Shijal ChudasamaDecember 5, 2022

Wallace Leite, a 60-year-old drummer,  so called "Brazilian football’s unofficial drummer" from Sao Paulo, has attended every Brazil game for the last ten World Cup competitions.

Wallace Leite, a 60-year-old drummer,  so called "Brazilian football’s unofficial drummer" from Sao Paulo, has attended every Brazil game for the last ten World Cup competitions.

Wallace Leite, the unofficial World Cup drummer for Brazil, hasn't missed the most famous football tournament on earth since 1986.

Nothing has stopped the Brazilian and his drum from the World Cup, not age, not injuries, nor family obligations.

‘World Cup Wallace’: Meet Brazilian football’s unofficial drummer
Brazilian fan Wallace Leite outside the Qatar National Museum with the Surdao

The 60-year-old Sao Paulo resident has participated in the past ten world cups, constantly carrying and playing his Surdao (Brazilian drum) at each game involving the Canarinha, or "little canaries," as the Brazilian team is affectionately known because to their brilliant yellow uniforms.

Leite described the World Cup and drumming as a "natural high." In the same attire with elements of the Brazilian flag that he has worn to every one of his team's games in the tournament in Qatar, he told Al Jazeera, "It's like I have found the fountain of happiness."

He hopes the outfit would be lucky for his side.

Leite's main concern is the "good response" he receives from the throngs of admirers who swarm around him when he performs the Surdao in what he refers to as his "ideal position."

“There are no issues, no politics, everybody just there supporting Brazil,” he said.

‘World Cup Wallace’: Meet Brazilian football’s unofficial drummer
Leite (right) in Doha, Qatar with his Surdao, an instrument he has used at every World Cup game since the 1990 tournament in Italy [Courtesy of Wallace Leite]

Since the 1990 World Cup in Italy, he has played the Surdao, a 7 kilogram (15 lb) Brazilian drum, during every World Cup game. Leite claimed that before that, he had tried a lesser variety of percussion drum, but he didn't like it since the pitch was "too high."

The Surdao aids in maintaining "the rhythm together."

With [the Surdao], "I feel I can move and hype so many more people," he continues.

At 79kg (174lb) and 177cm (five feet, nine inches) in height, he cuts a lean figure, but he acknowledges that playing a big drum for a month-long World Cup event takes a physical toll.

"I have sustained a number of wounds, including damage to my arms, shoulders, and neck of course. After the competition, I'll get a massage or go to therapy," said Leite, who works as a computer hardware specialist in the United States, where he resides. "Many people ask, 'Isn't it all so difficult?' Yes, it is difficult, but the reward is bigger, I reply.

He continues, "It's just wow," a look of amazement crossing his face as he talks about his experience performing in front of crowds in numerous stadiums over the years.

‘World Cup Wallace’: Meet Brazilian football’s unofficial drummer
Wallace Leite celebrates the Brazilian team winning 3-1 against Peru in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
‘World Cup Wallace’: Meet Brazilian football’s unofficial drummer
Leite says he has been playing precussion drums since the early age of 11 

At the competitions, Leite, who is also known by his followers as Wallace Das Copa (World Cup Wallace), said that fans frequently approach him for photos, interviews, and even autographs.

"Even though I'm not a famous person, it still makes me feel really special," he said

People in the nations hosting the World Cup frequently invited him to their homes for dinners or drove him to tourist attractions, such as a safari tour of South Africa's Kruger Park, a trip to Moscow's Kremlin, and camel riding in Qatar.

"Not everyone gets the opportunity to do that, but I have made so many friends around the world and learnt so much about many countries and customs. A blessing, the 60-year-old exclaimed with pride.

His diplomatic response to the question of which host nation had been his favorite is, "All of them."

"Every country has a wealth of good people and stunning locations to explore. It's difficult to decide," he remarked.

He stated that "perhaps Mexico" was the location of his favorite World Cup memories.

Leite claims that during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, the Brazilian football team "fell in love" with the Mexican populace. Pele and other football greats were on the club, and the team's distinctively inventive style of play mesmerized the Mexican audience. Brazil would go on to win the trophy in Mexico, defeating Italy 4-1 in the final, with Pele scoring four goals in the tournament.

‘World Cup Wallace’: Meet Brazilian football’s unofficial drummer
‘World Cup Wallace’ playing the drum in Torino, Italy during the 1990 World Cup during which Brazil was eliminated in the round of 16 by Argentina

He claimed that when he initially traveled to Mexico in 1986 for his first World Cup, the country "embraced" him as one of their own.

"In Mexico, I felt at home. Oh my goodness, everyone was so kind. I didn't make any purchases. He recalled that "people would pay for everything."

“I would go to restaurants where they play mariachi music and they would say ‘let’s stop mariachi, we want to hear Brazilian samba’. In the streets people would be dancing and singing at all times of the day. The interactions I had with people, it was a great feeling.”

Leite expressed his "definite hope" that this will be the year that South America welcomes back the football world's most prized trophy.

It's been 20 years since we won, he groans in frustration. Brazil won the World Cup five times, most recently in 2002 in Japan.

Leite promised that his wife Carmen, who is from Sao Paulo and works in the fashion sector, would join him to every game for the first several competitions. He said, "She would sing with me and dance in the streets."

The drummer warned that Carmen would stop visiting as frequently as time went on.

"Like it is for me, it was just not her thing. It became a routine for her. Leite, who claims to organize his costumes and create new songs weeks before the competition even begins, is urged by Carmen to spend more time with her and his two adult daughters."

"She believes that I focus on the World Cup too much and am overly obsessed with it when the time for it arrives," he added. "But ultimately, she is on my side."

When asked how long he sees himself playing his drum at World Cup tournaments, he said he had no “time frame”.

“Only God knows,” he adds. “As long I can move, have good health, shout, and play my instrument, I will keep doing it.”

‘World Cup Wallace’: Meet Brazilian football’s unofficial drummer
Leite wearing a ghutra (Left) at Lusail Boulevard in Doha, Qatar [Courtesy of Wallace Leite]

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