Nílton Santos

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Nílton Santos
Nilton Santos - 2004.jpg
Nílton Santos in 2004
Personal information
Full name Nílton Reis dos Santos
Date of birth (1925-05-16)16 May 1925
Place of birth Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of death November 27, 2013(2013-11-27) (aged 88)
Place of death Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height 1.81 m (5 ft 11+12 in)
Position(s) Defender (retired)
Youth career
1940–1948 Botafogo
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1948–1964 Botafogo 723 (11)
National team
1949–1962 Brazil 75 (3)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Nílton Santos (16 May 1925 – 27 November 2013) was a Brazilian football player. He has played for Brazil national team. Considered as one of the greatest defenders of all time. Nilton Santos was one of the first cornerbacks in the history of football to be involved in the team's attacks. Due to this, the attackers had a numerical advantage on the flanks, after which either a cross into the center of the penalty area followed, or the ball rolled back a little back, on the oncoming partners. He himself said: "I always wanted to attack, but do it with caution." From the players of his time, Nilton was also distinguished by his "bipedalism", the ability to play equally well with both his left and right foot. According to Nestor Rossi, Santos "was born with a talent for scoring goals, but glorified the art of avoiding them".

Nilton had excellent dribbling skills. He could circle several opponents in a small area of ​​​​the field. Sometimes Santos, unexpectedly for the opponent, threw the ball over his head, and then ran past the taken aback player of the opposing team and picked him up again. Nilton had a remarkable command of handling the ball: he could receive and process it regardless of how fast the ball flew towards him. Like any defender, Nilton was good at tackling, often being ahead of the curve. After the Brazilian took the ball, he could make an accurate and fast pass, which allowed the players of his team to start the attack. Thanks to this skill, he was nicknamed the "Encyclopedia of Football".

Also, Santos was noted for his great love for his club Botafogo: during his performances, he never negotiated contracts, always signing a clean check of the contract.

In March 2004, Santos was named by Pelé in FIFA 100 the list of 125 best living footballers.

Santos died from respiratory failure caused by a lung infection on 27 November 2013, aged 88, in Rio de Janeiro.[1]

Early years[change | change source]

Nilton Santos was born at noon on May 16, 1925, on the Governor's Island in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, the son of a fisherman, Pedro, and a school cleaning lady, Joselle. Nilton was the firstborn in the family, later he had seven brothers and sisters. Since the father of the future football player was a fisherman, in fact the whole family was engaged in fishing and catching shrimp, helping the head of the family. Thanks to this, the Santos have always had the opportunity to eat a hearty meal. Nilton later recalled: “Perhaps I owe my good health to these foods, which I consumed as a child and later as an adult”. For Santos, fishing has been his favorite hobby throughout his life. Nilton's childhood passed on Estrada de Flesheiras Street: “We lived together, in the evenings there were celebrations on the street with dances, fireworks, we celebrated the days of St. Ramos. Along the beach, boats glided along the waves of the bay, decorated with flags, colored scarves and ribbons. Torches were burning on the prow of the boats”. At the age of 7, Nilton went to the local municipal school of Alberto di Oliveira. In parallel with his studies, he worked part-time, helping merchants transport vegetables and fruits on a cart, put up tents and sheds in the market, brought them water in shot bottles so that they could moisten vegetables and herbs, giving them a marketable appearance. In 1937, Nilton, together with friends - Gervasio, Feguinho, Peri, Wilson, Plinio, Sampaio, Candido, Jarzinho and his cousin Moasir created a children's team, which they called "Fumo". There, the young player immediately chose his position on the field - on the left in the attack. According to Nilton, their team was different from others that existed in their area. First of all, they regularly paid membership dues - 5 tostaos a month, which were spent on the purchase of uniforms. All members of the team were engaged in a small business, making lemonade and selling it at the stadium. Much later, Santos said that Fumo was his first football school. In 1939, Nilton left school, where he spent only 3 years: with the outbreak of World War II, he got a job as a garcon in an American diner. He almost gave all the money he earned to his mother. The year before, he had gone to see the local amateur club Flesheiras, who took the player in. In this team, Nilton went from the youth squad to the first team, where at 14 he was the youngest player. Initially, in the adult team, he played as a left-back, but then he was transferred to the flank of the attack. Flecheiras faced other clubs from the island as well as from the nearby suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. At away matches, the club often attracted a large number of spectators who went to personally observe the game of Nilton. In early 1945, Nilton began serving in the Aeronautics Detachment of the local Air Force. At the same time, he played for the base team of the same name, while he alone was a simple soldier among the officers. The team was supported by Major Honorio Magallanes, who from his salary even sometimes transferred part of the money to the players. One of them, Sergeant Lara, once suggested that Nilton try out at the Fluminense professional club, where Lara had many acquaintances. Nilton arrived at the club, but found a turnstile he had never seen before, followed by local players, Ademir and Rodriguez, so frightened that he turned around and returned to the island. Later, he was invited by the San Cristovan club, which Aeronavtika won in a friendly game 5:2 (Nilton scored two goals out of five). However, Magallanes dissuaded the footballer from joining this team, arguing that he should not play for a small club.

