4. Zico

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Football Icon 4 : Zico

Football being Football , conjecture and argument are part-and-parcel of the game . It is about Opinions , as somebody once said . Well , upon the issue of the 1982 World Cup , or indeed the Question , as to which was the Finest Side never to win the World Cup ? The Focus of today’s piece , when at the peak of his powers , had a legitimate argument to be included in both .


Born , Arthur Antunes Coimbra , in Rio de Janiero , Brazil , on 3 March 1953 – unlike many of his contemporaries , into a Middle Class Family . One of 5 Brothers , all players , he was youngest and smallest – indeed , one of his Brothers , two of them , Antunes , whom played Professionally and , Edu represented Brazil 54 times over a 7 year period . So much so , that Zico was put on a diet of Steroids and Vitamins in an attempt to Bulk Him Up . A Family Friend , and Radio Reporter, Celso Garcia , saw the Boy and persuaded Senor Anthunes to take him to Flemenco for a Trial . As the Family were all Flemenco Supporters , it was not a difficult decision .

Once under The Wing of Flemenco , he met the Physical Education Coach , Jose Roberto Francalacci , whom imposed a strict regime of Muscle Building Exercises and further adapted Zico’s Vitamins , etc , Programme , all in an attempt to make , ” O Gallinho ” – The Little Rooster , Bulk Up . His diminutive frame , yet inordinate talent saw him enjoy success at Youth Level , scoring 88 goals in 110 Matches . As a result , in 1971 , Zico was promoted to the First Team and became the Lynchpin of the Side during their Halcyon Period of their History . The won the Rio State Championship – similar to the Old Northern / Southern Leagues in England in the 1970′s 5 times . The Brazilian League in the 1980′s in 1980 , 1982 , 1983 and 1987 . They also lifted the Copa Libertadores – The South American Champions League , in 1981 . Moreover , he himself was South American Footballer of the Year in 1977 , 1981 and 1982 , and World Footballer of the Year in 1983 . Despite his stature , he was the fulcrum of the Team . Two footed , known for his close control and sublime , Body Swerve , but it was his Free Kicks , Dead Ball skills gave him his initial Global Renown .

On the International Front , Zico made the World Cup Squad for Argentina 1978 , was injured for much of it , but also was an anathema to Coach , Claudio Coutinho’s Defence System , and the two did not see eye-to-eye . His involvement , there was limited during the Competition , but , in the final minute of a Group Match , versus Sweden , Brazil were awarded a corner with the game standing at 1-1 . The kick is taken and , surprisingly , Zico , small as he was , rises like a Salmon and heads the ball home . However , and in , St. Domingo link #1 ; the Goal is disallowed by the , Terror of Treorchy , Referee Clive Thomas , whom noted that he had blown the whistle with the ball in the air !!! He did mnge to score a legitimate strike in the 1978 Competition , in the 3-0 triumph over Peru , thus opening his World Cup Goals Account , but it was not enough to save the Brazilians as their tactics and ageing side cost them .

Zico entered the 1982 World Cup in Spain as South American Footballer of The Year and with Coutinho now gone . he inherited – via Revelino , Pele’s Famous #10 Jersey and became Brazil’s , Go-To-Man . The side was now based on Youth , but also exceptional amounts of technical ability all over the Pitch . Socrates , Falcao , Julio Cesaer , etc . Legends , not just of Brazilian Football but also those of The World Cup itself . Zico did not score in the Opening Fixture for the South Americans , a 2-1 victory over the Soviet Union . However , in the next game , versus Scotland , he scored the goal that would make his name World-Wide . Utterly irresponsibly , Dundee United’s David Narey , had the audacity to score a Wonder-Strike and take the lead . However , as any Member of the Tartan Army will testify , it only served to make them mad . Brazil get a free kick on the edge of the Scotland Area , up steps Zico . The 4 Man Wall takes the left hand side – of the Goal , as he looked . The Goalkeeper , the Centre and the right hand side . The Brazil #10 trots up to the ball , slightly angles his back and strokes the thing , with his right foot , and it curls into the top corner of the net . Alan Rough , The Scots Goalkeeper , takes two steps – it actually looks like he is about to run , but doesn’t even get a chance to raise an arm to stop it , and is in fact , facing the right hand side Corner Flag by the time the ball hits the Net . There is certainly an element of Pathos to the scene , but it is secondary to the exquisite beauty of the Football Technique , which , basically , launched Zico into the International Stratosphere , as regards his Personal Global impact . The South Americans go on to win 4-1 , with strikes from Eder – a Chip from the edge of the Area ; and Falcao , a goal not unlike Narey’s , both go down in the W/C/ Super-Strikes Annals , but it is Zico’s name which is on the World’s Lips . He also nets in the following game , a 4-0 triumph over New Zealand , he scores 2 – one a side on , Bicycle-Type Effort , and makes another goal . He is now Christened , ” The White Pele ” by the World’s Media – St. Domingo Link #2 -; It HAD however , been done . Colin Harvey , anyone ..???

