Aldyr Schlee, designer of Brazil’s famous yellow jersey, dies


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The man who designed the Brazilian football team’s famous yellow shirt has died.

Aldyr Garcia Schlee, a designer, journalist and writer, was 83 and had been diagnosed with skin cancer.

He was only 18 when he submitted his design to a national competition launched after Brazil’s traumatic home defeat in the 1950 World Cup.

Until losing in the final match to Uruguay, the Brazilian national team used to play in white.

That unexpected and traumatic defeat led to a crisis of national identity.

‘It had to be yellow’

The authorities decided that a new strip would be created and launched a national competition in 1953.

The only requirement was that it should have the four colours of the national flag (green, yellow, blue and white) to instil the players with a sense of pride and passion.

The competition was won by Mr Schlee, who worked as an illustrator for a provincial newspaper in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

He sketched out 100 different combinations of the colours. “In the end I realised the shirt just had to be yellow,” Mr Schlee said.

“That went nicely with the blue and the socks could be white, with the green around the collar.”

His prize was a plane trip to Rio de Janeiro, which was then Brazil’s capital city.

The new kit was used for the first time in a friendly in 1954 and later that year in the World Cup in Switzerland.

“I thought they would replace the kit once more, after Brazil was knocked out,” he said.

Brazil would win its first World Cup in Sweden four years later, with Pelé and Garrincha, and immortalise the strip designed by Mr Schlee.

Ironically, Mr Schlee was born near the border and supported the Uruguayan football team throughout his life, including in the 1950 match against Brazil.

He died on the same day the Brazilian and the Uruguayan national teams played a friendly in London.

Before the match, which Brazil won 1-0, a brief eulogy was read in the stadium and players from both sides observed a minute of silence.


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