Saturday 15 January 2022

The Legend of Filho Maravilha

Joao Batista de Sales, the Footballer “Filho Maravilha”

On January 15, 1972, Jorge Ben, the famed Brazilian musician was watching a friendly match at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Benfica, the Portuguese side were getting the better of their hosts Flamengo F.C.

The local  fans began to chant for "Filho Maravilho", the nom de guerre of Joao Batista de Sales. Mario Zagalo, the coach of Flamengo who as a player had been twice a winner of the FIFA World Cup and who steered Brazil to victory in the 1970 World Cup, relented. 

Maravilha came on and won the match for Flamengo with a goal of such exquisite beauty that Ben was inspired to compose the tune which contained the line: “With another touch he dribbled the goalkeeper, but his humbleness did not allow him to enter the goal with the ball.”

Flamengo won the match 1-0 goal, and the legend of Filho Maravilha was born.

But there was soon conflict between player and songwriter. De Sales’ lawyers filed a legal complaint resulting in Ben changing the title to Fio Maravilha. Later, the player relented and told Ben that the misunderstanding had come not from him, but from his lawyers.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2021).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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