Garrincha, Brazil’s Forgotten World Cup Star, Left in Pele Shadow
“When he came to Botafogo for a trial, he put the first ball he touched straight between my legs. A lot of people thought I would be offended but they were wrong. I told the directors there and then that they had to sign him. Fortunately, they listened to me.”
So said Nilton Santos of one of the most gifted players to have ever graced a football pitch. Manoel Francisco dos Santos, better known as Garrincha, was Botafogo and Brazil’s craque during the late 1950s and early 1960s, the ace in the hole and arguably the greatest player of his generation.
His style of play was worth the entrance fee alone and Botafogo milked that to the detriment of the player. The winger delayed a knee operation on numerous occasions as his absence from the side cost club directors enormous profits.
His performances for Botafogo in the 1961 and 1962 year’s Rio de Janeiro state championship were equally influential, helping the club to successive titles. But his relationship with the board was disintegrating, over what he considered a disproportionately low salary for a man who filled the club coffers.