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Cursed Garrincha – Contrasti Magazine

Remembering the crippled champion who loved drinking, smoking and playing football like no other.

Bangu is the second largest neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. A large carpet of houses nestled between the mountains. It is a residential area reserved for the middle class and ordinary people, far from the favelas and skyscrapers of the city center. It is the middle of the night between January 19 and 20, 1983, the time reserved for drunks, prostitutes and night watchmen A ghost haunts the houses. He has the acrid smell of alcohol and someone who hasn't been home for days, his jacket is threadbare, his black hair is disheveled and his gait is limping. He is looking for the way home, where he has not been back for four days and his wife Vanderléia, the youngest of many, is waiting for him. It is the ghost of a champion, his name is Manoel Francisco dos Santos, to his friends Manè, to everyone else Garrincha.

“When you hear the name Pelè, Brazilians take off their hat when they hear the name Garrincha tear“.

Garrincha was born in Pau Grande, a suburb north of Rio on the edge of the jungle. His early life seems to be written hypothetically Amazonian Dickens. A little Tarzan, a little Oliver Twist, lives an idyllic and wild childhood, spending it in the mud, swimming in streams and chasing sparrows. Just at one sparrow specimen, Garrincha In fact, he owes his nickname to an intuition from his sister. Smoker and addicted to the bottle since I was tenAt the age of fourteen he began working in the local textile factory, but was fired a year later for non-compliance and was reinstated a short time later only on the condition that he play football on the factory team.

Little Manoel It seemed designed for anything but sport. Polio had left him crippled: squinting eyes, a deformed spine, the right knee affected by valgus and the left by varus and, most importantly, the left leg was six centimeters shorter than the right. But it was precisely from these shortcomings that Garrincha drew his strength.



He was the one first Big 7 in football history, ahead of Best, Beckham and Ronaldo. As the prototype of the dribbling winger, he caused the defenders to go crazy with his diving runs. In fact, his shorter left leg gave him the innate ability to lower to the side and then spring to the right like a spring. Unpredictable, He slipped out of the opponent's block like a sparrow escaping from a cage. Garrincha danced around the ball with a grace unnatural for his physique and a technique that was anachronistic for the time, as if he had been catapulted into the jungle from the future.

“How can I? it's simple. When I dribble, I go towards my opponent. When I get closer, I throw the ball behind him: I push him forward and run. If there are two opponents, I defeat both the first and also the second with a light touch he can't play the foolHe has to compete quickly against me and I overtake him in a sprint.”.

He was an innovator in the game of football. Completely uncontrollable, free and anarchic on the pitch, the Brazilian coach Feola had to remove him from the team several times because of his excesses and then could no longer do without him. A national psychologist Green Gold he even called him a disabled person, estimated that he had the intelligence of a 9-year-old. But it is precisely his naive soul that made him invent. Garrincha was the essence of football as such, without setups and different tactics. Just a man and a ball. Football in its purest form.

He spent most of his career at Botafogo, where one of the coaches wrote about his relationship at the time of his audition: “The player showed exceptional qualities. He only has one flaw that I think can be fixed: he dribbles too much.”. But with the Brazil jersey he wrote the legend. His twenty minutes against the USSR during the Swedish Expeditionary Groups are described by the lucky few present as One of the most important moments in football history, with all respect to the unfortunate opponent. Four years later, freed from the annoying shadow of the injured Pelè, he became the top scorer in the '62 World Cup, the best player and the authentic leader of the national team Green Gold.

“In Sweden ('58) and also in Chile ('62) he was the real protagonist. When they were at their limit and didn't know what to do, my compatriots passed the ball to them on the right and Garrincha prepared the ball for the others and for himself..

Jose Altafini

Known bad lifeIt is said that the 1958 World Cup was celebrated twice in the bars of Pau Grande: at the final whistle and on Garrincha's return. He scattered thirteen children all over the world, recognized: eight with the first woman, two with the second, one with the singer Elsa Soares, one with the last woman and a final one, a certain Ulf Lindberg, the result of the Swedish World Cup. His capital? Everything dissolved at the bottom of a bottle Cachacaa very popular brandy in Brazil.

Almost ruined, he also moved to Rome for a while, where he lived as a testimonial for the Brazilian Coffee Institute. It emerges from the stories of these years a character Pasolini, divided between the taverns of the capital and the games on the asphalt of the Campo de' Fiori or on the beach of Torvaianica.

In 1969, he was also involved in a car accident in which his mother-in-law was thrown through the windshield and killed.

Consumed by misery and guilt his alcoholism worsened, until that night in January 1983. After returning home after four days in the bars of Rio, he was admitted to the Boa Vista Hospital in the Santa Teresa Pavilion, which was reserved for alcoholics. He is found dead by nurses the next day due to pulmonary edema. His funeral was an early carnival. His body, transported by fire engine, was followed by the jubilant Brazilian people from the Maracana to Pau Grande, the site of his burial. Then a few years ago the news: Garrincha's bones have disappeared. Even when he was dead, no one could lock him up.

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