Aldyr Garcia Schlee, a professor who designed the Brazilian soccer team’s signature jersey, now instantly recognizable around the world, died last week at a hospital in Pelotas, Brazil. He was 83.Mr. Schlee was a professor for 30 years at the Federal University of Pelotas and an award-winning journalist and author, but he was best known for the jersey he designed.
The jersey can trace its origins to 1950, when Uruguay beat Brazil in the World Cup, which was hosted by Brazil. Brazilians considered the loss to be the worst soccer defeat in their history. The losing team wore an all-white uniform then, and after the loss, it decided it wanted a more patriotic look.
A newspaper in Rio de Janeiro, Correio da Manhã (The Morning Mail), sponsored a contest in 1953 to come up with a new design. The only requirement was that the jersey had to use the colors of the Brazilian flag: blue, green, white and yellow.
Mr. Schlee was 19 and working as an illustrator at a newspaper in Pelotas. He was puzzled at the contest requirement. “No team uses four colors, and the colors in the flag are colors that don’t go well together,” he told Fox News in 2014.
“How can you put yellow and white together on a shirt?”
Mr. Schlee won the contest nevertheless, and what he created became one of the most well-known uniforms in professional sports — a canary yellow shirt trimmed in Kelly green with a touch of stark white, along with shorts of ocean blue.
“It completely changed the game,” Tom O’Grady, founder and chief creative officer of Gameplan Creative, a branding agency in Chicago, said in a phone interview on Sunday. “It is the most popular and most iconic graphic of that sport.” (Mr. O’Grady has designed jerseys for the New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies.)
Brazil’s new team colors debuted in March 1954. Eight years later, the skill and flair of the Brazilian player Pelé raised the uniform’s profile even more when Brazil won the 1958, 1962 World Cup. It won the cup again in 1970.
“Once you step on the field and the team starts winning, it freezes it in lock and step,” Mr. O’Grady said of the jersey. “There is such a connection to the jersey and winning now that it almost parks it in eternity.”
Aldyr Garcia Schlee was born on Nov. 22, 1934, in Jaguarão, Brazil, a municipality that borders Uruguay. Schlee had an intertwined history with Uruguay and Brazil. Though he designed the jersey for Brazil, he rooted for the Uruguayan team