Referring to football as “the beautiful game” is a tired cliche but its origins reveal much about how the sport developed and spread around the world. It was used to describe football long before the phrase was popularised in the 1970s by Pele, and Pele most likely borrowed it from Brazil teammate Didi.

Read the full story in issue 366 of When Saturday Comes or on the WSC website.

Published by Paul Brown

Writes about football, history, true adventure. The Guardian, Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard, Longreads, Deadspin, etc. Latest book: The Ruhleben Football Association. Twitter: @paulbrownUK