Club career[change | change source]

Early years[change | change source]

Magallanes, with the help of his uncle, Bento Ribeiro, Botafogo 's director of public relations, arranged for Nilton Santos to be screened at the club. After a standard technique and fitness test involving several people, the team's head coach Zeze Moreira told Nilton, "You will play a two-way game in the place of the Ávila defender ." In this match, Santos, who played defense for the first time in a long time, performed well and even scored a goal. After the game, Moreira invited him to the club. Botafogo President Carlito Rocha also approached Nilton after the match and told him to play in the place that suits him best - in defense, he also said: "You will be great and become the champion of the world". Moreira was of the same opinion, choosing a place for a player on the right flank of the defense. Nilton made his debut for the team on March 21, 1948 in a friendly game with America Mineiro, in which his team lost 1: 2, but the footballer himself was recognized by the press as the best player of the meeting. In Nilton's next game, against Bolivar, Botafogo achieved a 3-2 win. After the second game, the team's goalkeeper, Ari, said that the defender only owed his appearance at the club to "great acquaintance"; then Nilton went to his room and began to collect things, but Rosha stopped him. In the third match, Nilton was recognized as the best player, moreover, when he made a pass to another full-back, he deliberately threw the ball over the head of Ari, who asked for the ball, so that he could not reach him. Then he was paid the first salary - 400 cruzeiro per month. On April 28, Nilton played his first official match in his career, in the Torneo Minicipal draw his club beat America 5:3. In the same tournament, Botafogo lost 0:5 to Bangu - this defeat was the largest in Nilton's career. In the next game, Santos was moved to the left flank, where he subsequently spent the rest of his career. On July 18, he made his debut in the Rio de Janeiro state championship, playing in the second round a meeting with the Canto do Rio club (4: 2), and on September 19 he scored the first goal in his professional career, hitting the America's goal. In total, in the first season, Nilton played 34 matches for Botafogo and scored 1 goal, and the club itself won the state championship, which it had not done since 1935, conceding the fewest goals in the championship. The only lost match for the club in the championship of Rio was the first meeting of the championship with San Cristovan, where Nilton did not participate. In the championship of the city "Fogo" took 4th place. The following year, Botafogo was no longer able to repeat its success: the team continued to perform well in defense, conceding the fewest, but only Octavio, who scored 11 goals, demonstrated a high level of play in attack . Nilton played 15 games out of 20 in the championship. It is curious that in the five games of the team in which Nilton was absent, the club lost four times. On January 29, 1950, Nilton played his first match in the Rio Sao Paulo tournament, in which Botafogo beat Palmeiras 3-0 . The club performed very poorly in this tournament, sharing the last place with Fluminense. Nilton played four out of seven meetings in the draw; in these three matches, the Santos club suffered three defeats [30]. In the Rio State Championship, the club took 4th place. Nilton played in 12 out of 20 games, and in total played 17 games during the season. In the same year, the footballer signed his first professional contract for a year, according to which he began to earn 1,000 cruzeiro.

