Brazil has been wearing their iconic canary yellow and green shirts with blue shorts and white socks for over 50 years. They've won a record five World Cups in those colors, propelling that yellow and green shirt to international fame as one of the most recognizable in all of sports. But the design only came about through a national competition held after it was decided that their then standard white kit with blue trim had to be forgotten in the aftermath of Brazil losing the 1950 World Cup at home to Uruguay. And the winning design that has lasted all these years was submitted by a Uruguay fan.
Uruguay's 2-1 win over Brazil in the final match of the 1950 World Cup at the Maracana was an unthinkable national tragedy played out in front of 200,000 people in the stadium. It was the first World Cup held after a 12-year break surrounding World War II and it was supposed to be the first time Brazil ever won it.
The devastation of having victory snatched away in their own country had a lasting effect. It was still being mourned three years later when the decision to scrap the white kit was made and a newspaper sponsored competition was opened to the public to find a new design. The winner was 19-year-old Aldyr Garcia Schlee, who was born on the Brazilian side of the country's border with Uruguay and became a fan of their tiny tormentors as a result of that 1950 win.
In the video above you can see Schlee's original sketches that evolved into the current design. As a reward for his successful efforts, Schlee was invited to live with the team in Rio de Janeiro for a period, but didn't like the players' "off field antics" and went home. Wearing a variation of the strip designed by Schlee, Brazil went on to win their first World Cup in 1958 with a little help from a 17-year-old Pele, who was the tournament's youngest ever player at the time.
Now almost 80 years old, Schlee is a journalist and author who was imprisoned multiple times in the 1960s by the Brazilian military government for his dissenting views. Though Schlee will be surrounded by millions of his countrymen wearing the colors of his design during the 2014 World Cup, he will be rooting for Uruguay.
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