Sócrates: Highlights from the Brazilian Legend's Career and Legacy
This week, still reeling over the loss of Wales coach Gary Speed, the footballing world has suffered another great loss. Brazilian midfield legend Sócrates, known as "The Doctor" for his actual license to practice medicine and his great precision and intelligence on the pitch, passed away over the weekend, a result of septic shock from food poisoning.
Sócrates, who made his trade predominantly at Brazilian club Corinthians, was known for his creativity, leadership and conviction on and off the pitch and he will be sorely missed by fans all over the world. Here are just a few of many highlights from his career, with video to relive all of the best moments. If you have some Sócrates moments you'd like to share, as always, have at it in the comments section.
Early Success with Botafogo
Although the greatest successes of his career were enjoyed with the national team and Corinthians, Brazilian football fans knew Sócrates was something special upon his arrival at Botafogo. He won a City of São Paulo Cup with the Pantera and was a key scorer in the Campeonato Paulista and the Campeonato de Serie A that year.
Three Campeonatos Paulista with Corinthians: 1979, 1982, 1983
Sócrates' visionary, intellectual play helped create one of the strongest midfields in Brazil at Corinthians and during his time at the club, he played a significant role in three Campeonato Paulista titles, all while exuding cool at all possible times. The pitch rush as the clock wound down in that last Campeonato Paulista is absolutely priceless.
Throughout his time at Corinthians, Sócrates would appear about 300 times in all competitions and score more than 170 goals.
Revolutionizing Corinthians with "Democracia"
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Football is generally its best when it is apolitical, but in spearheading the "Corinthians Democracy" movement upon his arrival at the club, Sócrates revolutionized how Corinthians operated and provided a framework for other clubs to follow, while also providing one of those great "how football explains the world" sort of teaching moments.
Frustrated with the authoritarian rule of the club (and Brazil's military rule at large), Sócrates and his teammate Wladimir launched a movement to make some changes. In addition to encouraging their teammates to vote on team matters, Sócrates and Wladimir used the model to convince supporters of the club to vote in Brazil's first multi-party election in nearly two decades, encouraging citizens to take a stake in their government no matter their beliefs.
That year, Corinthians won the Campeonato Paulista, one of the most important tournaments in Brazil, with "Democracia" emblazoned on their shirts.
As Sócrates put it:
"That was the greatest team I ever played in because it was more than sport. My political victories are more important than my victories as a professional player. A match finishes in 90 minutes, but life goes on."
Captaining Brazil During the 1982 World Cup
The Doctor never won a World Cup with the Selecão, but he will be remembered as a clever and capable captain during the 1982 tournament. Brazil were eliminated in the second round, but not without their fair share of beautiful play, including this splendid golazo, met, as the announcer points out, with stadium-wide shouts of "GOOAAAALLL!"
In total, he would earn 60 caps and 22 goals with the Brazilian national team throughout his career.
Another Wonderful Goal from '82
I could write anything in this slide, but honestly, the best way to experience Sócrates is to watch footage, if and where you can find it. So let's just sit back, relax and watch this beautiful exchange between Zico and Sócrates, which ended in a well-placed goal, an equalizer for Brazil in this match against Italy from '82.
The 1986 World Cup
Again, Sócrates left the tournament without a title, but this one saw the Selecão reach the quarterfinals against France.
Although it would be The Doctor's missed penalty that would contribute to Brazil's ultimate elimination from the tournament, up until then, he had a fantastic run, making an impact as an innovative playmaker and netting two goals.
As you can see in this video, which the editor has chosen to soundtrack to the wonderful Jorge Ben, with his quick back-heel flicks, architecture of plays and distinctive hairstyle, Sócrates just exuded style on the pitch.
Named to the FIFA 100, 2004
In 2004, Sócrates was named to his compatriot Péle's "FIFA 100" list as one of the greatest footballers of all time, joining his Selecão teammates Júnior, Falcão and Zico, among others. A quick look at this video will make it perfectly clear why.
Inducted into the Brazilian Football Hall of Fame, 2008
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In 2008, Sócrates went down in Brazilian footballing history when he was inducted into the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame at the Pacaembu ground in São Paulo.
Particularly fitting was the fact that there is now a tribute to Sócrates at Pacaembu, the ground of Corinthians, the club where The Doctor spent most of his career and had the biggest impact.
A Literary Legacy
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As his name suggests, the genius of Sócrates transpired not just on the pitch, but in other capacities as well. He was an intellectual, an activist, a doctor, a writer, a man who was not just the game he played.
Before his untimely passing this weekend, Sócrates was working on his first book, a fictionalized account of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Here's what he told The Guardian about it:
"The championship will be pure fiction and the final will be Brazil versus Argentina, with Argentina winning 2-0, both goals scored by Messi. Heh heh. If you have an idea for an English character, tell me, then we'll come up with various scenarios and then we'll put them all together. Everyone has different experiences in Brazil and we want to put in the best.
Can you imagine, say, a Chinese man watching a game in Manaus on a Sunday and then having to get to Salvador for a game on Wednesday? Not a chance he would make it! He'll get lost in the Pantanal [the world's largest wetland], then fall in love with, say, a Korean. Everyone who comes to Brazil falls in love with someone. Obviously! We're the most sexualised people in the world."
We're seriously hoping he finished it or that someone will, because from his description, it sounds like something we'd love to read. Football has few great Renaissance men, and this master of the joga bonito was surely one of them.
In His Honor, a Brasilerão Title
Over the weekend, just hours after his death, Sócrates' former club, Corinthians, honored their hero with a moment of silence, then a deafening roar, a chant of, "Doctor! Doctor!" They would go on to hold Palmeiras to a draw, securing the Brasilerão title for the first time in six years. A more fitting honor, you could not find.
As Corinthians midfielder Alex told the BBC:
"The best way for us to celebrate his memory is the title.
We hope we can lift the title, to win it in the name of Socrates, for the great idol that he is."