On July 17, 1994, exactly 26 years ago, the Brazilian soccer squad won its fourth FIFA World Cup title in an exciting match against Italy, which went to a penalty shootout after an 0-0 tie in both regular time and overtime. During the title celebration, still on the pitch, the players paid tribute to three-time F1 world champion Ayrton Senna by holding up a banner that read, “Senna… We’ve sped up together. The fourth title is ours”
When the Brazilian driver took the ceremonial kick-off at a friendly match between Brazil and PSG, in Paris, on April 20, 1994 , he greeted all the players and wished they’d win the World Cup title. The whole squad returned the Brazilian’s wishes, since he was competing in the 1994 F1 season.
As a PSG idol and the Brazilian squad’s captain in the friendly match, former player Raí talked to Senna TV about the homages in honor of Ayrton soon after his fatal crash.
“Our group was very touched by everything that happened. It was an united and focused group, we knew what we wanted, we knew we had to put Brazil again in first place”, said Raí. “So I think there are many similarities with Ayrton’s universe, and that’s why that tribute fit so well within that context. It had a lot to do with his spirit, the way he faced the sport – and us as well, as world champions”, he added.
Senna was going through a difficult time at Williams after retiring from the Brazilian GP at Interlagos when he was in second place and, soon after, crashing at the start of the Pacific GP, in Japan, on April 17, when he also didn’t finish the race.
Despite that, the Brazilian was expected to recover those points at the San Marino GP, where he suffered the accident. Senna’s story moved all Brazilians, including the soccer squad, which was inspired by Ayrton’s dedication and perseverance to win its fourth world title.
“All those great athletes weren’t just great athletes. They were great men, you know? Not just athletes. I know a lot of people who earn a little money and become insufferable. But he was an idol and a simple man. A regular guy. A guy who liked Brazil, who loved his country. And there’s something I always say about that title. People say there were 22 players in the squad. I think Senna was the 23rd”, explained Ricardo Rocha to Senna TV.
In the week in which the fourth championship completes 26 years, a series of livestreams was held with the players who participated in the historic achievement in the USA for a chat about the relationship between the title, the players and Ayrton Senna. Striker Bebeto talked about the inspiration that Senna brought to the team.
“We had to win this championship. Not only for us, but to be able to give joy to all Ayrton fans, who was the guy who inspired the team, who inspired us all. He was a very dedicated guy and he was very determined, very focused on his goals. And another thing: patriotism in his veins. He loved the Brazilian people and the Brazilian people loved him too. So it was an opportunity that could have been our last and we had to win that title. To give this joy and to be dedicating to Ayrton Senna”, said Bebeto.
“The Brazilian team at the World Cup and Ayrton Senna on the track, there was no better combination”, recalled Carlos Alberto Parreira, coach of the national team in 1994.
Take a look back at the relationship between Senna and the national soccer squad on Senna TV: