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We have to pay homage to a very special person on May 16, as it is the 75th birthday of Nilton Santos, one of the players who turned football into an art. For the younger among you, who have not had the pleasure to see this master at work: Nílton was, in the opinion of most who saw him play, the best left wing in the history of football throughout the world. Great players such as Junior, Noronha, Roberto Carlos, Branco, Leonardo, Marinho Chagas, Marco Antonio who helped brazil to the four World Cup titles it now holds, will have to forgive us - but Nilton Santos was quite simply out of this world!
It is unfortunate for those among you who cannot say that you saw Nilton actually play, as it really was a treat. Known then as a halfback, he was the first winger to open up the left field for running attacks. He attacked and defended with equal panache and zeal – and, what is more, scored goals, such as in the opening game of the 1958 World Cup when Brazil beat Austria 3 - 0.

He robbed the ball from his opponents with the stealth and style of a cat burglar, and no one seemed to know how and when it had happened! Once in control, few could wrest the ball from him or stop him from creating openings. He dominated the game with his class. He was a natural leader and his mere presence on the pitch conveyed trust and strength to his teammates, he was always trusted and obeyed.

\for these qualities and for his professionalism, playwright and author Nelson Rodrigues nicknamed him the: Encyclopaedia of Football. In Nilton Santos one could find everything required in the 'complete' footballer.

He played in four World Cups – 1950, 54, 58 and 62, for the first team in the last three, of which Brazil won two. He was, above all else, an example both on and off the pitch.

After hanging up his boots, with the only club he ever played for, Botafogo, he became a football manager, but his style in the tunnel and in the dugout was not one suited to the haranguing and squabbling that often went on, and he fell foul of many a referee. As a result, he decided to dedicate his life to teaching youth soccer. He moved to Brasilia several years ago where he runs a school for DEFER, based in the Mane Garrincha stadium.

Talking about Mane, Nilton had his say in his career. During the first training session that Garrincha played with Botafogo. In his own indomitable and irreverent style, Mane completely ignored Nilson's attempts to mark him. At the end , Nilton went to talk to the coach and directors saying that they were to 'sign this guy up', "because I don't want him playing against me in Maracana!" He immediately became godfather and friend to one of the phenomenons of world football..

On Tuesday, 16 May, Nilton Santos will receive messages and gifts from friends and admirers from around the globe, some of whom have had the pleasure to sit with him and listen to him tell the many stories about football past and present. For all his great wealth Nilton is till known and respected for his simplicity. He often refers to himself as a player: "who played pretty well at times".
 

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Alexx,
he was the BEST EVER LEFT BACK :)
also, he is responsible for the sucess of Garricha. When Garrincha showed up to the test at Botafogo, the manager put him on the right wing...but din't think hw ouwld do nothing, as he had bent legs, and one leg was bigger than the other. Also, Garrincha was a total bum.
When he got the ball and went towards Nilton Santos , and totally humilliated the "encyclopedia of football", NIlton Santos looked to his manager and said: "Look, you sign this guy now or i'm out of the team....I don't want ot be humiliated in the Maracana"! :)

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