Late yesterday night, legendary goalkeeper Oberdan Cattani – the only living link between Palestra Italia and Palmeiras – drew his last breath, shortly after turning 95 years old. Cattani was to be graced with a bust this month of June – joining the extremely selective group consisting of Waldemar Fiume, Junqueira, Ademir da Guia and, soon, Marcos – but his family asked for the postponing of the ceremony due to Cattani’s precarious health condition.
Ceremony or no ceremony: Oberdan Cattani certainly knew his importance in the history of Palmeiras and was recognised for it. The former truck driver from Sorocaba played at Palmeiras from 1941 to 1954, completing a total of 351 games, being 207 victories, 76 draws and 68 defeats. He was instrumental in the Paulista title of 1942, the famous “Arrancada Heróica“, and with Palmeiras also brought home the 1951 Rio Cup, the São Paulo championships of 1944, 1947 and 1950, and the Rio-São Paulo tournament of 1951.
Cattani’s large hands (a whopping 26 cm across, allowing him to one-handed grab balls in mid air), superior positioning skills, elasticity and amazing propulsion took him all the way to the Brazilian national squad.
“After 90, it’s stoppage time. He lived and died beautifully. Morreu de morte morrida“, my wife commented yesterday, when I told her the sad news. Her words gave me comfort. Cattani indeed lived and died as one of the greatest players and palmeirenses in the history of the Club.
Below, a picture from my first and only encounter with the legend, outside the Palestra, in January of 2012.