During the 1962 World Cup in Chile, Brazil were based in Viña del Mar, where all of their group-stage fixtures were scheduled. But they trained and took part in warm-up matches in Valparaíso, a colourful, architectural hodgepodge of a port and home to one of Pablo Neruda’s residences.
The location of those sessions was the Estadio de la Compañía Chilena de Tabacos, a stadium built by the company of the same name for their workers based in the city. It served as a Sunday meeting place. The workers would play football, while their wives gossiped over picnics and their children frolicked amongst the nearby jacarandas and palm trees.
The visit of Brazil in 1962 left an impression on those who were fortunate enough to see them in action. “I was a kid and my friends and I went to watch Pelé, Garrincha. It was a real spectacle,” remembers Luis Zamora, later a gardener in the adjacent Jardín Suiza. “The pitch was like a pool table. It was so well-maintained.”
Pelé entrenando en el Estadio de la Compañía Chilena de Tabacos de Valparaiso en 1962. pic.twitter.com/QhW3QaZOYP
— FranciscoDarmendrail (@FcoDarmendral) 9 February 2018
The photograph above supports his claims. The pitch is crisp and clean and provides vibrant contrast for the bright yellow and two-tone blue of Pelé’s kit. Groups of well-dressed onlookers gather in the background. There is a clear sense of time and place.
The stadium no longer exists. It was sold to the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in the late 1990s. In 2013, the land in which it stood was purchased by the investment consortium behind the controversial Parque Pümpin development, which is currently paralysed following dogged demonstrations from local residents.
But the stadium still lives on in the memories of those who once gathered there.