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Cafu

Brazil

Full name: Marcos Evangelista de Moraes
Date of birth: 07/06/1970
Position: Defender
International caps: 142
International goals: 5
World Cups: 1994 - Champions
1998 - Runners-up
2002 - Champions
2006 - Quarter finals
South American Footballer of the Year: 1994
Clubs: Sao Paulo
Real Zaragoza
Palmeiras
Roma
AC Milan
1989-1994
1994-1995
1995-1997
1997-2003
2003-present

Cafu is the most recent in a long line of brilliant Brazilian right-backs. He is pacy, skillful and loves to come forward, leading to early comparisons with 1970s Brazilian Cafuringa, from whom he gained his nickname. As with most attacking wing-backs, there are more proficient players defensibly, but Cafu is the best in his generation at what he does.

He started his professional career with local giants Sao Paul, in 1988. Soon after, he made his international debut against Spain. He helped Sao Paulo to consecutive Copa Libertadores championships in 1992 and 1993. These triumphs were followed by the 1994 World Cup in the USA, in which Cafu was used sparingly, making only three appearances as a substitute. However, this includes the final, where he came on early in the first half and was involved in an intriguing duel with Italian left back, Maldini. With Cafu keeping the Italian attack under control, Brazil survived 120 minutes and won on penalties. Cafu picked up his first winner's medal.

On the back of his World Cup performance, Cafu moved to Spain's Real Zaragoza, where he won the European Cup Winner's Cup in his only season. After returning to Brazilian football with Palmeiras in 1996, Cafu was chosen as Brazil's captain for their 1997 triumph in the Copa America, a feat they repeated in 1999. His return to the Brazilian league was short, as he headed to Rome in the summer of 1997. He quickly became a fan favourite, being nicknamed 'Il Pendolino' ('The express train') for his many surges down the right, and helped Roma to the Scudetto in 2001.

Cafu in action

By the World Cup tournament in 1998, Cafu was Brazil's first choice right back, and he played in 6 of the 7 games. With Roberto Carlos on the left wing, he was part of the most attacking defensive line in the world. In the second group game, a 3-0 defeat of Morocco, Cafu was Brazil's leading light, setting up a goal, and having a major influence over the majority of the play. Brazil made their way to the semi finals and Cafu's importance to the team was highlighted by a cagey display in his absence (through injury). Brazil eventually overcame Holland, winning 4-2 on penalties. Cafu was available for the final, but his return was overshadowed by the farce surrounding Ronaldo, a saga that obviously effected Brazil with France winning comfortably 3-0.

Cafu with the World Cup

In the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea, Cafu was back, and captain of a rejuvenated Brazilian squad mixing 1998 veterans with promising new talent such as Ronaldinho. Cafu played in all 7 matches and Brazil swept every opponent aside, culminating in a 2-0 victory over Germany in the final. In an emotional trophy ceremony, Cafu was lifted onto a pedestal to raise the World Cup.

A year later, and soon after helping Roma into the final of the 2003 Coppa Italia, Cafu quit the club for the European champions AC Milan, immediately contributing to their victory in the European Super Cup. His great Rossoneri debut continued with the club taking the Serie A title and the Italian Super Cup that season.

Cafu was yet again captain as Brazil headed for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. After comfortably finishing top of an easy group, and defeating Ghana 3-0 in the next round, Cafu's dream of a third title disappeared when a resurgent France beat them 1-0 in the quarter finals.

Cafu is the only player to have played in three World Cup finals (contrary to popular belief, Pele didn't play in the 1962 final). To do this in consecutive tournaments - and to win 2 of them - is an amazing achievement. Rumour has it that Cafu is hoping to participate in World Cup 2010, when he will be 40.