Having qualified from a relatively Pain-Free Group , Brazil are drawn against their Arch-Enemies , Argentina . Still smarting from their , effective , Non-Show Four Years earlier as their Rivals , hosted and lifted the World Cup . Thus , the nation looks to Arturo . He does not disappoint . In allowing Eder to take a Free Kick on the edge of the Area , the Winger hits the bar , but as the ball drops with the Keeper still aground , The Little Rooster nips in to poke the ball over the line , and put Brazil 1-0 in front . They go on to triumph , 3-1 – as Maradonna is Sent Off . In the 2nd Group Stage , they face Italy , in a game later termed , The Match of the Century ..” Brazil were the Pre-Tournament favourites, due almost exclusively to their attacking prowess . The Italians , on the other hand , despite beating Argentina , 1-0 in the First Round , had drawn their subsequent 3 ties , and were the personification of Boss Enzo Bearzot’s Defensive Methodology . He instructs his Midfield Enforcer , Claudio Gentile to Man-Mark Zico – he earns a Yellow Card and a subsequent Ban , as the Italians take the lead after only 5 minutes – Rossi , fresh back from a 2 year ban for Drug Abuse . Socrates – The Doctor ; after a , 1-Two with Zico , equalises for Brazil . However , everyone knew that Brazil had a Weak Underbelly – their Defence . As if to verify this fact to the Eyes of the World , Cerezo attempts a ridiculous cross field pass to his Centre Back Colleague , which is intercepted by Rossi whom breaks on goal and scores , 2-1 . Falcao then replies with a typical strike from the edge of the Box , but with 20 minutes remaining , Italy win a Corner . From the kick , the ball breaks to Rossi , whom spins and crashes the ball home . Thus , the Brazilians , the exponents of flair , attacking prowess , and above all , skill , had been overturned by the anathema of that ethos .

He returned to Flemenco where , the following Campaign , he was voted South American Player of the Year in 1983 . At the end of that eason he accepted a Multi-Million Dollar move to , ironically , Italy , and after rejecting moves to A.S. Roma and A.C. Milan , Serie A Side , Udinese . His debut Season , he formed an excellent partnership with Franco Causio , as Zico finishes one behind Serie A Golden Boot Winner , Michel Platini of Juventus – Zico scored 19 Goals , having played 6 fewer Matches . His Second Campaign as a Bianconeri , was not as effective due to a combination of injuries and suspensions . At the conclusion of his 2nd Year , Zico decided to take up the offer of a return to Flemenco – funded by Local T.V. Companies . Of his time at Udine , Arturo said , ” The Eyes of The Footballing World were on Serie A then . It was a really good period , during which I proved myself by living up to expectations when playing in another Country . ”

Upon his return , and after a violent tackle by Marcio Nunes of Bangu , Zico was out of the game for some months . Indeed , he left for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico , still injured . By now , 33 , he was brought on – in response to the Fans constantly singing his name ; in the Quarter Final against France , but went on to miss a Penalty in normal time . The Match finished 1-1 , and although Zico scored in the Shoot-Out , Socrates and Julio Cesaer did not . Thus , Brazil were defeated by Les Blues . Once more , and for the final time , Arturo’s World Cup Dreams ended in heartbreak .

