I'm surprised Professor Mazzei's death has not received more press coverage in the U.S. He was one of a kind.
The Professor was always very kind to me, both with the Cosmos and afterward. But the ultimate story involved a trip to Brazil for the initial (and only) "Pele Cup."
There were four teams traveling and the Soccer America crew included publisher Lynn Berling-Manuel, columnist Paul Gardner and myself.
We all rendezvoused in Orlando; from there we flew to Miami (!), Jamaica (where we overnighted, unexpectedly, on a raucous Jamaican Independence Weekend); Manaus, Rio, and finally Sao Paulo.
It was an epic 48-hour journey. By the time we got there, at something like 6 a.m., we were bedraggled, exhausted, smelly, angry, almost mutinous.
There to greet us was Professor Mazzei. He exuded hospitality. He wore a smile the size of a 747, and looked like he had not a care in the world. Judging by his demeanor, we'd taxied in a few minutes ahead of schedule.
"Welcome to Brazil!" he said, in that Portuguese-flavored accent that can make even the most mundane statement sound impossibly exotic. "Did you have a good flight?"
Somehow, from a man called "the professor," it sounded like the dumbest thing I ever heard. But we smiled, and all was right with the world.