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Garrincha: The Triumph and Tragedy of Brazil's Forgotten Footballing Hero [Paperback]

Ruy Castro
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 11.55 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 May 2013

The World Cup Finals, Sweden 1958. Brazil vs the fearsome USSR. In the opening three minutes - 'the greatest three minutes in the history of football' - one man wrote himself into the record books alongside the game's greatest players, men like Pelé, Di Stefano, Puskas and Maradona. Brazil went on to win the cup, and, in Garrincha, a star was born.

Garrincha was the unlikeliest of footballers - with a right leg that turned inwards and a left that turned out, he looked as if he could barely walk, but with a ball at his feet he had the poise of an angel. He played for the love of the game, uninterested in money, and ignoring tactical advice. And he was as wild off the pitch as he was mesmerising on it - mischievous, audacious and dripping with sex appeal.

It was his affair and subsequent marriage to the singer Elza Soares that caught the imagination of a nation - their mouth-watering combination of soccer and samba made them the toast of 1960s Rio. But by the age of forty-nine, Garrincha was dead, destroyed by the excesses that made him so compelling.


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Garrincha: The Triumph and Tragedy of Brazil's Forgotten Footballing Hero + Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life - Updated Edition
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey (2 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224092197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224092197
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Castro's biography is funny and moving, zealously researched and lovingly told. This excellent new translation by Andrew Downie means English readers can properly appreciate one of the most incredible lives in the history of sport" (Alex Bellos Daily Telegraph)

"Passionate, fascinating and surprisingly moving... a worthy tribute... According to Gazza, Gascoigne has limited interest in books. He should be persuaded to make an exception for Garrincha. He would learn more about himself than by reading his own autobiography" (Guardian)

"[A] powerfully atmospheric and beautifully rendered life of one of Brazil's greatest ever players... A sad and fantastic book" (Harry Pearson When Saturday Comes)

"[Castro's] research is exhaustive and exemplary" (Sunday Times)

"A compelling page-turner, warts and all" (Scotland on Sunday)

Book Description

Ruy Castro's wonderful biography charts the extraordinary rise and fall of a flawed sporting legend, and a tragically human hero.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sad Song of a Little Bird 26 Jan 2006
By Craobh Rua VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although some people may disagree - the entire population of Argentina, I suspect - Brazil are widely considered the top dogs of world soccer. As a nation they've won the World Cup five times and the Maracanã - where Brazil play their home games - is one of the sport's most famous stadiums. Any discussion about the soccer's greatest players will feature several Brazilians - Pelé, Jairzinho, Zico, Romário, Bebeto, Falcão, Sócrates and Ronaldinho would surely be in contention. Manuel Francisco dos Santos, most commonly known as "Garrincha", may not be as widely known as his countrymen but he fully deserves to be included on that list. He is, however, quite clearly honoured in his home country where he is still known as the "Joy of the People".
Garrincha was born in 1933 in a small town called Pau Grande. Amazingly, for such a gifted sportsman, he was born with 'bent' legs - his left bent out and his right bent in. When young, he was also smaller than the kids his own age and was christened 'garrincha' (the local name for a 'little bird') by his sister. His hometown was founded by the English in the 1870s and was centred around the América Fabril factory - the factory, it seems, practically employed the town's entire population. The town's soccer club - Sport Club Pau Grande - was founded in 1908 and, although an amateur team, was the first senior club Garrincha played for. He eventually moved to Botafogo, one of Rio's professional teams - it was here he played his best football, and he won the Carioca (Rio's State Championship) several times.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tragic story 14 April 2006
By Twazzer
Format:Paperback
The life of Garrincha has all the hallmarks of a tragic film. From Brazilian poverty through to the highs of winning the World Cup and starring in the 1962 World Cup to the dramatic lows of alcholism, broken families and an early and painful death. It would be easy to overdramatise and exaggerate such a life in a written account. However, Ruy Castro expertly avoids this pitfall. Instead, Castro presents a tragic and balanced portrait of one of Brazil's sporting heroes in an immensely readable and intelligent account.

