Jairzinho, marked for life by Marseille

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White suit jacket, daring tie, flared trousers and mop of hair à la Jackson Five… For discretion, we’ll come back. In an atmosphere of American disco clip, Jairzinho settled in Marseille on October 16, 1974, welcomed with great fanfare by hundreds of supporters and journalists on the tarmac of Marignane airport.

After a first resounding blow with the signing of Paulo César in August, OM offered themselves the services of King Pelé’s first valet for eighteen months when the Seleçao were crowned at the 1970 World Cup. had just spent thirteen years in the Botafogo jersey. His nickname, little Jair, was given to him to distinguish him from Jair da Rosa Pinto, goleador of the 1940s and 1950s.

“The Marseille president at the time, Fernand Méric, was very fond of Brazilian football, remembers the one who now lives near Rio. My way of playing too. I was coming to the end of my contract, so everything was done very quickly. It was a big challenge, a highlight for me”

10,000 fans at his first practice

Orphan of Josip Skoblar and Roger Magnusson, OM are opening a new chapter, carried by their new stars, the first two world champions to land in France. “Paulo César is my brother, says the former right winger. We experienced a lot of great things together, with Botafogo and the Seleçao. Marseilles wanted me; then, Paulo took his phone and asked me to join him. He even came here, to Rio, to convince me. »

Jairzinho and his compatriot Paulo César on joining OM were the first two world champions to play in France. (Pam Martins/The Team)

At OM, the two great friends have a blast: “Marseille invited its supporters to my first training session, there were more than 10,000! exclaims Jairzinho. The proximity to the public gave me total confidence. » The pair of forwards was quick to send chills to the stadium. Lined up on the Friday following his arrival, October 18, 1974, Jairzinho unlocked his counter against Monaco (4-1), Paulo César scored twice.

“We were really very complementary. We had been world champions together, says the Brazilian. I knew his game by heart, his qualities and his faults. We found ourselves with our eyes closed. It was easy for us to play our best football in Marseille. »

“OM remain my second favorite team”

As a good living living in the heart of the Marseille city, Jairzinho seduces. Twelfth the previous season, OM found their colors with the Marius Trésor-Victor Zvunka wall behind, their Auriverde duo in front. A slack at the end of the season will however leave Saint-Étienne, “the best French team at the time”, jump to the title.

In the Coupe de France, the course of the Marseillais stops in the quarters against PSG (2-2, 2-0). Jair’s too. At the end of the return match, on May 13, 1975 at the Parc des Princes, a general fight broke out. Jairzinho is accused of assaulting a touch referee by the Professional Football Association (the former LFP), which suspends him for one year (plus one suspended).

Forty-seven years later, the Brazilian remains evasive about his failed outing: “I don’t understand what happened. The public did not see, television did not show pictures. It’s a pity that it happened like this… I couldn’t continue to play in France. I was sad because Marseille was like my second city. OM remain my second favorite team. » Just after Botafogo.

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