Early 1950s[change | change source]

In early June 1951, Nilton helped the club win the Minicipal tournament, recreated by the city football federation, in which he played 5 matches out of 10. However, the defender played in the decisive match of the tournament, in which Botafogo beat Vasco 3-0 da Gama." It is curious that the club conceded 9 goals in the championship, and in the matches in which Santos played, only one. Nilton played 18 league matches in the Rio championship, missing only the first two matches of the championship. The club took 3rd place in the tournament, losing a point to Bang and Fluminense. In terms of the number of goals conceded, the club was in first place. In total for the season he spent 39 matches. On January 13, 1952, Santos scored his 4th career goal, in a friendly game against Figueirense. In the same year, Nilton participated in the Rio Sao Paulo tournament, where he played 6 games; however, the club performed unsuccessfully, losing 4 meetings and taking only 6th place. The season also came out in the championship: Botafogo took 5th place in the standings. It got to the point that at the end of the season, outfield player Silvio Pirillo became the head coach of the club. In January 1953, "Botafogo" went to a major international tournament in Montevideo, where he took second place. Nilton held all the meetings of the tournament. Two months later, Nilton played in the Rio Sao Paulo tournament, but the club also performed unsuccessfully there, finishing 4th. Nilton has played eight of the nine matches played by the team in the tournament. On June 10, 1953, a player nicknamed Garrincha came to see Botafogo. Nilton Santos was called in to test the rookie on the right flank. In training, Garrincha beat Nilton three times with the same feint, throwing the ball between his legs, which hit the national team defender. As the players headed to the locker room, Santos approached Gentil Cardozo, the head coach of the team, who was absent from training, and said: “If this guy ends up in another club, I won’t be able to sleep peacefully. If he gains a foothold with us, then the defenders of other clubs will not sleep”. In Garrincha's own opinion, Nilton became his godfather in football. In the same year, Rio took third place in the championship, losing 9 points to the champion, the Flamengo club. In the draw of this tournament, Nilton scored his 5th goal for Botafogo, hitting the gates of Bangu in a match where the Santos club won 6:0; after the game, the coach of the opponent "Fogo" resigned. In total, Nilton played 47 games in the season, of which 27 were in the Rio championship, and scored 1 goal.

The following year, at the Rio Sao Paulo tournament, Botafogo performed very poorly: the club finished last, losing 6 games out of 9. Nilton Santos did not participate in the tournament due to employment in the Brazilian national team, preparing for the World Cup. As a result, he missed more than half of the season, appearing for the team only towards the end of July. He took part in the decisive matches of the Rio championship, where his club took the overall 6th place. In addition, the head coach of the team, Zeze Moreira, besides, he paid little attention to the club, being at the same time the mentor of the national team. In total, Santos has played 38 games this season, 27 of which are in the state championship. In 1955, Botafogo took 3rd place in the Rio Sao Paulo tournament (Nilton played all 9 championship matches), losing 2 points to the winner. But in the championship of Rio de Janeiro, the club performed unsuccessfully, for which there were objective reasons: two leading forwards of the team, Dino da Costa and Luis Vinicio, left for Italy, as a result of which the club was left with practically no attackers. Botafogo took 7th place in the championship. Nilton Santos played 51 matches in a season, 18 of which were in the state championship. During this period of club failures, Santos had offers from clubs fromSao Paulo, " Corinthians " and " Palmeiras ", but the defender refused these potential employers, citing his unwillingness to live in a city where there is no beach.

Mid 1950s - early 1960s[change | change source]

In 1956, the management of the club set a course to build a new team: the dispatcher Didi, forward Paulo Valentim and at the end of the season, striker Quarentinha came to it. That year, the team finished 3rd in the Rio championship, losing 5 points to the champion. Nilton spent 47 matches in a year and scored 1 goal, hitting the gates of the San Cristovan club and bringing his team a draw - 1: 1. In 1957, Botafogo was headed by Juan Saldanha, who replaced Zeze Moreira : the team leaders were unhappy with the third place occupied with the previous mentor. The main goal of the new coach was: “Go on the field and do what you know how to do. We will win the match and after that we will celebrate the victory”. The championship of Rio de Janeiro began for the club with a match with the Bonsusesso club, in which Fogo won 3:1. And then followed by two big victories over Canto do Rio and Madureira, in each of which Nilton scored a ball. At the same tournament, Santos scored the third goal, hitting the Portuguesa goal. The final match took place on December 22, in which Botafogo met with Fluminense, the only club that beat Estrela Solitaria during the championship". On the eve of the game, Santos, together with his teammate, Tome, vowed that they would tear their shirts, but they would achieve victory: when their club began to win, Tome ran up to Nilton and forced him to tear his shirt, while Tome himself increased the gap with each goal of his team, which won 6:2.

