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“White Pele”
(Born in 1953)

He played in the Brazilian club “Flamengo”, the Italian club “Udinese”,
Japanese clubs “Sumitomo” and “Kashima Antlers”.
In 1976–1986, he played 82 matches for the Brazilian national team.

As befits an outstanding Brazilian footballer, Zico has a much more resonant full name – Arthur Antunes Coimbra. And besides the football name Zico he has another nickname – “White Pele”. It testifies that for Brazil he was a player of the highest, unattainable for other class. The great Didi, the world champion of 1958 and 1962, somehow gave Zico a short but comprehensive description: “He can do everything on the field.”

Ziko5 Zico actually handled the ball better than a circus juggler, knew how to make enchanting individual passes, but at the same time he perfectly saw the field and could give an unexpected long pass to a partner, bringing him to the shock position at once. He had a great kick from both feet, and in addition he played amazingly with his head, often ahead of tall defenders. Especially he was famous for the execution of penalty kicks from a distance of 20-25 meters. When he approached the ball, the stands stood, waiting for the inevitable goal.

Football statistics have calculated that he has implemented 80 percent of these penalties – skillfully twisted the ball around the “wall” to the far corner from the goalkeeper.

And Zico became famous for his extremely professional, conscientious attitude to football – he never broke the regime and worked in training until seventh sweat. When the training ended, I stayed on the field, continuing to work out shots from standard positions. Sometimes he punched up to hundreds of such blows and literally fell from his feet from exhaustion. But first and foremost, thanks to his amazing hard work, Zico became a great football player. He made himself, as they say, himself, because he was distinguished by astonishing stubbornness and strength of mind.

Zico had to work on himself pretty much – when he was a twelve-year-old boy who came to the youth school “Flamengo”, he weighed only 37 kilograms, and his height was slightly above one and a half meters. They took him only because of the exceptional dribbling, which he already owned at that time, honing the technique in the endless battles of the courtyards. But, looking at him, the then coach of the main Flamengo team, Fleitas Solish, immediately said that with such physical data nothing would come out of Zico.

Then, to prove to the coach that this is not the case, Zico added grueling exercises in the gym to purely football training. He spent many hours here, driving himself to exhaustion. But five years later, he grew to 172 centimeters and gained weight.
In 1971, at eighteen years old, he first entered the field in the first team of Flamengo. And since Zico did not spare himself not only in the gym, but also in countless football training sessions, he progressed from season to season.

Of course, he had a great natural talent, but he fully revealed himself only because of his hard work. Already in 1974, Zico became the champion of the state of Rio de Janeiro and scored 49 goals for the season. This was the highest achievement in the history of the club “Flamengo”. In 1976, the Brazilian national team coach invited the scorer to an international tournament held in honor of the 200th anniversary of the formation of the United States of America. In the debut mast Zico scored a goal against the national team of Uruguay with his famous free-kick in the “wall” bypass.

Since then, Zico played in the Brazilian national team all the time, he had to participate in three world championships. At the first of them, in 1978, the Brazilians were relatively successful, taking third place, however, Zico himself then pursued injuries, and he did not play in every match. But even before the World Cup, in 1977, Zico was named the best footballer in South America. Then it happened twice more – in 1981 and 1982.

The success of Flamengo in the late 1970s and early 1980s is largely due to the phenomenal play of White Pele. The club has repeatedly become the champion of the state of Rio de Janeiro and more than once won the Brazilian title, played out in the tournament champions of different Brazilian leagues. The pinnacle of Zico’s club achievements was the winning of the Libertadores Cup in 1981 – according to the results of three finals of Flamengo, the Chilean club Kobereloa won. Of the four goals scored by the Brazilians, all four were in the account of Zico.

In the same happy year, Flamengo won the Intercontinental Cup, beating Liverpool English in Tokyo – 3: 0. In the Tokyo match, however, Zico didn’t score goals, but his brilliant game made an indelible impression on the Japanese. The highest achievements of Zico in the Brazilian team were the 1982 World Cup held in Spain. The Brazilians, however, this time did not even reach the semi-finals, but Zico himself was among the top scorers, scoring 4 goals.
Like many great Brazilians, Zico had a chance to play in Europe. In 1983, he appeared in the Italian club “Udinese”, and the following year he was named the best football player of the A series.

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