Goalkeeper got lifetime ban for deliberately cutting himself with razor in match

Roberto Rojas was banned for life from football after he deliberately cut himself with a razor during a match after pretending to be hit by a flare.

The incident, known as El Maracanazo, is one of the most famous in South American footballing history.

Inside a raucous Maracana Stadium, Brazil are on the cusp of qualifying for the 1990 World Cup, needing just to avoid defeat to Chile to book their place at Italia '90.

After a goalless first half, Careca finally broke the deadlock in the 49th minute, and Chile's hopes of qualifying are dwindling.

The 141,000 Selecao fans are growing in voice as they grow increasingly frustrated with Chile goalkeeper Rojas, whose impressive saves and time wasting have made him public enemy number one.

In the 67th minute a flare is thrown from the stands in Rojas' direction and he falls to the ground.

As the smoke clears La Roja's captain emerges with his face streaming with blood, claiming he had been hit by the flare and plotting a protest to FIFA and CONMEBOL.

However, on review it is clear that flare did not touch Rojas, and Brazil are awarded a 2-0 walkover victory, securing their place at Italia 90.

And speaking in a later interview Chilean newspaper, he revealed that he had in fact cut himself with a blade hidden in his glove.

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“I cut myself with a razor and the farce was discovered,” he explained.

“It was a cut to my dignity. I have had problems at home with my wife, my team-mates turned their backs on me, but if I were Argentine, Uruguayan or Brazilian, I would not be suspended.”

Rojas also added in a later interview with Mas Vale Tarde: “[I did it] for passion, for Chile to have a chance because Chile was being harmed at that time.

"We had had problems in the last qualifiers, but when one makes that kind of mistake he wants the chance to redeem himself, but I did not have that.”

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Brazil captain Ricardo Gomes admitted that he was horrified as the scenes played out.

"I was terrorised," he recalled several years later to CNN. "I thought immediately of losing the chance to go to the World Cup. It was something really bad.

"Now, of course, with all the cameras on mobile phones around, it would have been impossible.”

One man who played a key role in uncovering the truth was Argentine photographer Ricardo Alfieri, who also captured the culprit who threw the flare to be Rosenery Mello, who went on to model for Brazilian Playboy and earned the title 'The Maracana Firecracker'.

Explaining how he worked out what had happened, experienced lensman Alfieri told Goal: “I took a sequence of 14 or 15 photos of the flare falling and the rest, because the flare landed on the floor and threw up a cloud of smoke,”

“Rojas went down amidst the smoke and after that the next photo I have of Rojas, he was covered in blood. I had the impression that it had not hit him, but there was a contradiction: it didn't hit him but the guy was bleeding.

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"It didn't make sense… This was 1989, you couldn't imagine a professional sportsman would play a game with a blade hidden in his glove!”

Chile were ultimately banned from qualifying for the next World Cup in 1994, making Rojas something of a national anti-hero.

Rojas was banned from professional football for life just 10 days later by FIFA, but received a pardon in 2001 upon request, and went on to coach Sao Paolo.

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