Garrincha: The Best Brazilian Soccer Player You’ve Never Heard Of

In a previous post we made it clear the opinion of the Editorial Staff of the Best of Brazil Blog as to who the greatest soccer player of all time is. However, every Batman needs a Robin, every Star Lord needs a “Rocket” (gratuitous Guardians of the Galaxy reference), and even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.

In the case of Pelé, his sidekick was a man named Manuel Francisco dos Santos, nicknamed Garrincha (which means “wren”).

Born into poverty 1933, Garrincha soon developed a carefree lifestyle that bled over into his soccer playing style. As you young married man he was signed up for the Brazilian team Botafogo, where he quickly made a name for himself.

It was as a member of the Brazilian national team, however, where he was to make his greatest contribution to Brazilian soccer lore. Garrincha’s forte was dribbling. He scored his share of goals, but he was a master at getting the ball around opponents. Together, he and Pelé were a formidable match. So formidable, in fact, that the Brazil squad never lost a game when both were in the field.

The highlight of Garrincha’s career was in 1962, when Pelé was out on injury. Without the star player, Garrincha was still able to lead his team to victory over powerhouse teams like Chile and England, giving Brazil the title.

Unfortunately, the “carefree lifestyle” mentioned earlier included many vices, including lots and lots of alcohol. He died in 1983 of cirrhosis of the liver.

Fortunately, we can still see the magic he worked on the soccer field, in videos like this one:


Want to know more about Garrincha’s life? Here’s a great book to start with. (This link, and other links with the text are affiliate links, which help us keep bringing you great content like this.)


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