Manuel Francisco dos Santos
|Date of Birth|
28 October 1933
Pau Grande, Magé, Brazil
One of the best dribblers and wing play the football world has seen to date.
Third generation born whose grandparents were slaves, life growing up inherited poverty, no opportunities and physical deformities. Naturally one would assume he would need a miracle to escape these circumstances. He had a ‘Gift’, a natural talent to play football to devastating effect once he took to a football pitch. This blessing went on to rescue him from a fate that had already been written.
The impact and contribution of the two time World Cup winner led to Brazil only losing one match while on the field during his international career.
An estimated 3-6% of babies are born with a birth defect and we can assume that this would of been the same or less back in 1930’s, making Garrincha one of those 3-6%. He had scoliosis of the spine, bowed knees and one leg shorter than the other, giving doctors no option but to assume he’ll never walk unaided. His second obstacle like those of the same ethnicity, born into poverty with parents of black and indigenous Indian descent whose father was known to be an alcoholic. Childhood was a carefree zone, starting with defying expectations set as baby by walking and running unaided, enjoying the simple things such as swimming in rivers and pursuing birds. At this stage football wasn’t of interest and without a solid father figure we can assume there was no discipline instilled as the youngster roamed freely, which mostly likely would of been his way of escaping his environment.
By the age of 14 Garrincha had a job working for a textiles factory and during his time working there would be the catalyst in developing an interest into football. Playing the sport started by representing the company’s football team where his hidden footballing talent became apparent, as a result the demand for skills increased and this became a new hobby. During the next 4 to 5 years Garrincha’s performances amazed those fortunate enough to witness but it was still only fun with no genuine interest in a career as a professional and although clubs and scouts were aware of his ability, his physical deformities would be the deciding factor as no one would be willing to take him on beyond a trial.
At the age of 19, one could say it was only a matter of time as this gifted youngster cannot be ignored any more regardless of his physical condition, especially playing through his teens alongside men causing damage as oppose to breaking down on the field. That turned out to be the case as Botafogo took him on for a trial and in his first session, let’s just say he annihilated Brazilian international Nilton Santos with wizardry wing play and by Santos own admission, alluding to never of had someone effortlessly dribble past him. Naturally when something is too good to let go, Santos in Garrincha’s aid helped convince the club to sign him up on professional terms.
The teenager scores a hat-trick during his professional debut within the same year and although performances on the pitch warranted an international call up, it surprisingly took another 2 years before that became a reality. Garrincha single handedly continued to destroy teams and defenders in such a flamboyant and unpredictable manner, making it so difficult for any team to stop him and by now, another 2 years on, he played a pivotal role in Botafogo league championship win. It wasn’t until the following year in 1958 where Garrincha will become known on the world stage as he made the Brazilian world cup squad, although not involved in the couple of games, he certainly showcased plenty of reasons not to benched again and to date, Brazil have only lost one game with him present and haven’t lost with both Garrincha and Pele playing.
Unfortunately many people choose to remember his personal life, considering where he started not many if not none at all would of been able to match his achievements especially without the help and support currently available today. Garrincha is one of the greats and arguably one of the best, if not the best out and out wingers to ever play the game, setting the standard whilst paving the way for future wingers who posses similar ability.