The debate over the best footballer ever usually centers around Pele and Diego Maradona but in Brazil many think the Garrincha was equal or better than Pele and it was on this day in 1933 that the forward was born in Brazil.
Garrincha, or the Little Bird, hardly looked like a top footballer with his right leg bent inwards and his left leg slightly shorter than the right and bowed outward but it was his magical legs that made him the best dribbler of all time.
While his dribbling was his signature, Garrincha boasted a powerful shot, dead ball specialist scoring multiple times directly from corner kicks and was ahead of his time in the ability to use both feet.
Brazil only lost one match, the 1966 FIFA World Cup match against Hungary, with Garrincha in the lineup. While earning his 50 caps, Brazil won the 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cups. He was the top player in the 1962 FIFA World Cup.
--- The Brazil national soccer team jersey is a classic and a must for all passionate fans of A Seleção and the beautiful game. The World Soccer Shop has the best selection of officially licensed Brazil soccer gear. ---
His dribbling skills and flair were summed up in a friendly ahead of the 1958 FIFA World Cup against Fiorentina. The forward beat 4 defenders and the goalkeeper but rather than score immediately waited for another defender to track back before beating him and putting the ball in the back of the net.
It is rumored that his beating players on the dribble was the inspiration for the crowd cheers of ‘ole’ at soccer matches.
He lived life off the pitch with the same intensity he played on the pitch battling alcoholism, inherited from his father, his entire life and having several wives and mistresses and 14 known children.
Garrincha died of cirrhosis of the liver on January 20, 1983. He died poor and with very little recognition of his past playing days in a country where football was king. His funeral procession from the Maracana to Pau Grande drew thousands of well wishers and his epitaph reads "Here rests in peace the one who was the Joy of the People – Mané Garrincha."
Also on this day in soccer history in 1979, Lazio fan Vincenzo Paparelli was killed after being struck by a firerocket thrown by a Roma supporter during the Rome derby.
1933 – Garrincha, Brazilian footballer (d. 1983)
1946 – Wim Jansen, Dutch footballer and coach
1962 – Erik Thorstvedt, Norwegian footballer
1974 – Vicente Moreno, Spanish footballer
1974 – Dejan Stefanović, Serbian footballer
1980 – Alan Smith, English footballer
1981 – Milan Baroš, Czech footballer
1981 – Solomon Andargachew, Ethiopian footballer
1981 – Nick Montgomery, English footballer
1984 – Obafemi Martins, Nigerian footballer
1984 – Jefferson Farfán, Peruvian footballer