Manuel Francisco dos Santos, Garrincha, was a great Brazilian soccer player known for his unpredictable dribbles and crooked legs. He is one of the best players in the history of soccer. Garrincha played a decisive role in Brazil’s 1958 World Cup victory. After Pelé’s injury, he became the team’s star player in the 1962 World Cup. When Garrincha and Pelé played together, the national team never lost a single game.
The power of his charisma is felt in the words of the great poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, who published a beautiful column in the Jornal do Brasil on January 21, 1983, a day after the death of soccer genius Garrincha:
“If there is a God who takes care of soccer, he would be an ironic and clever God and Garrincha would be one his representatives sent down to make fun of everything and everyone in the stadiums. But, as he is also a cruel God, he stripped the amazing Garrincha of his ability to recognize his condition as a divine agent. He lived as a poor and humble mortal who helped the entire country overcome its sadness. Unfortunately the sadness has returned and there is no other Garrincha available. We need another one, who will fuel our dream.”
Of humble background, born into a family of 15 siblings, Garrincha began to play at the age of 14. Throughout most of his career he played for Botafogo, from 1953 to 1965, and came out for the Brazilian team between 1957 and 1966. He played 60 games for Brazil, scoring 17 goals. He scored a total of 283 goals in his entire career.
In January of 1983 he succumbed to alcoholism and died. In January of 2010, a statue in honor of the athlete was inaugurated at the Engenhão stadium, in Rio de Janeiro. The bronze sculpture, designed by Edgar Duvivier, stands 2.5 meters tall.
Watch some of Garrinchas plays in this video