Monday, December 05, 2011

Sócrates - Brazilian and World Football Legend

Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, born 19th February 1933 in Belém do Pará, Brazil died on Sunday, aged 57.

Sócrates had been admitted to the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo with food poisoning, and was on a life-support machine with septic shock when he passed away in the early hours of the 4th December 2011. He leaves a wife and six sons.

It was the third time in four months he had been treated at an intensive care unit since alcohol abuse caused gastrointestinal bleeding secondary to portal hypertension (causing his stomach to hemorrhage). By far the most common cause of this is cirrhosis of the liver, and Sócrates was known to be both a heavy drinker and a chain smoker.

However less than a fortnight ago he insisted he was not dependent on drink.
He told SporTV: "I never had many problems with alcohol because I was not addicted. All the time I interacted with alcohol as if it were a partner, but I never had withdrawal symptoms. I spent long periods without use. I do not feel like drinking. It is five months since I put a drop of alcohol in my mouth. I do not miss it. Obviously you have to change some of your behaviour and avoid risky situations, so to speak. In my case, it is easy. I have no addiction. For those with addiction it is much more complicated."

He began playing football professionally in 1974 for Botafogo in Ribeirão Preto, but spent the majority of his career from 1978 to 1984 with Corinthians in São Paulo.

He also played for Italian club Fiorentina and the Brazilian clubs Flamengo and Santos towards the end of his career,

An astute passer and reader of the game, Sócrates had a uniquely nonchalant playing style, using the backheel to telling effect and scoring memorable goals with both feet.

Sócrates was capped 60 times for Brazil between May 1979 and June 1986, scoring 22 goals. He played for, and captained, Brazil in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. In Spain the world fell in love with Brazil's incredible football, with their precise, brilliant passing under the command of the maestro Tele Santana.
Socrates was part of a golden Brazilian generation of players who included Zico, Falcao, Júnior, Oscar, Cerezo and Eder.

Brazil lost 3-2 to Italy in the quarter-final in what is often described as one of the all-time classic World cup matches. Brazilian fans and journalists recognized that this team was indeed excellent. What happened to Brazil in 1982 was similar to what had happened to Holland in 1974 and Hungary in 1954 - the best team in the competition failed to win the tournament.

Sócrates also appeared in the 1986 World Cup held in Mexico, where Brazil lost to France in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out. it was the last time he would wear the famous yellow shirt.

He was nicknamed 'O Doutor' - The Doctor - as he graduated as medical student during the early years of his football career.

Former Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who trained Sócrates with the national team in 1983-84, told Reuters: "He was the most intellectual of the players I worked with, intelligent, objective and he had opinions that were his own and firm about anything and mainly politics. He was a genius on the field. He marked a generation with the technical quality and intelligence of his football.....He was one of the great icons of that (1982) team that marveled the world."

He retired from professional football in 1989, at the age of 35.

In 2004, Socrates made a memorable cameo for English amateur side Garforth Town for 12 minutes in front of a club-record 1,000 people at Wheatley Park against Tadcaster Albion, in a 2-2 draw.

Pelé named him as one of the Top 125 Living Footballers in March 2004, and World Soccer named him one of 100 best footballers in history. In October 2008, Sócrates was inducted into the Pacaembu Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame.

After retiring as a player he practised medicine at Ribeirão Preto, and also worked as a media pundit.

Just when he was fighting to stay away from the drink, those many years of alcohol abuse finally proved to be his nemesis. The complications from years of drinking have cut his journey short, the journey of one of the most outstanding, iconic footballers in our history.

Career history:

1974: Makes professional debut for Botafogo Futebol Clube in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo.
1978: Joins Corinthians, going on to play almost 300 games for the club.
1979: Makes Brazil debut, going on to win 60 caps and score 22 goals.
1982: Captains Brazil in the 1982 World Cup, but they fail to make it past the second group stage.
1983: South American Footballer of the Year.
1984: Joins Italian side Fiorentina.
1986: Returns to Brazil to play for Clube de Regatas do Flamengo in Zona Sul, Rio de Janeiro.
1986: Plays for Brazil in the World Cup, but they lose in the quarter-finals to France on penalties.
1986: Retires from international football.
1988: Joins Santos Futebol Clube in Santos, São Paulo.
1989: Returns to Botafogo Futebol Clube.
1989: Retires from professional football.
2004: More than a decade after retiring from action, he agrees to a one-month player-coaching deal with English Northern Counties East side Garforth Town.
2008: Inducted into the Pacembu Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame.

Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, Rest in Peace.

No comments: