On this day, it actually was with a Brazilian XI arriving in north London for a match honouring the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. The programme notes the ties between the club and country forged fifteen years or so previously during two tours of the South American country.
The Brazilian squad for this match was originally composed of players drawn from Santos and Vasco de Gama. Acccording to the programme, Brazilian FA and future FIFA President, Joao Havelange was unable to persuade the two clubs to fulfil this tour; “No one was more disappointed” is how the feelings of Havelange were described. With five league matches in less than a fortnight, it was surprising that anyone actually entertained the notion that either club would be involved.
The outcome was that Arsenal won 2 – 0 and as far as I can ascertain, none of the Brazilians from Corinthians and Portuguesa de Desportes went to the 1966 as anything other than a spectator. That is not to say it was a squad entirely devoid of stars. Dino Sani had appeared at the 1958 World Cup and was a European Cup winner with AC Milan. The future was also included, one Roberto Rivelino was a mere 20 year old at the very beginning of his club and ‘international’ career.
For Arsenal, the double-winning side was beginning to breakthrough with Peter Storey and Jon Sammels joining George Armstrong and Frank McLintock in the first team.