Pelé (1940 – present)
‘The Black Pearl’ as he was called (among others), Pelé is considered to be the best or one of the best football players of all times. He scored a stunning 1281 goals in 1363 matches. He is the only player who has won the World Cup 3 times. In 1955 at the age of 15 he started at football club Santos (close to Sao Paolo). At the age of 17 he won his first World Cup.
Wherever you are in Brazil, people will always say that Pelé is the best football player ever. They adore him and he is a national icon of proud. If you want to have a discussion or get to know people, just tell them that Maradona and Messi are better players and you’re set for at least an hour.
Garrincha (1933 – 1983)
The ‘Little Bird’ is by many experts considered to be even better than Pelé. Despite his remarkable fysical dificiences he was one of the most pure and talented players ever. He was there to play and he loved the game for the game. Not only he was the best dribbler, he has also won the World Cup 2 times in the success teams of 1958 and 1962.
Carrincha was a left foot and played for football club Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro. He has had a tragic life in his final years which suits his mystical talent and personality. He was in many ways a real Brazilian and a man of the people.
Zizinho (1921 – 2002)
Maybe less known by the general public Zizinho was a complete (forward) player and according to Pelé the best player he had ever seen. Zizinho was born in Niteroi close to Rio de Janeiro where he played for football club Flamengo. Currently the most popular football club in Rio de Janeiro.
Zizinho has played one World Cup. It was the most horrifying ever for Brazil, in 1950 when a superb Brazilian team lost the final – in the then new Maracana – against Urugauy.
Didi (1928 – 2001)
Didi cannot be missed in this list. The midfielder played 3 World Cups – 1954, 1958 and 1962. He won the last two and was voted best player in the World Cup 1958. He had a superb technique to shoot and pass the ball. He also became famous for “folha seca” which means as much as curving the ball.
Didi was born in Rio de Janeiro and played for Botafogo which is one of the 4 mayor clubs in Rio. When they won the Campionato Carioca in 1957 he kept word and had to walk (accompannied by 5000 supporters!) al the way back from Maracana stadium to Botafogo.
Leonidas (1913 – 2004)
Leonidas – called the rubber man due to his flexibility – is one of Brazil’s best ever strikers and was the topscorer of the World Cup in 1938. He is known for the ‘Bycicle kick’ and the only player who scored like this in a World Cup.
Leonidas was born in Rio de Janeiro and played for Sao Cristovao, Vasco da Gama, Botafogo and Flamengo. All are clubs from Rio. Playing for Flamengo he was one of the first black players in the elite and white club of Flamengo.
Zico (1953 – present)
Another great player coming from Rio de Janeiro is the indesputable Zico. His passing skills, free kicks and overall football skills are world famous. Despite the fact he has never won a World Cup he is considered as one of Brazil’s finest.
His best years were in the late 70′s and early 80′s. He was the leader of Brazil’s national team during the World Cup in 1982. This World Cup was won by Italy but is one of the best Brazilian teams in football history.
Zico is all Flamengo and up untill today when you wear a Zico football shirt people will start talking to you or show their respect for you wearing the shirt. Especially in Rio de Janeiro Zico is one of the biggest football heroes ever.
Tostao (1947 – present)
‘The little coin’ as he was called, Tostao was a forward player who made an impecable couple with Pelé. Considered as one of the best forward players of his time he not only scored (249 goals in 379 games) but also delivered to his fellow players. Tostao was one of the key players in the 1970 World Cup winning dream team.
Unfortunately Tostao who played for Vasco da Gama – one of the big clubs in Rio de Janeiro – had to retire at the peak age of 26 due to an injury in the eye (retina).
Romario (1966 – present)
‘Baixinho’ (the little one) as he was called is by far one of the best strikers who ever lived. The way Romario could touch the ball is unique, there’s not a player in the world who has the same (gorgious) style as Romario. He grew up in the favela Jacarezinho and started playing for Olaria Atlético Clube before he went to Vasco da Gama. After Vasco he played for PSV in Holland where he set the basis for his stardom. Before playing for Flamengo in Rio he went to FC Barcelona where he played in the Dream Team. His most important prices are the World Cup in 1994 (topscorer) and the golden ball for best player in the world in the same year. Romario has scored over 1000 goals and was a rebellious and obstinate player. He could fight with the coach one week telling him he doesn’t know about the game and promise supporters to score 2 goals the next week. Romario has always kept his promises.
Ronaldo (1976 – present)
Ronaldo is a different player and has a different character than Romario. But they both went to PSV in Holland where they had all freedom to develop themselves as superstars. Like Romario, Ronaldo went to FC Barcelona and like Romario, Ronaldo is one of the best strikers ever. He scored 15 goals during World Cups, he won the World Cup in 2002 and he played for the best European clubs. He was a fast and strong player and he has won – like Messi and Zidane – the golden ball for best player in the world 3 times!
Obviously there are more players who should be in the list. The talent in Brazil is difficult to comprehend. You see that when you check out the young (and old) players who play football in the street. In that sense there probably are many anonimous players that could have been in this list as well.