Eduardo Goncalves de Andrade
Full name: Eduardo Goncalves de Andrade
Date of birth: 25 January 1947 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Clubs: 1962-1963: America. 1963-1972: Cruzeiro. 1972-1973: Vasco da Gama. Honours: 1966: Brazilian league and cup winner. 1967: Brazilian player of the year. 1970: FIFA World Cup™ winner. 1971: South American player of the year. 1972: Brazilian player of the year. 65 caps and 36 goals for Brazil.
Miscellaneous: Tostao scored 249 goals in 378 appearances for Cruzeiro. He ended his career in 1973 at the age of 26 due to an eye injury. He then studied medicine and worked as a doctor. He is now a full-time sports journalist and writer.
The “White King”, footballer turned writer
Brazilian Tostao was one of the best forwards of his era but was forced to end his career at the age of just 26 due to an eye injury. Now 61, he is a respected columnist and writer.
Little more than a decade was all Tostao needed to make his mark on football. Blessed with abundant talent, refined technique, great vision and elegance, his crowning moment came at the 1970 FIFA World Cup™. Wearing number 9, he was a valuable member of Brazil’s legendary front line alongside Jairzinho (7), Rivelino (11), Gerson (8) and Pele (10) under coach Mario Zagallo. This was the high point in the footballing career of Eduardo Goncalves de Andrade, better known as Tostao, who left his mark on the sport for ever after excelling as a centre-forward at Mexico ’70.
Three years later, he was forced to hang up his boots due to an eye complaint: “I couldn’t play football any more, not even with my friends. Now I’m 61,1 can play even less than I did before,” he says with a smile.
Tostao was the “White King” of Brazilian football. “I got that nickname after a historic final against Pele’s team Santos, but really there was no reason for it. I just played well, nothing more,” he says modestly. He is considered an idol in the country with the most FIFA World Cup™ titles thanks to his magic and his achievements in the colours of Cruzeiro, becoming the club’s top scorer with 249 strikes in his nine years at the club from Belo Horizonte.
He made his debut at the age of 16, won the state championship five times and won the national championship in a memorable final against Santos. These days, Tostao still lives close to Belo Horizonte in an area called Nova Lima and watches, analyses and commentates on football for a living. “I write newspaper columns and I also commentate for television. I like to watch everything on television rather than go to the stadium because you can see more details,” he says.
“I AM COMFORTABLE”
Despite becoming a medical doctor after his enforced retirement due to health problems, his life now revolves around football: “I try to watch a lot of matches every day.” And medicine? “I worked for many years, 20 or so, and I even taught at the university. Then I got tired of it and stopped practising some time ago. Now I’m fully dedicated to football.” Tostao’s knowledge is immediately apparent in every one of his columns and in the highly analytical and detailed manner in which he talks, not only about Brazilian teams but also the different national teams. He also embellishes his opinions with comments such as “Luiz Felipe Scolari, the coach who achieved the best ever combination of technical and tactical knowledge with observation, boldness, emotion, affection, paternalism and a firm and confident command. Felipao, who praised the dictator Pinochet, also heeded the words of Che Guevara: ‘You need to be tough without ever losing your tenderness’. Some historians believe that Che sent many people to their deaths, like Pinochet, in order to fight for the revolution. It’s the contradiction inherent in humanity.”
What kind of a life does this former global football star lead today? “My private life is very enjoyable, very nice. I am comfortable and I enjoy reading and travelling.” Like many players from his era, does he not get nostalgic when he sees the football of today? “I know that it has changed a lot, it’s more tactical, it’s played at greater speed, there’s more marking, everything is more studied, harder. In the past it was more attractive. The style changed, with some advantages and other disadvantages. But for me, the most important thing is that the players’ skill prevails over tactics. It is not just about running, it goes beyond that. The teams with the most talent are the best. That said, these days you can’t get by on talent alone, you need tactical discipline, physical preparation, a good squad. Fortunately, quality is still the most important thing of all,” says the former Brazilian star.
CHANGES ALL THE TIME
Tostao speaks with conviction as he describes the different footballing eras but without the anger that is apparent in many who are romantic about the past. As an analyst, he understands the new rules that have been introduced. It is clear that he likes talking about football. How significant was that memorable team from Mexico ’70? “I was part of that generation and it was perhaps one of the great sides in history. Together with the one that was at Sweden ’58, it was without doubt one of the best of all time,” is his verdict. He is still a great friend of former team-mate Piazza. “We are friends, it helps a lot that we live close to one another in Belo Horizonte. The others are in Rio and Sao Paulo, it’s more difficult.”
Which national team is currently the best? “To be honest none of them particularly stand out or play brilliant football. It’s very equal. Italy won the FIFA World Cup™ and deserved it, but they are on the same level as Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France … there are eight national teams with a very similar level.” And who is currently the world’s best player? “It changes all the time, the best player now will change in six months. At the moment, for example, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi are the three who stand out for me. A while ago it was Ronaldinho, before that it was Ronaldo and Zidane. The players I have liked the most in the last decade are Zidane and Ronaldinho, they were phenomenal.”