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.