All-Time Top 50: Number 21 - Garrincha
By Simon Head
Updated Friday, 14th October 2005
His small stature led to his nickname, which translates as ‘Little Bird', but Brazilian winger Garrincha was one of Brazil's best-ever players in the late 50's and early 60's.
Despite having a deformed left leg from an operation as a child, Garrincha was the world’s best winger in the 50’s and 60’s – indeed, some suggested that his slight disability actually helped him perfect his trademark body swerve. He is revered in Brazil as one of the nation’s greatest-ever players – and he is one of a select few to have won back-to-back World Cups.
He was part of the victorious 1958 World Cup winning Brazil side, but he came into his own four years later in 1962 in Chile. With Pele ruled out through injury after just one match, Brazil needed someone to step up and deliver the goods – and Garrincha was that man. He led the side all the way to the final with some amazing wingplay, plus a superb goal from 30 yards against England.
His influence took Brazil past the hosts in the semi finals and into the final against Czechoslovakia. Brazil won the match and retained the World Cup, a feat that hasn’t been repeated since.
Many fans in Brazil rate Garrincha as highly as Pele himself, such was his ability as a footballer. The ‘little bird’ is a legend in Brazil – and one of world football’s all-time greats