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Garrincha

Brazil

Full name: Manoel Francisco dos Santos
Date of birth: 28/10/1933
Position: Forward
International caps: 51
International goals: 12
World Cups: 1958 - Champions
1962 - Champions
1966 - First Round
Clubs: Botafoga
Corinthians
Atletico Junior Barranquilla
Flamengo
Olaria Rio
1953-1965
1966
1968
1968-1969
1972

Garrincha, meaning "Little Bird", was regarded as one of Brazil's greatest footballing stars. Born into poverty and having had mild polio cripple his legs as a youngster, he was the epitome of Brazilian football. The disease left him with knees that bent in from the side, but this didn't stop him from playing football and, actually, his knee joints were almost designed for curling the ball with the outside of the foot - the banana shot would become his trademark. Garrincha had great speed, but also a great ability to stop suddenly and tease opponents.

Garrincha was only discovered in his late teens, partly because of his legs, but also because he had no real desire to be a professional footballer. In his debut for Botafoga in July 1953, he scored a hat-trick. In total in 12 years at Botafoga, Garrincha won numerous state titles, the Campeonato Brasileiro once (in 1957) and the Campeonato Carioca three times (in 1957, 1961 and 1962), scoring 232 goals in 581 matches.

Garrincha in action

Garrincha first played for his country in 1957 in the South American Championship, but for his first World Cup game, he had to wait until the third group game in the 1958 tournament. Before that match, the team doctor told Brazilian manager Feola, that "including him in the team would be a disaster". Garrincha confounded his critics immediately by hitting the bar in the first minute. He and the other new introduction to the side, Pele, made all the difference up front and forged a great striking partnership. Garrincha set up many of the goals from midfield, but really found form when he played as a winger. Brazil won the cup with a resounding 5-2 victory over Sweden and Garrincha was now a fixture in the team.

For Garrincha, things were even better in the 1962 World Cup. With Pele injured after only the second match, he was thrust out of his illustrious teammate's shadow and into the limelight. Garrincha scored twice in the quarter final with a show of outrageous individual skill and then got another brace in the semi final. Two headers, a left foot and a right foot - how's that for all round ability! Garrincha then courted controversy by getting himself sent off in the 84th minute of the semi final. The Brazilian backroom staff at once started negotiations with FIFA to let the tournament's best player feature in the final. He was allowed to play (after a personal plea from the Brazilian president), but he made surprisingly little impact on the match, as Brazil went on to win 3-1 over Czechoslovakia. Garrincha was the co-leading scorer in the championships and was given the Golden Boot after lots were drawn.

Garrincha in action

The 1966 World Cup started well, with a 2-0 victory over Bulgaria, Garrincha scoring the second from a trademark curling free kick. However, with Pele rested for the second game, it all went wrong. Brazil lost 3-1 to Hungary and Garrincha limped off after a hard tackle. This was to be the last game for Brazil for the brilliant winger.

One statistic shows just how indispensable Garrincha had become. He only finished on the losing side in one of his 50 international matches for Brazil, and that was the game against Hungary. In 1983 Garrincha died, at the tragically young age of 49, from alcohol poisoning - a result of his troubled life outside of football.

There is a saying in Brazil - "Pele was the best, but Garrincha was better".