He returned to Rio , and led Flemenco to their fourth National Title . Arturo Antunes made his final appearance for his Boyhood Club , when facing a World Cup Masters Team , in December 1989 . The opposition contained Franco Causio , Claudio Gentile , Alberto Tarantini , Jorge Valdano , Paul Breitner , Karl-Heinz Rumminige and Falcao . He played 731 Matches for Flemenco, their 2nd highest , and having scored 508 Goals and is hardly surprisingly the Club’s Record Goalscorer . His achievements for Flemenco led Brazillian Singer-Songwriter , Jorge Benjor , composed a Hit Song lauding The Little Rooster – Carmisa 10 de Gavea .

Immediately upon his Retirement , he was appointed Brazilian Sports Minister , by Prime Minister , Fernando Colloe de Mello . Zico remained In Office for a Year , and his most important piece of Legislation concerned the Regulation of the Business Practices of Sports Teams . In 1991 , he was convinced to put his boots back on , as he agreed to join the fledgling , J-League in Japan – which was set to Officially launch in 1993 . He represented Kashima Antlers – Suminto as they were known , Pre-Launch . Arturo stayed for 3 Years , playing 57 Matches and scoring 27 Goals . Helping them , in the process , to their inaugural Honour , the J League Suntory Series , as the Japanese Fans nicknamed him , ” God of Soccer ” . . He retired Professional in 1994 , taking up Beach Soccer . The following Year , 1995 , he returned to Kashima Antlers as Technical Advisor . He built up the Club from such meagre beginnings to be a major force in Japanese Football that the Club Honoured him with a Statue outside the Ground .

He went on to act as Brazilian Technical Advisor as the Team went on to defea in the Final of the1998 World Cup in France . From there , in 2002 , he was appointed successor to Frenchman Phillipe Trousier as Coach of the Japanese National Team . During his tenure , they won 3 Asian Cups and qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany . His next stop was Turkey and Fenerbace . It was a success , as in his Debut Season , he won the League Title and Turkish Super Cup . The subsequent Campaign saw The Turks reach the Quarter Finals of The Champions League , their finest ever showing to date . There too , the Fans had a Moniker for Zico . ” King Arthur ” – The Team’s Nickname is The Knights , so , ” King Arthur and his Knights …” He resigned as Fenerbace Manager in 2008 , when it was widely reported that he was about to be offered the Job at Newcastle Unied . As it turned out , it never materialised , but he was nevertheless a legitimate candidate in European Football . His next move was first to Uzbekistan to Coach F.C. Bunyodkor , then was appointed the Hot Seat at C.S.K.A. Moscow . However , his Reign was a succinct one , lasting only until September 10 , 2009 , only 8 months into the role . He progressed from Russia to Greece and Olympiakos , taking over from Temuri Ketsbaia . Once more , he remained for only Months , before being dismissed . Most recently , he has returned to Flemenco as Soccer Executive Director with a 4 Year Contract .

As regards Qualification Criteria for Our Football Icons Series, Zico , despite having never achieved success as regards Trophies with Brazil , he remains a genuine Bona-Fide Applicant . His God Given ability was truly a pleasure to behold , and undoubtedly spawned countless impersonators whom later became Players themselves . In addition , he played in , what I stated at the outset , is , to most independent observers opinions , one of the 2 Finest Sides never to win a World Cup , as it was , without doubt a true example of , The Beautiful Game . He did , without doubt , improve the lives of his Community and his Supporters as a direct consequence . Furthermore , in his Governmental Role , albeit short , he exhibited a Humanitarian side which only boosts his standing in my eyes .

” It’s always important to leave a Legacy , but what matters to a Professional is , The Title . I’m happy to be part of a Team like that , and people everywhere still remember us , but I’d be even happier if we’d won . ”

Written in Britain .

Look After Your peoples .

Peace Out .




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