From a British perspective, one has heard much about Garrincha and his wizadry in the World Cups of 1958 and 1962 but know little about his life apart from his early life. Castro fills in many gaps about Garrincha and makes this one of the best football biographies written in the last few years.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catch a Falling Star 18 Aug 2004
Format:Hardcover
Until a couple of weeks ago, Garrincha was a name I could only vaguely associate with Brazilian football, no more than that. I couldn't tell you when he played, which position or for whom, a sharp contrast with Brazilian football luminaries like Pele, Zico, Romario and Ronaldo. So I was taken back to find out that in Brazil, he's more popular than all of them.

He's consistently voted into "all time best 11's" including FIFA's, yet his best days were prior to 1963 and there's hardly any video footage of him. You'd have to be in your 50's to remember him while he was playing, but he must have been some player for his flame to be kept alive by word-of-mouth.

The introduction says that Garrincha was more George Best than George Best, and it seems a good comparison, but Garrincha did it first and did it better. Sadly, that included drinking, and where George survived Garrincha didn't.

This is ultimately a dark story, I bought it on the off chance, read it in a couple of days and have spent the ensuing week trawling websites trying to find out more about the enigmatic Garrincha, who played football just for the sheer joy of it.

I really wish I could have seen him play...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb sports biography 10 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of the finest sports biographies that has ever been written, a true tale of rags to (not quite) riches and then back down to rags.

The book charts the life of Garrincha, who was fabled for his dribbling and is arguably one of the finest footballers to have ever graced a pitch - a feat all the more amazing given that he was born with bent legs (his right leg pointing inwards and his left leg pointing outwards). However, he was equally as carefree with money, alcohol and women as he was a great footballer, and it was this attitude that resulted in his career and life being tragically cut short. George Best looks like an amateur in comparison to Garrincha.

The book is incredibly well-researched and much credit needs to go to the author for this - there are all manner of anecdotes that will have you crying with laughter, shaking your head in disbelief and making you cry. For example, there was the time during one game where Garrincha bamboozled his marker so much, the defender fell to the floor as he ran past him. Instead of carrying on, Garrincha dribbled back to his opponent, picked him up off the turf and then carried on down the wing. But unable to organise anything in his life other than his booze-ups, meant that Garrincha was at the mercy of the clubs he played for, his various agents, hangers on and his family (given he was fathering children left right and centre, his family was getting larger every year). But it was the clubs who took most advantage of him by making him sign practically blank contracts (with salary figures to be added in due course). It meant Garrincha never earned what he was due - although he never seemed to care as all he wanted to do was to play brilliant football.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, educating and emotional. Great!!
It's just a masterpiece of work, you get a wonderful look - with love and humor but without making things looking prettier than they are - into Garrinchas' soul as a person and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by yuval goldbourt
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a fantastic read about one of the greatest players ever.
A few years before this book was published I was going to write an essay about Garrincha. Because before this book there was literally nothing out there on him. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Colonel Decker
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read footballers book
The older players and fans alike will love this book Brazil the most loved football ever played was in this era , and this story only brings home to me, what true legends are, from... Read more
Published 4 months ago by mr d griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars A roller-coaster ride of a book!
A book i couldnt put down, a definate recommendation to anyone who loves football, mavericks and amazing stories. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Angelo Trofa
5.0 out of 5 stars Expatriate
I lived in Brazil during Garrincha's raise & fall. The book helped me to put a lot of memories and here says into perspective. Excellent even for younger generation.
Published 11 months ago by Me
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I bought this book for my Dad for Xmas who whilst not a massive sports fan had the privilege of seeing Pele in his prime. Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2010 by G. Grech
4.0 out of 5 stars Garrincha - Book
Arrived smartly, lowest price. I have not read the book as saving to read while on holiday but I was recommended it by a friend who says its good. Read more
Published on 2 July 2009 by CharlesHarvey1888
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read
I borrowed this book in paperback after a friend suggested I read it. I have just finished it and decided to buy my own hardback copy. Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2009 by Mr. P. D. Tunstall
4.0 out of 5 stars Garrincha
There was a programme on while the world cup was on in June 2006 about past world cups i had not heard about Garrincha and i looked on my computer and seen that there was a book... Read more
Published on 2 Aug 2006 by Scott Leslie
5.0 out of 5 stars the peoples joy
i have been a garrincha fan since the first time i saw him play,and am overjoyed that an english language biography about him has at long last come out. Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2004 by d marotta
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