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Exeter mark 'Brazil's' birthday

A CENTURY of samba ­­football, which began when an British team turned up unexpectedly in Rio de Janeiro in 1914 and took on a cobbled-together "Brazil" side, has been remembered in a celebratory match at the same stadium.

Exeter City were the team 100 years ago when they stopped off in Rio on July 21, 1914. A a mixture of players from that city and Sao Paulo were brought together to form Brazil, in what is recognised as that country's first international fixture.

Yesterday English League Two side Exeter had a goal-less draw in a pre-season friendly against Fluminense's Under-23s.

Exeter planned a tour to Argentina and added a stop-off in Rio.

Football was introduced to Brazil two decades previously by Charles Miller, son of a Scotsman, but although the sport took off in Rio and Sao Paulo, players from both cities had not yet joined forces to form a national side.

Brazil arranged an international against Argentina in two months and were eager to test their best players ahead of the match. They tried to form a Brazilian side with players from both cities.

Played in front of 3000 fans, the South Americans' star player Arthur Friedenreich lost two teeth in the battle, but they ran out 2-0 winners.

The crowd included sailors from the SS Glasgow berthed nearby. The original fixture was "the first time a Brazilian team was formed by players from Sao Paulo and Rio," according to author Aidan Hamilton.

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