Vasco return to Brazil top flight

RIO DE JANEIRO - Vasco da Gama, one of Brazil's most popular and successful clubs, sealed their promotion back to the top flight with four matches to spare on Saturday.

The recovery of the club from the northern districts of Rio de Janeiro from a controversial period that ended in last year's relegation follows the takeover as president by Roberto Dinamita.

Fans and players feted Roberto, a striker who played for Brazil at the 1978 and 1982 World Cups, after the 2-1 win over Juventude in front of a crowd of 80,000, a record for the season, at the Maracana.

A huge banner displayed by fans said "Thank you", but Roberto, said: "The players deserve congratulations. They're the ones who made this moment possible."

Roberto won the club's presidential election last year, ousting former government deputy Eurico Miranda, who had been the strong man inside the club since the early 1980s.

Founded by members of the Portuguese community in 1898, Vasco da Gama Boat Club have won the Brazilian championship four times since it was inaugurated in 1971.


They reached the pinnacle in their centenary year when they were crowned South American champions with victory in the Libertadores Cup.

However, since their last national title in 2000, the team had suffered on the pitch during Miranda's controversial tenure.

"Eurico, second division, history will not forgive", read another banner shown by Vasco fans against the former president who also made many enemies in the media by banning reporters from training sessions.

Just as they were inspired off the pitch by Roberto, so 24-year-old midfielder Carlos Alberto was their inspiration on it having overcome personal problems.

Carlos Alberto was 19 when he became the youngest player to score in a European Champions League final for Jose Mourinho's title-winning Porto side in 2004 but was unsettled in Portugal and returned home.

He scored Saturday's promotion-clinching goal through a 70th-minute penalty that leaves Vasco 13 points clear in the promotion places with four matches to go.