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Valdir Pereira; Soccer Star Helped Brazil Win 2 World Cups

May 15, 2001

Valdir Pereira, 72, a former Brazilian soccer star better known as Didi, died Saturday in Rio de Janeiro from multiple organ failure.

Pereira, who won World Cup medals with Brazil in 1958 and 1962, invented the "dry leaf" shot, which involved putting a spin on the ball to give the impression it was flying over the bar, but at the last moment it would drop into the goal like a dry leaf falling from a tree.

Pereira, who was recognized last year as one of the greatest players of all time, made his mark in history by scoring the first goal at the inauguration of the Maracana stadium in Rio in 1950.

During his 18-year career, from 1945 to 1963, Pereira played for eight teams, including Brazilian teams Fluminense, Botafogo and Sao Paulo and Spanish giant Real Madrid.

After retiring as a player, Pereira took up coaching. In 1970, he led the Peruvian national team to its first World Cup finals in Mexico. He later coached River Plate in Argentina and Fenerbahce in Turkey, as well as several teams in Brazil.

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