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Ademir Menezes, Star of 1950 World Cup, Dies of Cancer

May 13, 1996

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Ademir Menezes, a star of the Brazilian team that lost the 1950 World Cup final to Uruguay, has died of cancer, hospital officials said. He was 74.

Menezes died late Saturday night at Rio’s Saint Lucas Hospital after an 11-month battle with bone cancer.

Menezes began his 12-year career in 1941 with Sport of Recife in northeastern Brazil. During an exhibition tour of Rio, his sprinter’s speed and masterly skills caught the eye of local scouts, and he was signed by club team Vasco da Gama.

With Menezes, Vasco won four Rio de Janeiro state titles and the South American Cup of Champions in 1948. His only other club was Rio’s Fluminense, where he won another state title in 1946.

But Menezes was at his best on the Brazilian national team. In 41 games he scored 35 goals, fourth on Brazil’s all-time scoring list behind Pele, Zico and Tostao.

``He was an almost perfect player,″ recalled former national team coach Zeze Moreira. ``He shot well with either foot and was an excellent header.″

The 1950 World Cup in Brazil was the high point of his career. Menezes scored nine goals, the most by any Brazilian player in a World Cup. But the feat was overshadowed by Brazil’s stunning 2-1 loss to Uruguay in the final.

Flavio Costa, who coached the 1950 Cup team, called Menezes ``a great player who could do anything without a problem. He was an extraordinary scorer.″

Menezes retired in 1953. In recent years he wrote a soccer column for a Rio newspaper.

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