A small man measuring in at only 5ft 7in, Garrincha made his footballing debut for Botafogo of Rio in 1952 and within three years had burst into the national side. He traveled to the 1958 World Cup finals where after two games of non selection, his teammates pleaded with manager Vicente Feola to include him in the starting eleven. The tactical move paid dividends as Garrincha and new starlet Pelé combined to help Brazil become the only side to win the trophy outside their own continent. Four years later in Chile, Garrincha blossomed into an even more complete player in the absence of Pelé (who was injured in the second game), scoring a total of four goals and creating numerous others as Brazil swept aside England and hosts Chile on their way to a successful defense of their title. Controversially, Garrincha was sent off during the semifinal but was allowed to play the final after the president of Brazil made a plea to the tournament officials. After securing back-to-back Brazilian championships with Botafogo and then Santos in 1964 and 1965, Garrincha was involved in an horrific car crash which affected his performance during the 1966 World Cup. He was unable to prevent Brazil from crashing out in the first round, although he did score a magnificent free-kick against Bulgaria at Goodison Park.

From this point on Garrincha's fortunes took a distinctively downward turn as he struggled to overcome problems off the pitch. He left Santos and subsequently failed to settle at numerous clubs including Corinthians, Flamengo, Bangu, Portuguesa Santista and Olaria as alcohol took hold of his life. Sadly, he died of alcohol poisoning in 1983, aged only 50.
"Garrincha, which planet are you from? "
El Mercurio, Santiago newspaper, during the 1962 World Cup.

Garrincha – Brazilian football legend


Manuel Francisco dos Santos is born in Pau Grande, a small city near Rio de Janeiro, on October 28, 1933. He is an angel with twisted legs. The one striving for X, the other for O. Despite an operation as a child, the left leg remains six centimetres longer. As a footballer, he always stays that small child, which makes him a alegria do povo, the joy of the people. The adult little bird measures 1.69 metres.

The world gets to meet Garrincha thanks to his fellow players. They order their coach to include him against the USSR at the 1958 World Cup. His thank you: two gemstones in the final make Vava score twice. His falling leaf free kick drives goalkeepers mad.

Scoring and winning is inferior to the beauty of play. Yet he does not lose a single match with Brazil while playing together with Pelé. Without Pelé he makes his country world champion in 1962. He knows neither nerves nor duty. Tactics? Makes him fall asleep. Opponents? Defenders are all named João (even the Soviets), and then again, always behind him. Women? He loves. Booze? Even more.

Already deep in the gutter, he plays his last match at Christmas 1982. He smells of brandy. On January 20, 1983, he passes away.

He made ferocious dodges that seemed impossible, an effect caused by his handicapped (!) legs, he made every miraculous move look so easy.

Being a samba master, he danced while he played. He reflected favelas on to the grass. For example in one game, he passed every single opponent defence player and the goalkeeper, ran into the goal and stopped. He waited there on the goal line, teasing them to come back on him, passed them once again by dodging and moving, then he scored the goal.

Yeah, he was not an angel. He was the angel...

Now he lies near the Mane Garrincha Stadium (a very little one) in his town Pau Grande.

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