Brazil's 1958 SWC skipper dies

SWC trophy (File)
SWC trophy (File)

Rio de Janeiro - Hilderaldo Luiz Bellini, the captain of Brazil's first Soccer World Cup-winning team, died on Thursday aged 83 after a long illness, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said.

The central defender, who had been battling Alzheimer's disease for a decade, died in a Sao Paulo hospital three years after he suffered a stroke which left him unable to speak.

The CBF declared three days of mourning in honor of Bellini, who will be buried on Friday in his home city of Itapira, in Sao Paulo state.

"Brazilian football and its fans are in mourning following the death of someone who made a great captain," CBF President Jose Maria Marin said.

"I had the chance to get to know him while he was at Sao Paulo, where he was an excellent defender, a gentleman and a true professional."

Brazilian football historian Juca Kfouri credits Bellini with being the first World Cup skipper to lift the trophy high into the air following Brazil's victory in 1958 in Sweden. The gesture has become an integral part of the winning ceremony.

A 1960 statue of Bellini, who won 51 caps for his country, shows him holding the original Jules Rimet trophy aloft - one-handed - outside the Maracana Stadium.

After starring alongside a teenage Pele in Sweden, Bellini won the trophy again in Chile four years later although he was by then only a bit part squad member.

At club level the son of an Italian truck driver made his name with Vasco da Gama and Sao Paulo.

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