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Garrincha (1933–1983)

Garrincha (1933–1983)

Garrincha led Brazil's national soccer team to World Cup victories in 1958 and 1962. Christened Manuel dos Santos in the rural factory town of Pau Grande, Rio de Janeiro, the nickname "Garrincha" derived from an ungainly songbird. The ultimate mestizo, Garrincha descended from Fulniô Indians as well as African and European ancestors. Despite being born in relative poverty and with contorted legs, he became a largely self-taught soccer genius in Pau Grande. Botafogo Soccer Club contracted Garrincha at age nineteen, and he became an instant sensation because of his ability to confound defenders with magical shimmies, feints, and dribbles that created unpredictable scoring opportunities. His inimitable style became legendary during the 1958 World Cup tournament when his wily moves left the world's best defenders reeling. He was voted the outstanding player of the 1962 World Cup when injury sidelined his now more remembered teammate Pelé. Garrincha's simple manners and artfully impish play earned him the popular epithets "the people's pride and joy" and the "Chaplin of soccer." His career reached its apogee in 1962, but he played professionally into the early 1970s. Debilitated by alcohol abuse and hounded by family scandal and financial problems off the field, Garrincha played past his prime, tarnishing the memory of his halcyon days. He died of pulmonary edema at age forty-nine.

See alsoPelé; Sports.


Castro, Ruy. Estrela Solitária: Um brasileiro chamado Garrincha. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1995.

                                      Peter M. Beattie

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