Posted: 6/24/2014


One of the greatest dribblers of all time, No.7 right winger MANE GARRINCHA of BOTAFOGO and BRAZIL. When Garrincha and PELE played on the same SELECAO together Brazil NEVER LOST A MATCH.

The little man named after a little bird, a wren, had a short and tragic life, dying at age 50 after battling alcoholism, depression and a very hard life. The new national stadium in the capital BRASILIA is named The ESTADIO NACIONAL MANE GARRINCHA in his honour. Real name MANUEL FRANCISCO dos SANTOS. After NEYMAR'S two goals and the 4-1 win a couple of days ago the headline in the local Correio Braziliense was " COMA BENCAO do MANE- Garrincha Walked Among Us".

He was the son of an alcoholic drinking cachacu and he continued doing the same himself. He was born with a curved spine, a right leg bent outwards, left was 6 cm shorter than the right and curved inwards. Try and look for some clips of his amazing skills on social media.

Brilliant team mate,defender DJALMA SANTOS called him football's CHARLIE CHAPLIN. He starred at the 1958 and 1962 World Cups and in his private life he fathered at least 14 children, one called Ulf Lindberg, in a liason with a Swedish woman. In his final year on earth he was hospitalized 14 times and died of cirrhosis of the liver on January 20th 1983. MILLIONS of fans and former team mates lined the funeral route from Maracana Stadium to Pau Grande.

I remember one of two goals that he scored against England in the 3-1 quarter final victory of the 1962 World Cup in Everton's Estadio Sausalita on the Pacific coast in Vina Del Mar, Chile. I visited there a few years ago with my host former FIFA referee Gaston Castro Makuc, now head of CONMEBOL referees. Mane played 50 times for Brazil, scoring 12 goals between 1955-66. For Botafogo he scored 232 goals in 581 matches.

TODAY I HAD A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE. I visited the Botafogo club and was given an individual guided tour of the museum with hundreds of trophies, photos and memorabilia, complete with a sound track of the clubs songs. Then to the practice pitch, the development players quarters, the gym and finally lunch at the club restaurant. Not far away on Botafogo Bay is the clubs's Olympic size swimming pool and stadium.

One of Brazil's best run clubs, they play in the Estadio Olympico which they now call STADIUM RIO and operate, where you can see many of their greats in statue forms which I have visited to watch 3 matches in the last couple of seasons. GARRINCHA also has a bust in Mararcana which I photographed about 18 months ago.

I suggest that you get your hands on a couple of wonderful books. GARRINCHA: The Triumph and Tragedy of Brazil's Forgotten Footballing Hero by Roy Castro and a book I re-read many times a year FUTEBOL: The Brazilian Way of Life by Alex Bellos.