Cafu: The Games That Changed My Life

Cafu Brazil Scotland

The World Cup-winning full-back picks out the matches that meant most to him

December 5, 1992, Palmeiras 2-4 Sao Paulo

In that match we realised we didn’t have to be afraid of anyone

It was the first leg of the Paulista state championship final, just one week before we beat Barcelona 2-1 in Japan to win the Intercontinental Cup. We won 4-2, I scored a screamer and played a part in every Sao Paulo goal. In that match we realised we didn’t have to be afraid of anyone [Sao Paulo won the second leg 2-1 after beating Barcelona]. The winning streak only ended in 1994.

March 24, 1996: Santos 0-6 Palmeiras

This was one of my greatest matches in Brazil. I scored, too. That Palmeiras team had Rivaldo, Djalminha, [Roque] Junior... I’d meet many of them in the Selecao as well. That team was unstoppable. We scored a hundred goals in less than six months. Memorable times.

June 10, 1998: Brazil 2-1 Scotland 

It was magical for me to have my name on the scoreboard

That was my first and only World Cup goal! Well, kind of... I had some Scottish help in scoring that one [Cafu’s shot hit goalkeeper Jim Leighton, bounced out onto Tom Boyd’s shoulder and rebounded in for an own goal]. But it was magical for me to have my name on the scoreboard. It was different to the 1994 World Cup, too, because I was more important to the team.

December 17, 2000: Lazio 0-1 Roma

After winning this match we were sure we were going to be Italian champions. It was also the match with my most memorable moment: a triple sombrero over the great Pavel Nedved, one of the best players in the world.

June 26, 2002: Brazil 1-0 Turkey 

Everyone talks about the World Cup final, but this match was even more tense

Everyone talks about the World Cup final, but this match was even more tense. I also played better in the game against Turkey. We’d had a very tough game against them in the group stage, but we weren’t favourites to win the tournament then; the semi-final was a totally different business.

August 2, 2004: Milan 3-2 Chelsea

It was just a friendly, but it was memorable. Jose Mourinho was beginning at Chelsea and I was finding my place at Milan. I scored and made an assist. After the match, he shook my hand and told me to run less against his team! I knew at that moment that I still had a lot more I could do in football.

1:10 for Cafu's beauty

This feature originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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