Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico, was one of the most charismatic Brazilian players, leader of Flamengo’s golden era in the 1970s and 1980s. He played for the Brazilian team in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cup.
Many consider him to be the greatest Brazilian athlete in the history of the Flamengo soccer team. Some would say he was the world’s best soccer player in the 1980s. Outside of Brazil he was often called “the white Pelé”. He is the greatest scorer in the history of the Maracanã stadium, scoring 333 goals in 435 games. He scored 135 goals in Brazilian championships.
His first field soccer team was Flamengo, where he began to play at the age of 14. He played in three World Cups, but never won the world title. In 1983, Zico was sold to a European team, Udinese in Italy. He returned to Flamengo in 1985.
In 1991, after he had retired, Zico returned to soccer, competing in the Japanese soccer league. His stint in Japan greatly increased the popularity and professionalization of the sport in that country. Zico was quite revered and even has a statue dedicated to him. When he returned to Brazil he founded a soccer team that he named after himself, the Centro de Futebol Zico, or CFZ.
He played for the Brazilian beach soccer team in the first two world championships in 1995 and 1996, becoming champion and top scorer.
Zico began his career as coach in 2002, in Japan. Then in 2006, he trained a Turkish team that included several Brazilian players. In 2008, he was in charge of Bunyodkor, in Uzbekistan. He only coached the team for a little over 4 months, but that was enough for them to win the Uzbekistan Cup that year. In 2009, Zico coached CSKA in Russia and Olympiakos in Greece.
Throughout his career, Zico scored a total of 826 goals, 66 of those for the Brazilian team. In 2003 he was elected by Brazilian TV channel Rede Globo as the best Brazilian player in the last 30 years. FIFA elected him best player of the 1978 World Cup, and best Beach Soccer World Cup player in 1995.
He is one of four Brazilians honored in the FIFA Hall of Fame.
Watch some of Zico’s plays in this video: