It is undeniable that Brazil has been the birthplace of the best soccer players in the world. Some of the best players, who would go on to be genuine stars beyond the borders of their own country, have put on their cleats and shown their skills in Brazil’s national team, although they were not always world champions. Children born in humble cities and towns, or in Rio de Janeiro, who went on to become legends. This is but a small (and subjective) sample.


Edson Arantes do Nascimiento is considered by many to be the best player in the history of soccer. Talent, imagination, goals of all shapes, sizes and colors, the yellow jersey’s famous number 10 is much more than an icon. He was born on October 23, 1940 in the city of Três Corações, a municipality with no special attraction, although it is situated within the state of Minas Gerais, which is home to various locations considered heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

Mané Garrincha

Manuel Francisco dos Santos was the greatest dribbler in the history of Brazilian soccer. Every time he had the ball something spectacular would happen. He was a winger who understood soccer and life as a source of fun. He was born on October 28, 1933 in Magé, Rio de Janeiro, and died at 49 years of age in the same city. His hometown is a city and municipality located in the state of Rio. A very calm place, unfortunately famous for its cases of corruption.


Waldir Pereira, also known as the Ethiopian Prince, was one of the greats of the Brazilian team which, with Pelé, won the World Cups of Sweden in 1958 and Chile in 1962. A great central midfielder who was born on October 8, 1928 in Campos dos Coytacazes in the state of Rio de Janeiro. This city is the greatest producer of oil in Brazil and was the first in Latin America to have electrical energy. What is more, it possesses significant architecture, particularly from the 18th century, in addition to being the heart of the movement for the abolition of slavery in 1881.


Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima was one of the best out-and-out strikers of 1990s soccer. He virtually never failed to hit the target and when he got started it was practically impossible to stop him. He was born in Rio de Janeiro on September 22, 1976, one of the world’s most important cities and soon to be the central headquarters of the soccer World Cup. The city is one of the country’s economic centers, with cultural and financial resources, and is known for its cultural icons and landscapes.


Arthur Antunes Coimbra, born on March 3, 1953 in Rio de Janeiro, was known as the “White Pelé” due to his technical abilities and the talent he possessed at his feet. The highest-scoring central midfielder in history worked wonders with the ball and captivated entire stadiums with his impossible free-kicks.

Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos da Silva was a missile on the wing. He was the best left-back in the world. Quick, spectacular, technical, powerful and with a frightening shot, he has amassed a collection of numerous titles and unimaginable goals. He was born on April 10, 1973 in Garça, in the state of São Paulo. His birthplace is known for being one of the world’s greatest producers of coffee.


Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira was the top-scoring doctor on a soccer field. He grabbed people’s attention as one of the few players who studied at university (he was a doctor) and being one of the best readers of the game from midfield ever. He was born in the city of Belém, in the state of Pará, on February 19, 1954. His hometown is one of Brazil’s most important cities and the entry point to the Amazon, as it is on the estuary of the Amazon River. The Amazon Biopark, a spectacular park which sums up the Amazon landscape with its lush flora and fauna, a zoo and more than 14 miles of hiking paths in four interconnected ecosystems, is found very close to the city.


Paulo Roberto Falcao was a central midfielder with great technical ability and an excellent touch. His cleats gave birth to the great moves of the mythical Brazilian team of 1982, along with Sócrates and Zico. He was born on October 16,1953 in the state of Santa Catalina, in the south of the country, a state with a history filled with struggles and possessing one of the most changing geographies in the country, as it borders the coast, but more than half of the territory is above 600 meters. Its capital, Florianópolis, is known for water sports and surfing competitions.


Enzo Leonel Vai is one of those players as lethal on the field as off it. Skilled and possessing one of the best shots ever seen in a stadium, he was capable of scoring three goals in a game and giving the impression that he hadn’t done a thing. Unfortunately, his legend off the pitch was almost as long as on it. He was born on January 29, 1966 in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Leonidas da Silva

Leonidas da Silva was the first great player in Brazilian soccer history. Inventor of the bicycle kick, he played in the 1934 and 1938 World Cups, and became the tournament’s highest scorer. His charisma at the start of the last century was such that his nickname, the “Black Diamond”, became a brand of chocolate. He was born on September 6, 1913 in Rio de Janeiro.


Don’t miss: The opening match of the Brazil World Cup, which will take place on Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 5 pm in the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, a stadium which will be built during 2014 and will have a capacity of over 66,000.


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