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What? Samba football comes from Southampton??

June 4, 2014

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As the World Cup in Brazil starts next week I look at the origins of the game in the host nation.

Pele, Zico, Ronaldhino and Neymar are all legendary names of Brazilian football. However, one name that stands above them all is Charles Miller.

He never donned the famous canary yellow shirt or curled balls from extraordinary angles or showed wizardry as he glided by defenders but his influence on what the world calls Brazilian football was equally important.

His story begins in Sao Paolo where he was born in 1874 to a Scottish father and a Brazilian mother. At 10 years old, his parents sent him to Southampton’s Banister Court public school in the south of England. It was here he was exposed to the game of football.

He played with his school and with the newly formed club St Marys (today it exists as Southampton FC) before returning to his homeland in 1894. When returning, he famously carried home two leather footballs and some kit.

A member of the Sao Paulo cricket team he asked a few of his teammates to play football. Their first game in 1895 against a make shift team from the local gas works was a success. However finding opposition was proving difficult.

Then In 1897, Hans Nobiling a German immigrant and ex Hamburg player after finding his attempts to play with Sao Paolo AC rebuffed, helped found SC international with other non-Anglo immigrants.

3 more clubs followed, SC Germania (a breakaway from SC international), Mackensie College (an American student team) and CA Paulistino (a team from the Brazilian elite) who all created the Liga Paulista the very first football league in Brazil.

Sao Paulo AC won the initial three championships in 1902, 03, 04 with Charles Miller as captain.

However, after a humiliating defeat (9-1) in 1906 Sao Paulo AC resigned from the league as did Charles Miller from its board of directors.

Football continued to thrive and its adoption by the general native population helped create a part of Brazilian culture that exists in all areas of Brazilian society.

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