So impressed, or possibly concerned, was the English Football Association with the way Brazil played at the 1950 World Cup that they set up a technical committee to examine Brazilian training methods.
They met just once and decided to take no further action. Eight years later, Brazil won the first of their four World titles. In 1997, football coach and Middlesbrough fan Simon Clifford did what the FA should have done and went to see for himself how the Brazilians do it.
What he discovered is now helping, at last, to transform the game in England. Clifford's book, Play the Brazilian Way, first explodes the myth that football skills are learned and developed on the streets and beaches of Brazil, or that their kids are born good. Actually, they can be snapped up by clubs or soccer schools at age six, from which point they train for up to 20 hours a week to improve their skills. Weight, diet and general fitness are monitored and teams of doctors, warm-up coaches, warm-down coaches and physios are on hand.
Clifford studied their methods, most importantly the unique five-a-side game "Futebol de Salao" to which most of the great Brazilian players he spoke to attribute their skills. He has since set up a Confederation of Futebol de Salao in England, and the game is beginning to sit up and take notice.
Play the Brazilian Way gives a step-by-step guide to all the skills and technical expertise inherent to Brazil's football curriculum--but beware, only hours of practice will make perfect! --Jamie Foulerton