Revisiting the brilliant Brazil XI that beat England at the 2002 World Cup

·7-min read
Brazil's Ronaldinho and Ronaldo plead to the referee during a World Cup Finals quarter final match against England in Shizuoka, June 21, 2002. Credit: PA Images
Brazil's Ronaldinho and Ronaldo plead to the referee during a World Cup Finals quarter final match against England in Shizuoka, June 21, 2002. Credit: PA Images

On June 21, 2002, England were famously beaten 2-1 by Brazil in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

England actually took the lead in Shizuoka through Michael Owen, but they could not hold on and were eventually pegged back by a slick Rivaldo goal and Ronaldinho’s famous free-kick which caught out David Seaman.

Brazil went on to defeat Turkey and Germany on their way to lifting the trophy, and we’ve revisited their XI from the England game to see what they went on to achieve.

GK: Marcos

A stalwart for Palmeiras, for whom he made over 500 appearances in a 20-year spell for the club, Marcos only won 29 caps for Brazil between 1999-2005, but he played in every game of their World Cup triumph.

Arsenal agreed a deal to sign Marcos in January 2003, only for the goalkeeper to turn down a move to stay with Palmeiras, who had just been relegated to the second tier of Brazilian football.

He finally called it a day in 2012, with Palmeiras retiring his No.12 shirt, and he’s now an ambassador at the club.

Marcos also launched a beer brand, imaginatively called 12. We’ve tasted it. It’s pretty shit.

CB: Roque Junior

A solid member of Brazil’s back three in 2002, Roque Junior is best remembered in England for a calamitous spell at Leeds which ended in relegation.

Plenty of Leeds fans were excited by the arrival of a World Cup and Champions League winner, but in his seven appearances, the Whites conceded 24 goals.

The defender went on to play for six more clubs, and following a couple of jobs in management, he worked as sporting director at Brazilian club Ferroviaria up until December 2019. He is now a pundit on the Brazilian TV channel Globo.

Germany's Christoph Kramer after getting injured in the 2014 World Cup final v Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. Credit: PA Images
Germany's Christoph Kramer after getting injured in the 2014 World Cup final v Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. Credit: PA Images

READ: 9 players we still can’t believe played in a World Cup final

CB: Lucio

Now we’re talking. A bona-fide legend of the Brazil team, Lucio won 105 caps for his country, three league titles with Bayern Munich and a treble with Inter.

“He doesn’t have great feet, but he defends well,” king of the compliments Jose Mourinho said of Lucio, who announced his retirement in January 2020 at the age of 41.

CB: Edmilson

An often overlooked figure for Brazil and Barcelona, Edmilson was always a dependable presence whether operating in defence or midfield.

After winning two league titles and the Champions League with Barca, his career petered out with short-lived spells at Villarreal, Palmeiras, Zaragoza and Ceara.

Since then he has worked in Brazilian television and runs a children’s charity called Fundacao Edmilson.

We’ll never forget his overhead kick against Costa Rica.

RWB: Cafu

The most capped Brazil player of all time, the captain of the World Cup-winning side and one of the best right-backs ever, Cafu was given even more license to bomb forward as a wing-back in 2002 as he played in his third-consecutive final.

“If there is one man who has made sacrifices and lent himself to the cause of the Brazil team, this man is Cafu,” Luiz Felipe Scolari said. “He has been my commander on the field.”

Since retiring in 2008, Cafu has left football to pursue business interests – but he had his assets frozen in 2020 after allegedly acting as an ambassador for a crypto pyramid scheme. Lovely.

CM: Gilberto Silva

Brazil is hardly associated with defensive midfielders, but Gilberto Silva played a crucial role in 2002, anchoring the midfield to allow the more creative players run riot in attack.

His performances at the World Cup led to a move to Arsenal, where he obviously made an impression on Arsene Wenger.

“He is, for me, class,” Wenger said. “Modesty, humility, on a human front a top-class person. He was ready to sacrifice himself for the team.”

