Former Brazilian captain Socrates dies at 57
SAO PAULO - Reuters
This May 18, 2011 file photo shows former Brazil's soccer player Socrates posing for pictures in Sao Paulo, Brazil. AP photoBrazil's 1982 World Cup captain Socrates, the 'Golden Heel' renowned as one of the great playmakers of his generation, died in hospital on Sunday of septic shock at the age of 57, his doctors said in a statement.
A smoker and drinker even in his playing days, Socrates had been on a life support system in Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Israeli Hospital since Thursday when he was admitted suffering from food poisoning.
"The (hospital) announces with profound sadness the death of ex-player Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira at 0430 (local time) as a result of septic shock," the statement said.
It was signed by doctors Fernando Luis Pandullo and Ben-Hur Ferraz Neto and the director of medical practice Oscar Fernando Pavao dos Santos.
Socrates, who had a degree in medicine himself and was known at the height of his fame as 'Dr Socrates', had been taken to hospital three times since August, when he spent nine days there due to a digestive haemorrhage caused by excessive drinking.
The former attacking midfielder, who played for Brazil at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, spent 17 days in the hospital in September with liver trouble and had been recommended for a transplant.
Born on Feb. 19, 1954 in Belem, a northern city on the banks of the Amazon river, Socrates started out at Botafogo-Ribeirao Preto where he became their top player despite also studying at the local university.
He joined Sao Paulo club Corinthians in 1978 and stayed for six years.
Bearded, thin and popularly known as 'Magrao,' or the Big Skinny One, Socrates was part of a golden Brazilian generation that included midfielder Zico, Junior, Falcao and Eder.
The brilliant Brazil side of 1982 was regarded as one of the best never to win the World Cup title after they were upset by eventual champions Italy in the second group phase of the tournament in Spain.
An astute passer and reader of the game, he earned his nickname of 'The Golden Heel' with a uniquely nonchalant playing style, using the backheel to telling effect and scoring memorable goals with both feet.
His languid penalty-taking style, eschewing the traditional run-up to merely step up to the ball and lift it into the net, backfired at the 1986 World Cup where Brazil lost to France in the quarter-finals on penalties after one of his lazy efforts was saved.
Winner of 60 caps with Brazil, Socrates scored 21 goals and was also known for strong views on both football and politics.
At Corinthians, during a time of military government, he was a leading figure in the Democracia Corinthiana movement where everything was decided by a vote of directors, technical staff and players.
The team would send messages to the country's government by taking to the field with banners demanding 'Direct elections now' or "I want to vote for President'.
Socrates had a short and unhappy playing spell in Italy with Fiorentina and, shivering from the cold in a bizarre postscript to his career, also made a brief appearance in 2004 as a substitute for English non-league side Garforth Town.
Latterly, he gave seminars about leadership and human relations while also practising as a doctor and working on a fiction book about the 2014 World Cup due to be held in Brazil.
His younger brother Rai, also a midfielder and a Sao Paulo favourite who spent several seasons at Paris St. Germain in the late 1990s, was a member of the Brazil squad that won the 1994 World Cup in the United States.