In November 2004, Brazilian football legend Socrates made a famous (and short) promotional cameo for English non-league side Garforth Town. As the football correspondent for a leading Brazilian newspaper, I arrived in the West Yorkshire town to write about the madness of it all.

An interview with the legendary midfielder - known as The Doctor because of his medical degree but also his political engagement - turned into a long after-hours chat at a local pub. Guards and notepads were down as Socrates, always a laid-back character, chatted about football with a sincerity that was remarkable even for him.

It was at that pub, such an unusual setting and so far from his comfort zone, that Socrates made a striking admission: he had never watched back Brazil's 3-2 defeat by Italy in the 1982 World Cup - none of it. He just couldn't bear to.

"I just don't need to go through that game again," he said. And it is quite likely that refusal remained until January 2011, when he died at the age of 57.

"That game" was a World Cup classic played on a hot Barcelona afternoon 40 years ago. One of the most feted generations of Brazilian footballers saw their dreams shattered by an Italian side that transformed over the tournament, putting a stuttering start behind them on the way to demolishing West Germany in the final.

With the passing of time, many older Brazilian fans have mellowed, but on 5 July 1982 the feeling was that a crime against football had been committed.

In 1982, Brazil was still ruled by the military regime that had seized power 18 years earlier, when left-wing president Joao Goulart was ousted in a coup.

Joao Figueiredo, an Army general, had become president in 1979 with the mission of overseeing a smooth return to democratic ways, but there were increasing calls for a faster handover during what was a turbulent time for the Brazilian economy.

It was in this context that Tele Santana was announced as the new Brazil football manager in early 1980. Santana had been a good player - a winger who scored 164 goals in nine years with Rio de Janeiro side Fluminense. He still ranks as their fourth-highest scorer.

Santana also built a reputation for fair play. He had never been sent off in his 12-year professional career. He demanded the same attitude from his players.

Qualifiers for the 1982 World Cup in Spain started with scrappy 1-0 and 2-1 away wins over Venezuela and Bolivia, but Brazil soon hit an impressive stride in the home games, beating the same opponents 5-0 and 3-1. In a May 1981 European tour, they raised eyebrows by beating England, France and Germany in the space of a few days.

But Brazil were doing more than winning. They were playing a fluid game that could not have been more different to the tactically disciplined style that had infuriated fans in the post-Pele era.

The exploits of Pele and Brazil at the 1970 World Cup had seemed like a long forgotten dream during uninspired campaigns in the two following tournaments, despite the team finishing in the last four on both occasions.

Now, as well as Socrates, the Selecao had Zico, the mercurial Flamengo playmaker, pulling the reins. Theirs was a flowing brand of football where no player seemed to touch the ball more than twice before passing it round. It was great to watch and, according to Zico, it felt even greater to play.