The following year, Botafogo did not perform so well. In the Rio Sao Paulo tournament, the club took only 5th place, and in the state championship it was in third place. Nilton spent 48 matches in the season and scored 1 goal, in a friendly game at the Pentagonal tournament, hitting the River Plate gate. In 1959, Botafogo began to renew the squad again: young striker Amarildo, goalkeeper Manga and world champion winger Mário Zagallo were bought. With these players in the roster, the club took 2nd place in the Rio de Janeiro championship, while the club was forced to play additional matches for 2nd place. Nilton played 46 games in the season, 19 of them in the championship. After this championship, Saldanha left the club and the team was taken over by Paulo Amaral. In the first tournament under his leadership, the championship of Rio Sao Paulo, "Botafogo" took second place. In the draw of this tournament, Nilton played only 3 games. In the state championship, the club remained in third plac. Nilton in the championship entered the field in 18 meetings out of 22 held by the team. In total, Santos played 45 matches for Botafogo during the season. In 1961, Marinho Rodríguez took over the club. In the Rio Sao Paulo tournament, where Nilton played 6 matches, Botafogo finished second, scoring the same number of points as the winner, Flamengo. And in the state championship, the club took first place, scoring 24 points in the final tournament, which is 8 points more than the nearest pursuers. Santos entered the tournament on the field 23 times, and in total he played 54 games in the season. The following season, the club made a "double". First, the Rio Sao Paulo championship was won, and then the club won the Rio de Janeiro championship. Botafogo defeated Flamengo in the final of the Rio championship» with a score of 3:0. After this victory, Nilton began to seriously consider retiring from football. Another reason was the attitude of the team's management, which often reminded the player of his age. In 1963, Santos made his debut in the Copa Libertadores in a meeting with the Peruvian " Alianza Lima " in a match in which his club won 1:0. In the next game of the draw of this tournament, Nilton scored his last goal in his career for Botafogo, hitting the gates of the same Alliance. In that championship, the club reached the semi-finals, in which it was beaten by Santos. In the championship, the club also did not perform very well, taking 4th place. Nilton played 54 games that year.

End of playing career[change | change source]

In 1964, Nilton punched referee Armando Marquez in the face, for which he was suspended for 60 days. On December 13 of the same year, Botafogo met with Flamengo in the Rio de Janeiro championship. Long before the game, Nilton made the decision that this match would be his last in his career. A few months before the game, the Botafogo management was offered to hold a farewell match in honor of Santos, but they refused, citing the fact that then every player, ending his career at the club, would demand a farewell game, which would require large financial investments. In the match with Mengo, the director of this club, Drault Hernann, presented the player with a gilded crystal vase. The meeting ended with the victory of Botafogo 1:0. After 3 days, he played another match, a friendly match with Bahia, which became the last in his career. However, Nilton's contract was valid for another six months, and the club's management, represented by president Ney Palmeira and head coach Geninho, persuaded him to stay on the tour of South and Central America, but Santos was firm in his decision. In the spring, Palmeira, in an open letter to the press, offered the defender to extend the contract, but Nilton again refused. During his entire career at Botafogo, Nilton Santos played 722 matches and scored 11 goals. On April 5, 1965, at the Shuraskariya "Gausha", in the presence of 150 people, Nilton celebrated his retirement from football. At this event, Nina Ribeiro, deputy of the National Congress, announced the decision to rename Estrada do Dende to Avenida Nilton Santos for his services to the development of football.