Since retiring Gilberto has helped set up a players’ union in Brazil and also has a giant anteater named after him in London Zoo, which means he is now our favourite footballer.

CM: Kleberson

Like Roque Junior, another curious case who fans in England cannot believe won a World Cup. Kleberson became the first ever Brazilian to play for Manchester United and was signed at the same time as Cristiano Ronaldo.

When asked what went wrong for the midfielder at Old Trafford in 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson replied: “[He] paid too much attention to what his wife wanted.”

To his credit, just when everyone thought Kleberson’s career was over, he returned to Brazil to win the title with Flamengo and was even named in the squad for the 2010 World Cup.

He finished his playing career with Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL before rejoining the Philadelphia Union as a youth coach.

In July 2022, he was named assistant manager of Manchester City’s sister club New York City FC. If he does a good job there, we might even see him back in Manchester one day.

LWB: Roberto Carlos

With Cafu on one flank, Brazil completed the pair of possibly the greatest wing-backs of all time with Roberto Carlos and his intimidatingly huge thighs.

“His left leg seems to be made of iron,” Jaap Stam once commented on the left-back, whose post-retirement foray into management has not gone to plan with Sivasspor, Akhisar Belediyespor or the Delhi Dynamos.

He very briefly came out of retirement in 2022 to play for Shropshire Sunday League team Bull in the Barne United. No, we’re not joking…

Roberto Carlos (centre) poses for photographs with Bull In The Barne United players at the Hanwood Village Hall Recreation Centre, Shrewsbury. Friday March 4, 2022. Credit: PA Images
Roberto Carlos (centre) poses for photographs with Bull In The Barne United players at the Hanwood Village Hall Recreation Centre, Shrewsbury. Friday March 4, 2022. Credit: PA Images

READ: I saw Roberto Carlos play Sunday league… and it was gloriously sh*t

Ronaldinho

Kicking off the devastating frontline of the ‘Three Rs’, Ronaldinho’s 2002 World Cup campaign will always be remembered for his audacious free-kick which caught out David Seaman in the quarter-final.

It is often forgotten he was actually sent off in that game, missing the semi-final through suspension before returning for the final.

One of the most entertaining footballers of all time, Ronaldinho did not actually officially announce his retirement until January 2018, two and a half years after he’d last played for Fluminense.

He’s since spent time in prison in Paraguay accused of entering the country with a fake Paraguayan passport and, according to reports in Brazil, was planning to marry two women at the same time in a ceremony in 2018.

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

READ: Of course Ronaldinho meant to chip David Seaman – he’s Ronaldinho

Rivaldo

One of the more experienced Brazil players at the World Cup, Rivaldo enjoyed a brilliant tournament, scoring five times, including the equaliser against England.

A star at Barcelona in his pomp, Rivaldo has remarkably outlasted many of his team-mates from 2012. He spent two years in Uzbekistan, playing for a club apparently controlled by the popstar daughter of the Uzbek dictator, and was still scoring for Brazilian minnows Mogi Mirim – alongside his own son, no less – in 2015.

He also served as president of Mogi Mirim but was accused of appropriating the club’s two training grounds and of receiving money that was owed to the club resulting from a partnership with an Uzbek company directly into his personal bank account. He denied the claims. The club has since gone to the wall.

Ronaldo

O Fenomeno. Ronaldo may have already suffered two debilitating knee injuries by this point in his career, but he was still capable of being the most thrilling striker in the world.

Eight goals at the World Cup, including two in the final, brought him level with Pele’s record of 12, which he went on to break four years later.

Persistent fitness issues continued to dog Ronaldo for the rest of his career, but still, what a player.

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

READ: The rise of Ronaldo in Brazil: ‘It was as if he had come from the moon’

More Brazil

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Ze Elias: Ronaldo told Mancini, ‘Keep quiet, I’ll give you my autograph after’

Rivaldo: The story of a great player in a not-so-great Barcelona team

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