Writer Aldyr Schlee–Creator of Iconic Brazil Jersey–Dies at 83

Writer Aldyr Schlee–Creator of Iconic Brazil Jersey–Dies at 83

Written By Toni Caushi

As a fan of soccer, no matter from what country or even point in history you’re coming from, a yellow jersey on blue shorts screams ‘Brazil’s National Team’ at you. A number 9 on its back brings Ronaldo in mind, and a 10 definitely reminds you of Pelé and Ronaldinho, but it’s Aldyr Schlee’s merit for Brazil’s uniform to have looked the way it has for decades.

The Brazilian journalist was only 19 when he won a newspaper contest to pick the colors of Brazil’s uniform. Since then, he saw the national team raise the World Cup trophy five times in the uniquely Brazilian Camisa Canarinho. After a life of successful productivity in the fields of journalism and academia, the 83-year-old died last Thursday after having suffered a battle with skin cancer.

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Mural honoring Aldyr Schlee’s 1953 pitch of designs

In 1950, Brazil hosted a World Cup whose outcome they would suffer in the final, when they lost to Uruguay with a 2-1 score. Four years later, the religiously soccer-crazed country would need a new cape for their national team in the 1954 World Cup, as the bland white jersey had to be put to rest with the humiliation suffered in the Maracanã final.

In 1953, the 19-year-old Schlee entered a contest in which he had wanted to merely participate, and nevermind win it. His design had included all four colors of the flag–yellow, green, blue, and white–thus breaking the rule of the expected unicolored jerseys that other nations wore in major competitions.

Needless to say, his look was chosen to be worn by the national team in the 1954 World Cup, and every competition after that. Schlee’s combination of colors would hold Brazil’s integrity high in the eyes of the soccer world as a team that wasn’t there to just win, but to represent a whole nation. 

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Schlee signing a  copy of one of his books during an interview

In the following years, while Brazil conquered soccer, Schlee went on to seek success in literature and linguistics. After having thoroughly studied Brazil-Uruguay international relations, he was awarded numerous prizes to acknowledge his achievements. Most recently he had taught for 30 years at Federal University of Pelotas, an institution found in the city of Pelotas, Brazil; his last residence.

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Moment from the minute of silence held in Schlee’s honor before the November 16th Brazil-Uruguay friendly in London

As luck would have it, Schlee perished the night before a Brazil-Uruguay friendly, leaving behind a canon of productivity that encompassed the world of literature, and more iconically, the world of sports.

Cover photo: mundoazulgrana.com.al
Mural photo: guim.co.uk
Signing photo: ecult.com.br

Brazil-Uruguay photo: standard.co.uk

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