International career[change | change source]

From 1949 to 1962, Nilton Santos played for the Brazilian national team, making 75 appearances and scoring 3 goals. Of those 75 games, the team won 55, drew 10 and lost 10.

Early years in the national team[change | change source]

Nilton was first invited to the national team in 1949 at the South American Championship, where he went as an understudy to the captain of the national team, Augusto, who played on the right in defense. On April 17, Nilton played his first match for the national team, coming on as a second-half substitute against Colombia in a 5-0 win by the Brazilians. This match was the only match held by Nilton in the tournament, in which the Brazilian team won their third South American title, while the game with the Colombians was the only one in the championship in which the team of Nilton Santos did not concede goals. After that, Santos was not called up to the camp of the national team for a long time. The reason for this was the attitude of Flavio Costa, the head coach of the team, who, according to the football player, did not like him. He once demanded from Nilton not to dribble; to this the defender replied: "I will not lose the ball, he will always obey me, will do what I want".

Only a year later, he went to the location of the national team to participate in the Rio Branco and Osvaldo Cruz Cups, which were part of the preparation of the national team for the first post-war World Cup, held in Brazil. The football player went to the tournament itself, but did not enter the field, again losing the competition to Augusto. In addition, Nilton himself did not enjoy the confidence of Flavio Costa because of his constant connections to the attack. At the world championship, Brazil, which was the favorite of the championship, lost in the decisive match to Uruguay and took second place, which was regarded as a tragedy in their homeland. Moreover, most of the national team players were subsequently either not called up at all, or called up only occasionally under the banner of the national team. Partly from this, Nilton also “suffered”, not playing for the national team for two years.

Only in April 1952, Santos again entered the field as part of the Brazilian national team. He played in the Pan American Championship, where he played 5 games. The following year, the footballer went to his second South American Championship. At the tournament, Nilton played 6 games, missing only the match with Ecuador, where Alfredo played in his place. At the same tournament, on March 27, Santos scored the first goal for the national team, hitting the goal of Paraguay, however, this did not help his team, who lost 1-2. In the standings, the Brazilians scored the same number of points with Paraguay and a decisive match was scheduled between these two teams. Nilton entered the field in the starting lineup, but was replaced by Alfredo due to an unsuccessful game in which the Brazilians lost 0-3 after the break; already after the departure of Santos, two goals were played, but they did not save the national team from defeat.

1954 FIFA World Cup[change | change source]

In the qualifying tournament for the 1954 World Cup, Nilton Santos played all 4 games, all of which the Brazilians won. The Brazilian national team went to the final part of the tournament as one of the favorites and with the desire to win the championship, which was not possible 4 years before. First of all, upon arrival, the national team had a very strict regimen: the players were forbidden to communicate with loved ones, journalists, and give interviews; according to Santos, "we lived like real recluses, cut off from the whole world." At the same tournament, Didi went on a hunger strike because he was not allowed to see his wife, and Nilton, wearing a large coat, quickly brought food out of the restaurant for him. In the group stage, the Brazilians beat Mexico big and drew with Yugoslavia. It is curious that the Brazilians did not know the rules of the tournament: in particular, when they equalized the score (Didi scored a goal from Nilton's pass), after that they continued to attack furiously, thinking that a draw would not suit them. They faced Hungary in the quarterfinals. The match, played on June 27, was subsequently called the "Battle of Bern" due to the numerous unsportsmanlike actions of the players; The Times correspondent reported in his report: "Never have I seen such a fierce struggle". Nilton was sent off in the game: he roughly knocked down the captain of the Hungarians Jozsef Bozsik, who beat him the whole match; Bozsik answered, after which they exchanged blows, and both were sent off in the 71st minute of the meeting. Brazil lost the match 2:4 and were eliminated from the tournament.

Copa América 1956 and 1957[change | change source]

In 1956, Nilton did not go to the South American Championship along with Garrincha, Zózimo, Didi and Julinho. The new head coach of the team, Osvaldo Brandão, took a team to the tournament, where more than half of the players did not take part in the 1954 World Cup. The team performed unsuccessfully at the championship. A few months later, he took a heavily modified national team on a tour of Europe to better prepare for the upcoming World Cup; Nilton Santos was among the players, who played 8 games, including the match with England, where the Brazilians conceded 4 goals. In 1957, Brandão took a different team to the championship. The Brazilians took second place in the championship, losing the championship only to Argentina, where three players were the soloists, who left for Italy immediately after the championship. Nilton did not take part in this match, having been forced out of the squad after losing to Uruguay, where he was replaced by Olavo, who subsequently played the remaining two matches of the competition.

