Exclusive Interview with Brazil's Professor Julio Mazzei

If you followed soccer in America in the early 80's then the name Professor Julio Mazzei would be a quite familiar one.
In 1980 Professor Mazzei was the head coach of the Cosmos.  Although he left the team later that same year, he returned in 1982 and led the Cosmos to another Eastern Division title with a record of 23 wins and 9 losses.  Professor Mazzei  has been one of the closest friends as well as a mentor to Pele during the early years and to this day.  Prof. Mezzei and Pele have collaborated on several soccer related business projects.  In an excluve interview below Professor Mezzei tells us what it is America must due to elevate the level of awareness of the sport and increase participation here in the states. He also provides us with his observation of the current Brazilian national team.  He explains why the team's form has been fading in recent months and what he believe they must do in order to win an unprecedented 5th World Cup title.

Q: In your opinion what does the US have to do to increase spectatorship, and the technical level of soccer in America?
A: I think that first to gain audience support there must be quality players. The players must also be able to improve level of play. One problem I see not only in America but elsewhere, is the constant changing of head coaches. It is difficult to develope cohesion between players when the coaches change frequently as each new coach brings their own tactical methods to the team. However with the millions of boys and girls now playing in America will have a larger pool from which to develope and draw players. In that regard there is much  potential here for the sport.  America has excelled in most other sports. With the developement of a solid youth program and a continuing investment in your league the MLS (Major League Soccer) there is no reason why America cannot achieve success in soccer and do so on a world level

Q: It is widely known that you were a personal trainer and confidant of  Pele for many years. What would you say is the key to his greatest?
A: In terms of Pele, the person, Pele is the same boy today that he was when he arived at Santos club. He came to a Santos training session with his father who was also a soccer player and asked to join the team.The coach at first asked how can this 17 year old boy play with Santos a first division team? But Pele's father insisted that his son be given a chance to prove himself which we all know he eventually did. On the other hand, Pele's mother who is a real angel did not want her son to play soccer.  She never went to see him play fearing that she would see him get hurt.  Instead she wanted Pele to become a doctor.  She never went to a live game.

Q: Why do so many people to this day consider Pele to be the greatest player ever?
A:  Pele was the type of player whio had extraordinary physical skills as we well as intelligence.  Not many people are aware that  he has an  IQ over 160. He had a sense of where each player was during the game and caculated where the players would be according to their movements during the game. He did not have to look at the players because he knew where they were. This is one of the reasons he could see two or three steps ahead of other players during a game.  Pele has a mind of a computer. Also Pele off the field to this day has always been a gentle and kind person.  His has always and continues to live a clean life.  So his greatness can be attributed to the type of person that he has been on as well as off the field.

Q: How do you feel Brazil will fare in the World Cup 2002 finals and what do you attribute to their lower level of play as a team these days?

A: Brazil's problem has not only been the constant changing of coaches but also the contstant change of players. In an event as inportant as the World Cup it is necessary for the same players to train and play together regularly and over a period of time.  There of course must be changes during the couse of preparing a national team but there must also be a core team. When you take a player from Italy and one Spain and others from somewhere else and put them together without training together for an important game it will be difficult to win..  To build the cohesion that it takes to win, players must train and play together often. Also, when you look at the players in general today it's very different. Many of them are not playing with the heart as they did during the time Pele was a player.

Q: What if anything would you like to achieve. 
A: I actually have two desires. One is to see Brazil win a fifth World Cup and I believe Brazil will win.
Another is to take a photo with the three greatest sports figures of our time Michael Jordan, Pele and Tiger Woods.

Sports Hall of Fame of New Jersey - Class of 1999  (Inducted May 13, 1999)

From left to right: Don Bragg, Lou Creekmur, Leon Allen "Goose" Goslin (represented by James Goslin), Debbie Meyer, Robert E. Mulcahy III, Renaldo "Skeets" Nehemiah, "Pele" (represented by Professor Julio Mazzei), Phil Simms, Frank Tripucka and the Opening of the Meadowlands Sports Complex (represented by Aubrey Lewis).