The ninth FIFA World Cup TM also became a major TV spectacle and to fit in with television company requests, some matches kicked off at 12 noon. This was an unpopular decision with many players and managers because of the intense heat in Mexico at that time of day.

There was none of the violence throughout the tournament that had plagued the two previous competitions. The 1970 FIFA World Cup passed without a single player being sent off, equalling the 1950 FIFA World Cup record. For the first time substitutes were allowed, as well as yellow and red cards being introduced.

Pelé returned after vowing never to play in another FIFA World Cup and Brazil won the Jules Rimet trophy outright with a near-perfect team including Clodoaldo, Gerson, Rivelino, Tostao, Jairzinho, Pelé and Carlos Alberto.

In the final at Mexico City's Aztec Stadium, Brazil dazzled and danced to a memorable 4-1 win over Italy with Jairzinho becoming the only player to have scored in every match. Italy had beaten West Germany 4-3 in an astonishing semi-final, the only match in FIFA World Cup history to have produced five goals in extra time.

Brazil carry off their third victory

There were three big winners in the 1970 FIFA World Cup: the Brazilians naturally, and their king, Pelé, victors for the third time after 1958 and 1962 but also football itself, with many games and individual feats entering football legend.

Those who had been dissatisfied with the standard of play during the 1966 FIFA World Cup had nothing to complain about four years later in Mexico, where "the beautiful game" was really seen in all its glory. Three of the game's all-time greatest matches were played to huge and rapturous crowds: England vs. Brazil, England vs. West Germany and a simply sensational semi-final between Italy and West Germany. And nobody will ever forget Pelé and his glorious attempt to lob the Czech goalkeeper Viktor from 50 metres out!

Then, just to top things off, the Brazilians, the tournament's most spectacular team, with their unforgettable front-line of Jairzinho, Tostao, Pelé and Rivelino, ran out winners. For this ninth FIFA World Cup, the number of participating nations was again at a new high, with 75 teams entering for the qualifying rounds. And many nations well-grounded in FIFA World Cup experience did not make it past the qualifiers, including Portugal, Hungary, France, Spain and even Argentina. Israel and Morocco, however, made their debuts.

Beckenbauer's courage

The Moroccans, who became the first African Confederation representative (CAF founded 1957) to qualify for the finals (the first African finalist, Egypt in 1934, had qualified without playing a single match), were one of the star attractions of the first round along with Peru. The Peruvians, in fact, reached the quarter-finals where they held their own gamely against Brazil before finally going down 4-2. But THE match of the quarter-finals pitted the two 1966 finalists England and West Germany. Two-nil down with 20 minutes to go, the Germans miraculously fought back to win 3-2 in extra-time. But a fiercer and even more nerve-racking struggle awaited the Germans in the semi-final against Italy in the brand new Aztec stadium, built especially for the FIFA World Cup.

After 90 minutes the two teams were locked at 1-1. What followed in extra-time has entered football folklore, with both teams leading at different times in a heart-stopping battle. Franz Beckenbauer remained on the field even with a dislocated shoulder, his arm in a sling strapped to his body. His courage, however, was not to be rewarded, as it was finally the Italians who had their way (4-3), and reached the final. There, a tired Squadra Azzurra could do nothing to stop the rampant Brazilians, who coasted to a 4-1 win. Carlos Alberto, the "Carioca" captain, stepped up to receive the Jules Rimet trophy, which would remain forever in Brazilian hands. Pelé, in tears, was carried triumphantly on his team-mates' shoulders. He had not only won his third FIFA World Cup winner's medal, but also played his last match in a FIFA World Cup.