1958 FIFA World Cup[change | change source]

The following year, after winning the silver medals in the South American Championship, Nilton as part of the national team was able to break into the World Cup, participating in both qualifying meetings with Peru. On the eve of the championship, Vicente Feola, the head coach of the national team, wanted to entrust a place in the base to Oreco, who played a more traditional defender, but Santos's class in friendly matches turned out to be higher, and Vicente had to be entrusted with a place in the base to him. At the tournament, the national team demonstrated a new 4-2-4 game formation, later called "Brazilian", in which there were 4 defenders, two central midfielders and 4 forwards. In the first match of the world championshipagainst the Austrian national team, Nilton scored a goal, and his team won 3:0. Nilton scored this ball by going down the flank from his half of the field, beating all the resisting Austrians along the way and playing in the wall with José Altafini; it is curious that during the dribbling, the head coach of the national team, Vicente Feola, frantically gesticulated and shouted “come back, Nilton, come back”, fearing that the defender would lose the ball and thus organize a counterattack of the opponent, and after the goal he whispered softly: “Okay, Nilton, it's good. The next game, with England, ended in a goalless draw in a very stubborn and viscous struggle. The third game was for the Brazilians against the Soviet Union. According to one version, on the eve of the match with the USSR, Nilton approached the head coach of the team, Vicente Feola, and said that Garrincha and Pelé, who did not participate in the opening games, would have played better than Joel and José Altafini, who played in their positions. Nilton's opinion was supported by João Havelange, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, team doctor Gosling, as well as several other players of the national team, including team leaders Didi and Hilderaldo Bellini. However, this version was later refuted by the actors of the episode Brazil beat the USSR 2-0, with both goals coming from passes by Garrincha. Wales were beaten 1-0 in the quarter-finals; the only goal of the match was scored by Pelé. France were beaten 5-2 in the semi-finals. After the game, the match referee, Benjamin Griffith, said: “I was delighted with what I saw. I will never forget Didi, Nilton Santos, Garrincha and Pele. They are not people”. On the eve of the final against Sweden, Santos said: “Pele, Garrincha, Didi are in our team. Let the Swedish players spend a sleepless night thinking about how to beat Brazil. I will sleep peacefully". On June 29, 1958, Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 and Nilton Santos became the world champion. Santos' only downside to that match was a goal scored by Swedish striker Nils Liedholm, who easily beat Nilton. At the end of the championship, he was included in the symbolic team of the best players in the world championship. In 1959, Nilton went with the national team to the South American Championship, but played only the first match of the national team against Peru, where he was injured. In other meetings, his place on the field was taken by Coronel. At the tournament, the Brazilians took 2nd place. The following year, Santos won the Atlantic Cup with the national team, and then the O'Higgins Cup and twice the Oswaldo Cruz Cup. In the draw match of this tournament, Nilton scored the last goal for the national team, hitting the Paraguay gate on April 21, 1962.

