160,000 watched England play at the Maracana on this day.
An England match on this day was watched by an estimated 160,000 fans inside the stadium.
It was the first of a four-match tour undertaken by Walter Winterbottom’s side in May 1959 and the opposition could hardly have been more difficult – Brazil, the reigning World Champions, in the Maracana!
The precocious Pele was in Brazil’s line-up, but Julinho was controversially chosen instead of Garrincha. But Julinho, the Palmeiras winger, quickly justified his selection by opening the scoring after just three minutes.
Then he earned more applause by thumping another shot against the post, as England struggled to stay afloat.
The skilful Brazilians emphasised their superiority with a second goal on 28 minutes, Julinho putting Henrique through to beat Bolton ‘keeper Eddie Hopkinson from close range.
England hit back with a Bobby Charlton shot that crashed against Gilmar’s post and a Johnny Haynes effort that drew a brilliant stop from the same ‘keeper – but it finished 2-0 to Brazil and four days later Peru beat us 4-1 in Lima.
The attendance in Rio is still the highest for any England match. The lowest is 200 for a match with Wales at Kennington Oval in 1879. Well, it was