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Gérson in 1963
Personal information
Full name Gérson de Oliveira Nunes
Date of birth (1941-01-11) 11 January 1941 (age 83)
Place of birth Niterói, Brazil
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Position(s) Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1956–1958 Canto do Rio
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1958–1963 Flamengo[1] 153 (86)
1963–1969 Botafogo[2] 248 (96)
1969–1972 São Paulo[3][4] 75 (12)
1972–1974 Fluminense[4] 21 (1)
Total 497 (195)
National team
1961–1972 Brazil 70 (14)
Men's Football
Representing  Brazil
FIFA World Cup
Winner 1970 Mexico
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Gérson (born 11 January 1941) is a former Brazilian football player. He has played for Brazil national team. He is best known for his role as a playmaker at the 1970 FIFA World Cup. There he was the mainstay in midfield and key to the success of strikers Pelé, Jairzinho and Tostão. He is considered one of the best passers in the history of the World Cup. He was also praised for his great sense of organization and strategy. This ensured that he was able to deliver razor-sharp passes, over short and long distances. He was a very intelligent playmaker, known for vision, positional sense, efficiency, his ability to retain posession, powerful shots and his incredible passing ability. He is regarded as one of Brazil's greatest ever players. He also possessed an excellent positional sense, and a powerful shot with his left foot, which earned him the nickname Canhotinha de Ouro ("Golden left foot," in Portuguese).

Early life[change | change source]

Childhood[change | change source]

Gérson was born on in Niterói, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. He came from a football family. His father Clovis Nuno and his uncle had both been professional football players in Rio. The legendary Zizinho, who formed one of the best lines of attack ever in the 1950s along with Ademir and Jair, was a close friend of his father and a familiar face with the Nunes family. In elementary school he was known as the papagaio (parrot), because of his talk. The slender and shaggy boy, never lacked a mind of his own, especially on the football field where he left a confident and managerial impression from an early age. When he indicated as a teenager that he wanted to become a professional football player, few obstacles stood in his way. He trained at a young age with Fluminense, Botafogo and Bangu. He ended up with Canto do Rio from his native Niterói. After having played a practice match against Flamengo, he was later called by the professional club asking if he wanted to come and play football there.

How to play[change | change source]

Although his childhood idols had been strikers Jair, Zizinho, Ademir and Vasco da Gama midfielder Danilo, his first professional club Flamengo had him take the place of the most influential player in Brazilian midfield at the time: Didi. The young Gerson combined his speed and relentless shooting power with his intelligence to control the game from midfield. One of his most important assets was to switch from defensive to offensive play from his own half, via a long, clean ball, at lightning speed. He had understood early on that the ball was much faster than any player. Soon people were talking about the successor of the famous Didi. However, he himself refused to make that comparison. He was the original Gérson and not the next Didi. He admitted that he had some affinity with the playmaker of the 1950s, but the midfielder had never served as an example for him.

Club career[change | change source]

For the first five years in professional football, he rose continuously through all ranks. Less than a year after starting with Flamengo in 1958, he already made his appearance in the Brazilian 'amateur team' at the Pan American Games in 1959, where the team finished second behind champions Argentina. A year later, he was the cornerstone on the side of the field when he competed in the soccer tournament at the Summer Olympics in Rome. By now, he had developed into the absolute controller of Flamengo's midfield and began to take over the role of Didi within the Brazilian national team. After spending five years with Flamengo, he decided to leave for another top club from Rio de Janeiro, Botafogo. This was home to one of the best players Brazil has ever known, his other childhood idol Garrincha. His big dream of playing with him, and Pelé among others, at the 1962 FIFA World Cup was shattered when he suffered a very serious knee injury. The surgery made it impossible for him to take part in the tournament in Chile which was eventually won for the second time by Brazil. The injury meant that his career would never be as successful as he had expected. At Botafogo, he continued to play for most of his career and also managed to win many awards. He then played another stint with São Paulo before concluding his career in Rio de Janeiro with Fluminense. His heart is still with the latter club, even though he only played here for a fairly short period. He stopped at a relatively young age because his knee started to hurt, but his fear of flying also played a role, if possible he always took the car to travel.

International career[change | change source]

1966 FIFA World Cup[change | change source]

Succeeding Didi, Gérson, as a midfield controller, was to lead his team at the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England. Together with newcomers Jairzinho and Tostão, Gérson formed a new trio of players. In the first match, Brazil faced Bulgaria. Partly due to a goal from Pelé and Garrincha, the Divine Canaries won the game 2-0. In the second game against Hungary, Gérson came into action for the first time. Brazil struggled. Hungary had many talented football players. The Brazilians lost the match 3-1. The third group match had to be played against Eusébio's Portugal. Early in the game Pelé was out with an injury, his substitute, the just 19-year-old Tostão, was unable to break any pots and Brazil was beaten 3-1. As a result, the team did not even reach the second round and the tournament was a big disappointment. The explanation for this probably lay in the fact that the selection was too old, of all the players who had also been present at the 1958 World Cup and 1962 World Cup, only Pelé at the age of 25 was really fit enough to participate.