1962 FIFA World Cup[change | change source]

In 1962, Nilton Santos went to his last major international tournament in his career - the World Championship. Before the competition, many sports journalists expressed doubts about the advisability of inviting a 37-year-old player to the team, but the head coach of the team, Aymore Moreira, trusted proven players: only two of those who entered the field in the 1958 championship did not get into the team. In addition, the team's doctor, Ilton Gosling, assured the management of Nilton's readiness and organized individual training for him two weeks before the tournament. In the first match, Brazil beat Mexico 2-0, despite the fact that, according to Nilton, they were very nervous. Second meeting with Czechoslovakia, despite a clear advantage, the team drew 0:0, in addition, the team leader, Pelé, was injured in this game. He was to be replaced in the squad by the young Amarildo, Nilton's partner in Botafogo. Santos, on his own initiative, took patronage over the player: every day he came to the striker and talked with him. Nilton Santos said: “Play football the best you can. In the place that the coach will indicate to you, spare no effort”. In the third match against Spain, the Brazilians were losing by the end of the first half 0:1, and during one of the attacks of the Spaniards, Nilton in the penalty area violated the rule on the Spaniards' player who circled him, but the referee was far away, and while the referee was approaching the scene, Santos quickly made two steps and went out of the penalty area, which the referee did not notice; Santos later said, "It was pure deception. Without him, we would have been eliminated from the tournament”. In the 72nd minute of the match, Nilton made a pass to Garrincha, who passed to Mário Zagallo, who made the pass to Amarildo, who equalized the score. After 15 minutes, Amarildo scored the second goal and brought the team victory. Brazil beat England 3-1 in the quarter-finals and Chile in the semi-finals. The championship final, held on June 17, 1962 with Czechoslovakia, became the 75th and last match of Santos in the Brazilian national team shirt. It is curious that in this game Nilton played with his hand in his penalty area, but the Soviet referee, Nikolai Latyshev, did not appoint a penalty, for which he was criticized by Josef Masopust for "misunderstanding the tasks of socialism". After the winning match, Paulo Machado, head of the delegation of the national team, said to Santos: “Thank you, thank you. Thank you for everything, Nilton.

4 years after the unsuccessful 1966 FIFA World Cup for Brazil, Didi said: “If I and Nilton Santos had been at the World Cup in England, then the fiasco would not have happened. We would show who was the gasoline in the tank”.

After football career[change | change source]

After completing his career as a football player, Nilton went into business. In 1963, he became one of the founders of the Guarantees for a Professional Athlete Foundation, which provided financial, social and psychological support for football players. The fund existed until March 1965. A little later, Nilton bought a pharmacy near Copacabana Avenue and opened a sporting goods store, Nilton Santos Material Esportivo Ltda, near the Botafogo stadium. The pharmacy quickly went bankrupt, and the sports equipment store lasted about 10 years, but was also closed. From 1963 to 1986, Nilton worked for the Rio de Janeiro State Athletic Authority, where he served as a technical assistant in charge of school and college football in the region for the 7- to 14-year-olds. Even then, Santos began to work on the construction of football schools for poor children, later continued during his work (1980-1984) within the organization Legião Brasileira de Assistência ("Brazilian Aid Legion"). The former football player was able to organize the construction of football schools for poor children in Niteroi, on the Governor's Islands. Nilton worked as a football teacher for two years in the poorest districts of Uberaba and Brazil. In 1985, Nilton became Uberaba's sports secretary, coordinating the "Bola de meia" program. From 1987 to 2003, Santos worked in the Department of Recreation and Sports in Guanabara, where he was responsible for the administration of the region's stadiums. In 1997, the former player headed a school named after him for children from low-income families. In 1998, Nilton released an autobiographical book, Minha Bola, Minha Vida (My Ball, My Life), where he dwelled on the highlights of his career. From 2003 to 2007, he worked at the State Department of the State of Rio de Janeiro, coordinating the direction of state sports programs for young players from poor families. Nilton also received an allowance from Botafogo and worked part-time at the Pharmacia Popular social organization, which provides medicines to the elderly at a symbolic price of $ 1. The organization held specialized events where artists, singers and other famous personalities were invited. Nilton Santos was a frequent visitor there.

Death[change | change source]

On November 27, 2013, he died in his hometown at the age of 88 from complications of a lung infection.

Honours[change | change source]

Club[change | change source]


International[change | change source]


Individual[change | change source]

International career statistics[change | change source]


Brazil national team
1949 1 0
1950 4 0
1951 0 0
1952 5 0
1953 6 1
1954 7 0
1955 2 0
1956 11 0
1957 8 0
1958 8 1
1959 2 0
1960 8 0
1961 3 0
1962 10 1
Total 75 3

References[change | change source]

  1. "Brazilian World Cup winner Nilton Santos dies aged 88". Chicago Tribune. 27 November 2013. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "Brazil and Botafogo's pioneering wingback". FIFA. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
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