Vol. 5 Num 382 Fri. June 24, 2005  

Zico's most Emotional evening

Former Brazil playmaker Zico said it was an emotional experience to lead Japan against the country of his birth in the Confederations Cup on Wednesday.

"It was a very nice, emotional thing to be up against Brazil," Japan coach Zico told reporters after the 2-2 draw.

"When I heard the national anthem my heart was pounding. I was always on their side and now I'm with the opposition.

"I've listened to this anthem since I was a kid at school and I played in that shirt for 10 years," said Zico, 52.

"I know other people have been in the same situation but I wouldn't wish the experience on anyone else. When you have such strong roots as I do with Brazil it's much harder."

Within four minutes of the kick-off, Zico's blood was boiling as Japan's Akira Kaji was denied a goal by an offside decision that appeared marginal at best.

"My brother always used to say that a goal can change history," said Zico.

"Mistakes only seem to happen in favour of the big team. Everyone in the stadium saw that the goal was onside but the assistant raised his flag."

Zico played in three World Cups for Brazil and is remembered as one of the finest players ever produced by the world's most successful footballing nation.