Garrincha: The angel with bent leg

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On the eve of his 84th LNTUP wishes him a very Happy Birthday. If ever a footballer displayed an inexhaustible lust for life on and off the pitch it was the great Brazilian Mané Garrincha. Born on October 28, 1933, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Garrincha overcame a series of physical defects to become one of his country’s greatest soccer players.

Garrincha joined the Rio Janeiro club Botafogo in 1953, and recorded a hat trick in his first-team debut that July. Although he was passed over for a spot on the Brazilian team for the 1954 World Cup, he quickly became known for his dazzling dribbling displays and confounding moves that left defenders helpless. His entertaining style of play earned him more nicknames, including “Alegria do Povo”—Joy of the People.


Garrincha during his days at Botafogo


Garrincha played 50 international matches for Brazil between 1955 and 1966, and was a starter for the national team in the 1958, 1962 and 1966 World Cups. Brazil only lost one match with him on the pitch, against Hungary at the 1966 World Cup. This was the last time Garrincha played in National team. Pelé did not play the game against Hungary, and thus Brazil never lost when Garrincha and Pelé were in the same lineup.


Garrincha with his fellow Brazilian Pele


Coming to his personal life he was an incorrigible alcoholic and womanizer. He fathered 14 children by 5 different women. He had a lengthy and sulphurous association with a samba singer. Later he was involved in a car crash in which her mother-in-law died.

However, in his later days Garrincha lost control over his life as he spiraled into alcoholism. Penniless and stricken by liver cirrhosis, Garrincha died on January 20, 1983, after lapsing into an alcoholic coma. Despite his late-life troubles, thousands of fans came to view his body at Estádio do Maracanã and to pay their respects to the man who once inspired so much joy on the soccer pitch. With Brazil named the host country of the 2014 World Cup, administrators set about repairing Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha in time for tournament matches. Renovated to hold more than 70,000 fans, the stadium had its official inauguration in May 2013.


Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha


He had many nicknames including ‘O Anjo de Pernas Tortas’, ‘The Angel With Bent Legs’ and Alegria do Povo ‘The Joy of the People’ but the world would simply know the boy as Garrincha.