Garrincha – The Little Bird
Known as: Garrincha
Surname: dos Santos
Firstname: Manoel Francisco
Date of birth: 1933-10-28
Birthplace: Pau Grande
Height: 169 cm
Weight: 68.0 kg
Clubs: Pau Grande, Botafogo (1952-66), Corinthians (1966-67), Barranquilla (Col/1967-68), Flamengo (1968-69), Red Star (France/1969-71), Olaria (1972-73)
International appearances: 50
International goals: 12
International debut: 18/09/1955, Brazil-Chile (1-1)
Last international appearance: 15/07/1966, Hungary-Brazil (3-1)
First international goal: 29/04/1960, Egypt-Brazil (0-5)
Last international goal: 12/07/1966, Brazil-Bulgaria (2-0)
International – World Cup: winner (1958, 1962) first-round (1966), 3 appearances, 12 matches, 5 goals
Club: 3 Rio State Championships (1957, 1961, 1962), 2 Rio/Sao Paulo Championship (1962, 1964)
Biography Little Bird
A garrincha is a small tropical bird, and legend has it that Manoel Francisco Dos Santos liked to hunt garrinchas as a youngster in the backstreets of his village, thus acquiring his nickname.
International defenders and goalkeepers probably called him something less quaint as he darted past them time after time or foxed them with his astonishing “banana” kick, but now the name Garrincha is firmly part of Brazil’s great football legacy.
The Brazilian winger was the eternal child, a spindly, fun-loving character who drove his coaches to distraction. One said he thought he had the mental age of four.
On the pitch he was one of the most exciting ball players ever, thrilling spectators with his exceptional dribbling skills.
Yet it is a miracle he was able to even kick a football, such were the physical and growing problems he had as a boy.
An operation left him with one knee pointing outwards, while his backbone and hip were also affected.
Yet Garrincha burst onto the scene at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, dazzling all those who came up against him with a catalogue of feints, dummies and lightening breaks.
His balance and speed made him virtually unstoppable, and his action was so original and quick that few defenders could ever get the better of him.
In 1962 he was at the peak of his considerable and explosive powers at the World Cup in Chile in 1962, when he emerged from the injured Pele’s shadow to inspire his team to the title.
He was voted player of the tournament – despite being sent off in the semi-final against Chile – after scoring twice against both England and the hosts.
What planet is Garrincha from?
It was not long before Garrincha broke into the national team, making his debut on 18 September 1955 in a 1-1 draw against Chile. In all, his international record was 50 caps and 12 goals, and he scored five times in his dozen FIFA World Cup finals matches.
Just five years after senior debut for Botafogo, he became a world champion at Sweden 1958 – the first of Brazil’s five world titles. It was there that he became part of a formidable attacking unit that included Didi, Zagallo, Vava and a precocious 17-year-old called Pele, who was just starting to grab the headlines. Vicente Feola’s Auriverde picked up other accolades, one of which was becoming the first team to win the competition on a foreign continent.
Garrincha’s finest hour would come four years later at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile. The winger was voted player of the tournament after coach Aymore Moreira put additional weight on his shoulders in the absence of the injured Pele. He rewarded his gaffer’s faith with a series of magical displays and four crucial goals, which made him the tournament’s joint top scorer.
“What planet is Garrincha from?” asked Chile’s Mercurio newspaper after Brazil had eliminated the hosts in the semi-final. After winning a second FIFA World Cup in succession, Garrincha’s reputation soared both at home and abroad, with many people now considering him the second greatest player in his country’s history behind Pele.
His personal life had a darker side and he already had serious problems with alcohol when he arrived in England for the 1966 World Cup.
Always a controversial figure, he caused a storm when he left his wife and eight children to marry a local singer.
He was also in dispute with the income tax authorities and with his club Botafogo over his pay.
He did help the club to five domestic titles but his drinking led to his ruin, and despite several stays in rehabilitation centres and drying out clinics, the Brazilian could never kick the habit.
It finally caught up with him on January 20, 1983 when he contracted pneumonia and died in hospital.
He played 50 times for Brazil, despite several breaks due to injury, ending his career at the 1966 World Cup against Hungary (1-3), his only defeat with the national side.
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