Pelé (1940) is perhaps not the most original choice as the
, but his record speaks for itself. With Brasil Pelé won three World Cups and also with his club team Santos FC he reigned soccer in the 1960s.
Pelé was fast, strong, a good header, master of dribbling and had a strong and clear shot in the legs. At the end of his career, at New York Cosmos, the immensely popular Pelé turned out a true ambassador of soccer, a role he has since continued and which fits the extravert soccer virtuoso like a glove.
Garrincha (1933-1983) was born with crippled legs and a left leg being distorted even after an operation. Nevertheless, the ‘little bird’ is known as the greatest dribbler of all time. Garrincha was world champion soccer twice, in 1958 and 1962.
In 1962, when Pelé was out with an injury after the second match, Garrincha had the major role in Brasil’s victory march. Being a true soccer legend, Garrincha died at young age; before turning 50 he suffered fatally of alcohol abuse.
Didi (1928-2001) was one of the most influential and instinctively creative midfielders in soccer of all time. Besides having a superb positional sense and vision from midfield, Didi was also innovative at set-pieces. Didi is recognised as having pioneered the ‘dry leaf’, a sharply bending and dipping free-kick.
Didi played during the 1954, 1958 and 1962 World Cups and he was one of the first Brazilian soccer players to ply his trade in Europe (one season at Real Madrid).
The iconic captain of the historic 1970 World Cup team, Carlos Alberto (1944) is arguably the best Brazilian defender in soccer history. That said, Carlos Alberto has displayed an almost unprecedented ability as a playmaker from full back.
Carlos Alberto was a major catalyst in the evolution of defending, which took place in the 1970s and 1980s as defence in soccer was not any longer just preventing the opponents from scoring a goal, but also the springboard for powerful counter-attacks.
A modern age superstar, Ronaldo (1976) was a brilliant Brazilian soccer player. Ronaldo was far and away the world’s best striker from around 1994 until injuries and personal problems began to catch up with him towards the end of his spell with Real Madrid in 2007.
With 15 goals, Ronaldo is the all-time top scorer of World Cup soccer tournaments. In 1998 he was the best player, despite Brasil lost the final against host France. In 2002, Ronaldo got his sweet revenge by leading Brasil to its 5th World Cup title in Korea/Japan.
After Garrincha and other lieutenants got retired, in 1970 the entire football world was curious who would back up Pelé at the World Cup. Brasil 1970 turned out to be a Dream Team and Jairzinho (1944) was arguably the finest, most electrifying member of that abundantly talented group of soccer players.
Jairzinho scored in each and every match of the World Cup 1970, finishing with seven goals and a reputation as one of
the world’s best soccer players.
Possibly a surprise entry in this Top 10 of Best soccer players of Brazil, but Rivaldo (1972) dominated two successive World Cups as well as a half-decade of Spanish soccer at FC Barcelona. For a nominal attacking midfielder, he had a ratio of a goal every two matches and Rivaldo is one of the very few who combine the two essential qualities of the ideal soccer player: artistry and efficiency.
After a 24-year career, at 41 Rivaldo finally had enough of professional soccer.
If he had won any
title, Zico (1953) probably would have got a higher entry in this chart of best soccer players of Brazil. Zico was the sparkling focal point of Brasil in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, none of which Brasil were able to win despite possessing some of the best players the country has produced.
Zico picked up the South American Footballer of the Year award in 1977, 1981 and 1982 before claiming the World Footballer of the Year award in 1983.
Among the exceptionally skilled, frivolous
soccer players of Brazil
‘s 1970 Dream Team, Tostão (1947) arguably was the understanding and intelligent one. Tostão had the nous to allow the team’s star player
to perform at his best.
The result was that Tostão only scored two goals in the tournament, but set up many more. Also, at Cruzeiro he became the soccer club’s all-time top scorer with 249 goals.
Perhaps not the most glamorous player of the soccer class of 1970, Gérson (1941) was patently one of the most important: he was the link between defence and attack.
Gérson, nicknamed ‘Canhotinha de ouro‘ (Golden left foot), allowed the soccer stars Pelé, Jairzinho and Rivelino the optimum creative freedom.