2 thanks to Amarildo's winning goal.
Shortly after that competition, he earned a transfer to European champions AC Milan. Early in his first season he scored twice as Milan beat Santos 4-2 in the first leg of the Intercontinental Cup, although Santos ultimately took the title after a play-off. Like many Brazilian players who moved to Europe at the time, his international career faltered and he won just 24 caps in total, the last coming in 1966 as he missed out on a place in Brazil's World Cup squad.
In total Amarildo spent four years with Milan, his time at the club unfortunately falling between periods of great success at either end of the 1960s. He came closest to winning the Serie A title in 1965, as Milan stumbled during the final weeks of the season and missed out to rivals Internazionale, but played an important part in the club's success in the 1967 Coppa Italia, scoring the only goal in the final against Padova.
That final proved to be Amarildo's last match for Milan, as he left that summer to join Fiorentina. Being used more as a playmaker than a goalscorer, Amarildo won the only league title of his time in Italy in 1969, as Fiorentina came out on top after a tight championship race with Cagliari and his old club Milan. The club failed to retain their title in 1970, finishing only fifth, and Amarildo moved on again to AS Roma where he spent two years before falling out of favour and deciding to return to Brazil.
He joined Vasco da Gama, playing a minor role in the club's league title success of 1974, but following knee surgery during that year he made the decision to retire from playing. Almost immediately Amarildo began a coaching career, working first with the youth team of Fiorentina and then fufilling the same role at Botafogo. After a short spell with lower league site Sorso in Italy, he moved to Tunisia to coach Espérance, where during three years in charge he led the club to the league title in 1985 and the cup a year later.
After several more jobs in the lower leagues in Italy and a spell with Fiorentina as assistant manager, Amarildo went to the United Arab Emirates where he led Al Ain to the league title in 1993. He also worked in Qatar and spent some time living back in Florence, before returning home to Brazil again in 2007. Early the following year, Amarildo was appointed coach of America FC in Rio, but was remarkably sacked after just one week in charge following a defeat in his first match.
References (all accessed 23 November 2012):
- Published on Friday, 23 November 2012 17:51