Sócrates (LEGEND)

Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, commonly known as Sócrates was a former Brazilian professional footballer who played primarily as an attacking midfielder but also a striker and winger on rare occasions. He was also known as the “Doctor” as he was a licensed medical practitioner during his sporting career.

Save for a year in Italy with ACF Fiorentina (and one post-retirement match with Garfoth Town), he played exclusively inside Brazil. In his native country he played for a number of sides but is most widely and intimately associated with Corinthians, where he is regarded as a club legend. He played 60 games for the Brazilian National team scoring 22 goals in the process and captained the legendary 1982 World Cup Squad, widely regarded as the best team to never win the world cup.

Sócrates didn’t start his career as a full-time professional footballer till he reached the age of 25, in order to complete his medical degree. Despite his relatively late start, the doctor made up for it in specular fashion. At Corinthians he would manage 172 goals in 297 appearance, making him the clubs joint 7th highest goal scorer of all time. Alongside his on-field heroics, Sócrates was also a major figure for “Corinthians Democracy.”

This was a system of governing, in which several club decisions were voted on by members of the playing, coaching and technical staff. He once proudly boasted that the third-choice keeper had the same vote as him, the captain of Brazil at the time. The democracy was a form of symbolic defiance against the military dictatorship that was endemic across Brazil at the time. Famed Psychiatrist and writer Flavio Gikovate remarked, “He was unquestionably vital to Brazil. His participation in the politics [that] ended up leading to the end of the dictatorship is undeniable.”

His playing style was characterized by an effortlessness and elegance. He often would choose to nonchalantly move across the field and was renowned for his excellent vision, creativity and above all else intelligence. His signature move was the blind back heel, a trick that earned him the title “golden heel.” Pelé would once remark that he was better playing backwards than most players playing forward.

An advocate for the traditional style of Brazilian football. The 1982 team he captained captured the imagination of fans of the beautiful game around the world with some commentators considering it to be the most artistic national team ever and the purest representation of Brazilian football flair. He made another appearance on the World Cup stage with the 1986 squad, who, though good, were not nearly as spectacular. He also played in the 1979 and 1983 Copa America where Brazil finished 3rd and 2nd respectively.

Though he may have never won a title with Brazil, he still managed to be included in the 1982 World Cup Team of the Tournament and is currently Brazil’s 8th highest scorer in World Cup history. In 1983 he was voted Best South American Player as well.

After retirement he continued to be an icon for his country. He was voted as the 80th greatest Brazilian of all time in a survey conducted by a local television station in 2012. He is of a select few to be included in the Pacaembu and Maracanã Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame. While alive he was also listed in Pelé’s list of the 125 greatest players alive and World Soccer’s Greatest 100 players of the 20th Century.

His death in 2011 shocked the nation of Brazil and lead to tributes all around the world. President of Brazil at the time, Dilma Rousseff, lamented, “”On the field, with his talent and sophisticated touches, he was a genius. Off the field… he was active politically, concerned with his people and his country.”

Written by Brian Kazaara, owner of Dr. Socrates