João Saldanha

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João Saldanha
Personal information
Full name João Alves Jobin Saldanha
Date of birth (1917-07-03)3 July 1917
Place of birth Alegrete, Brazil
Date of death 12 July 1990(1990-07-12)
Place of death Rome, Italy
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
? Botafogo ?
Teams managed
1957–1959 Botafogo
1969–1970? Brazil

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

João Alves Jobin Saldanha (3 July 1917 – 12 July 1990)[1] was a Brazilian journalist and football manager. He coached the Brazil national football team during the South American Qualifying to the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Nicknamed João Sem Medo (Fearless João) by Nelson Rodrigues, Saldanha played for Botafogo. He then started a career in journalism and became one of Brazil's most prolific sports columnists. He often criticised players, managers and teams, and was a member of then-illegal Brazilian Communist Party (Partido Comunista do Brasil – PCB).[2]

In 1957, Botafogo appointed him as their coach, despite his lack of managerial experience. The club won the Rio state championship that season,[2] but Saldanha resigned from the club in 1959.[3] In 1969, he was invited to take charge of the national team, and led them to a perfect 6-0 record. It is alleged that soccer federation president João Havelange appointed him in the hope that journalists would be less critical of the national team if one of their own was in charge.[2]

Saldanha was publicly criticised by Dorival Yustrich, coach of Flamengo. Saldanha responded by confronting him while brandishing a revolver. Saldanha was said to have fallen out of favour because of his unwillingness to select players who were personal favourites of President Emilio Garrastazu Médici, in particular striker Dario (Brazil was a military dictatorship back then).[2] It is reported that Saldanha, after being told that President Médici would be pleased to see Dario in the team, answered that "well, I also have some suggestions to give in the President's ministry choices". The last straw came when the assistant manager resigned, saying that Saldanha was impossible to work with.[2] He was eventually replaced by Zagallo, who lead the team to their third victory in the 1970 World Cup.

Saldanha returned to his career in journalism and later became a critic of what he perceived as the "Europeanisation of Brazilian football"; the adoption of more defensive schemes and the loss of features such as the jogo bonito style typical of offensive playing. In an interview to TV Cultura's Roda Viva Saldanha recalled his period as coach of the national team as bittersweet, since a lot of his friends at PCB were being killed by the political repression led by President Médici. He travelled to Italy to provide the news coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup for Rede Manchete. He was debilitated due to his cigarette addiction and died in Rome on 12 July 1990, just four days after the end of the tournament.


  1. Birth/death info at[dead link]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Alex Bellos (June 2003). "Ask Alex anything about Brazilian football..." Futebol: The Brazilian way of life. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Alex Bellos (July 2003). "Ask Alex anything about Brazilian football..." Futebol: The Brazilian way of life. Archived from the original on 10 August 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>