1970 FIFA World Cup[change | change source]

Gérson in 1970

Gérson reached his peak four years later at the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. At the time, he was 29 and the end of his career was in sight. The high expectations people had of him when he first started playing football had somehow never quite been fulfilled. The tournament was his last chance to prove his greatness. Czechoslovakia was the first to be sidelined 4-1. Then followed England, the world champion with Bobby Moore in the ranks was defeated 1-0 by a goal from Jairzinho. Partly due to a memorable pass from Gérson of almost 40 meters, Pelé managed to score, so that Romania was finally settled 3-2 in the last group match.

Brazil faced Peru in the quarter finals. They won the game 4-2 and they defeated Teófilo Cubillas and Peru. Cubillas had almost personally led his team to the next round and had already scored four times in the first three matches. Both teams played attacking play, creating space for both Peru and Brazil, so it was a goal-rich game. After a quarter of an hour, Brazil was already 2-0 ahead. Uruguay then waited in the semifinals. Their national coach had noticed the important role of Gérson and decided to put a man on him during the game. The flowing game of the Brazilians was interrupted because Gérson was so tightly covered. He had come up with a way to solve this. He went deeper into the field so that his opponent had to go with him. In this way, Clodoaldo was given space to attack and scored the first goal for the Brazilians. In the second half, the Divine Canaries managed to score twice more to make it 3-1. Brazil reached the final, against Italy. They had qualified by booking a historic victory over West Germany in the semi-final. They played against the Brazilians with greats such as Giacinto Facchetti, Luigi Riva and Sandro Mazzola. In the 18th minute, Pelé opened the scoring to score Brazil's 100th World Cup goal, but Italy tied the score a short time later. The Brazilians then decided to give a little more gas in the second half and rolled over the Squadra Azzurri. After a goal from Gérson, goals from Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto Torres followed. The final score was 4-1. Almost everyone agreed that Gérson had been the Man of the Match and played a major role in winning the world title. Brazil became tri-campeão, three-time world champion, and was therefore allowed to keep the Jules Rimet Cup.

Side career[change | change source]

Gérson's Law[change | change source]

In the 1970s, Gérson was featured in a TV commercial for cigarettes in which he quoted the following sentence: "I would like to take advantage of everything to progress". From this came the lei de Gérson (Gérson's Law), which has since been associated with the common disregard for laws and regulations in Brazil. In the 70's and 80's it was generally accepted to cheat, cheat or take advantage of any situation. Even a quarter of a century after the Law came into being, it still applies to some situations in Brazil. However, corruption and extortion is slowly starting to decline with the emergence of so-called watchdog agencies who monitor compliance with laws and regulations. Afterwards, Gérson reacted disapprovingly to the image he had painted in the advertisement.

FIFA 100[change | change source]

After the presentation of the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 best living footballers compiled by Pelé in 2004, there was a lot of criticism from Brazil for the absence of Jairzinho and Gérson. They had been an important part of the successful team that had won the world title in 1970. Jairzinho had scored in every game, which is still a record, and Gerson had played a key role in midfield. Outraged at his absence, Gérson tore up the list publicly on Brazilian television.

Radio reporter[change | change source]

Gérson has always been known for his much talking on the football field, in 2004 he did talking as a profession with a job as a radio reporter.

Club career statistics[change | change source]


Club statistics League
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals
1971 São Paulo Série A 14 1
1972 Fluminense Série A 11 0
1973 4 0
1974 5 0
Country Brazil 34 1
Total 34 1

International career statistics[change | change source]

[5] [6]

Brazil national team
1961 2 1
1962 0 0
1963 7 3
1964 3 2
1965 5 2
1966 5 2
1967 2 0
1968 16 2
1969 9 1
1970 11 2
1971 7 1
1972 4 0
Total 70 14

Honours[change | change source]

Club[change | change source]



São Paulo


International[change | change source]


Individual[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. [1] Fla-Estatística (in Portuguese)
  2. [2] BrFut (in Portuguese)
  3. [3] BrFut (in Portuguese)
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Futpedia" (in Brazilian Portuguese). Futpedia.globo.com. Archived from the original on 2019-05-21. Retrieved 2022-08-14.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Strack-Zimmermann, Benjamin. "Gérson". www.national-football-teams.com.
  6. "Brazil - Record International Players". www.rsssf.com.
  7. World Soccer: The 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time. Retrieved 20 November 2015