Mané Garrincha is Number 11 in 90min's Top 50 Greatest Footballer of All Time Series


Manuel Franciso dos Santos is his full name, but he's better known as Garrincha - or 'Little Bird' in Portuguese. Brazil's nickname? Canarinha, meaning 'Little Canary'. It seems Garrincha was perhaps destined to dazzle for his country. And, dazzle he did. 


Now, before we get into it, given the abundance of brilliant Brazilians to have graced our footballing landscape over the years, one might forget that Garrincha was in fact one of the greatest ever to star for the Samba's national side. 


Before reading this, you are forgiven if Garrincha wasn't a player you considered one of Brazil's best, let alone one of the greatest ever. Now we've got your attention, there are no more excuses, and it's our pleasure to try to explain just how ridiculously out of this world this particular right-winger was in his prime. 

So, let's start by profiling the player himself. There's only one place to begin - Garrincha's dribbling abilities. We've all seen videos of Diego Maradona and Pelé waltzing their way through opposition teams. We are also lucky enough to watch Lionel Messi do it on a weekly basis these days.


But Garrincha ought to be considered in the top bracket of dribblers ever to grace our planet. His impact on the pitch was beyond compare. He boasted ridiculous close ball control, a sublime skillset, and an incredible imagination when he inevitably breezed past his opponent. 


Such qualities are made all the more impressive considering the innate physical disabilities Garrincha suffered from - he was born with his right leg six centimetres shorter than his left, which itself turned outwards while his right turned inwards. What did the doctors say? That he was a cripple. Well, it didn't quite turn out like that on the pitch, did it?

Garrincha's dazzling abilities landed him a god-like status among Brazilians. The population adored him, and were inspired by the success that stemmed from his carefree attitude. They worshipped him for his capacity to entertain and enjoy himself while producing mesmeric moments of magic on the pitch.


He became a symbol of pride across the nation. Here was a quite literally disabled man, defying his physical limitations to shine as the country's brightest star. He was often referred to as 'Joy of the People', such was the happiness he provoked among football supporters.


'The Little Bird' took the world by storm on the greatest stage there is - at the World Cup. He had 50 caps for his country, winning two World Cups. It would perhaps be an understatement to suggest Garrincha was the seleção's most important player during their World Cup-winning campaigns of 1958 and 1962. And then some, he was simply out of this world during that four-year period. 

Football Mural

It was in 1958 that Garrincha first made his mark. After beating Wales in the quarter-final, his opposing full-back claimed the winger was more dangerous than Pelé - he was a 'phenomenon capable of sheer magic'. He wasn't wrong. Then, in the final, Garrincha assisted both goals as Brazil beat Sweden 2-1, and they lifted the nation's first ever World Cup trophy. 


Did it get better? It did. The 1962 tournament belonged to Garrincha. It is still perhaps one of the most outstanding individual performances football has ever witnessed across an entire competition. Not only did he end up guiding his country to World Cup glory, he also won the Golden Boot, and Golden Ball - the first ever to land that trio of awards. 


After Pelé picked up an injury in Brazil's second fixture, Garrincha stepped up to the mark, and then some. First, he set up the winning goal in their final group game against Spain. In the quarter and semi-finals, against England and Chile respectively, he netted twice on each occasion.


And we aren't even considering his consistently extraordinary showboating throughout. His country's most instrumental player, the tournament's best performer, and the world's greatest at the time.

Unfortunately, off-field issues caught up with Garrincha, and perhaps curtailed a career that could have been even greater. He sadly died at the age of just 49 from liver failure.


However, on the grounds of his natural ability alone, he is deservedly heralded as one of the game's greatest ever.


90min's 'Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time' can be found here.


Number 50: Luka Modric

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin

Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl

Number 39: Kevin Keegan

Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov

Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon

Number 36: Johan Neeskens

Number 35: Xavi Hernandez

Number 34: Luis Suarez

Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Number 32: Andres Iniesta

Number 31: Rivelino

Number 30: Bobby Moore

Number 29: Socrates

Number 28: Sandor Kocsis

Number 27: Lothar Matthaus

Number 26: Ronaldinho

Number 25: Ruud Gullit

Number 24: Bobby Charlton

Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza

Number 22: Raymond Kopa

Number 21: Romario

Number 20: Eusebio

Number 19: Marco van Basten

Number 18: George Best

Number 17: Zico

Number 16: Franco Baresi

Number 15: Cristiano Ronaldo

Number 14: Ferenc Puskas

Number 13: Paolo Maldini

Number 12: ​Gerd Müller