Save Brazil's Bacon and Get Some Love

Julio Cesar, the starting goalkeeper for Brazil, is a frangueiro (chicken man). He is also a peru (turkey) and, on occasion, a mao de alface (or, roughly, lettuce hands). These are the printable euphemisms that Brazilians have for goalkeepers.

updated: June 30, 2014 14:43 IST
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Brazil Student Goalkeepers
Young soccer players train at an academy for goalkeepers, founded by Zetti, a former goalkeeper for Brazil's national team, in Sao Paulo, June 20, 2014. The public perception of goalkeepers in Brazil -- long ridiculed with unflattering terms -- improved slightly as some joined the procession of top Brazilian players to club teams in Europe. (Lalo de Almeida/The New York Times)


Sao Paulo: For years, it has gone without saying in Brazil that fathers do not let their children grow up to be goalkeepers.

This is the land, remember, of the jogo bonito, the beautiful game. It is for strikers and stylists and supermen. Attackers here are likened to legends like Pele; and Zico. But goalkeepers? They are likened to, well, poultry and produce.

That was what made Saturday so special. It was not just that the Brazilian national team beat Chile to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. It was not even that coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and his players, who know that anything less than a title will be considered a failure, are now three victories away from "reaching heaven," as Scolari said.

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