With Abraham Klein close to blowing for full-time, he awarded Brazil a free kick on the edge of the box close to the goal line. Up stepped Rivellino to take it and as the ball floated into the six-yard box, it was met by Jairzinho, whose header looped over the desperately lunging José Henrique in the Portuguese goal. A third 1-0 victory for Brazil with Klein officiating, and a third goal for Jairzinho in those three matches!
At the end of the game, Klein came away with two prized possessions: the match ball that now has its home in the FIFA Museum collection, and a solid-gold commemorative whistle. During the presentation ceremony, however, he also got a close-up view of the extraordinary trophy that had been made for the occasion. Unlike any other trophy made before or since, it was handed over to Brazil captain Gérson. Nothing remarkable about this perhaps, but as Klein returned to the Hotel Glória along with the thousands of fans streaming to the Copacabana to celebrate a special victory over the former colonial power, little did he know that he would be one of the very few people ever to see this unique trophy up close. “It disappeared not long after,” Klein said.
Indeed, on the night of 19 December 1983, thieves broke into the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Association and stole the cup. But it wasn’t the only trophy stolen that night. The burglars left with two others – a cup Brazil had received for finishing in second place at the 1950 World Cup, and… the original World Cup itself, the Jules Rimet Trophy.
Much has been said and written about the theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy and how it might have been melted down, but little has been said about the Taça Independência trophy. Was it too melted down? Was such an ornate cup even possible to melt down? If not, what happened to it? Was it stolen to order by a collector or did the thieves seize the opportunity to take it while originally just being after the World Cup? If so, what are the implications for the fate of the Jules Rimet Trophy?
These are questions that may never be answered, but one day, perhaps, the truth will come out.