Gaye Radtke

Gaye Radtke

Modified & Updated: 07 Sep 2023


Garrincha, often hailed as one of the most iconic footballers of all time, left an indelible mark on the world of soccer. Born in 1933 in Pau Grande, Brazil, he overcame physical limitations to become a true legend of the game. Despite suffering from a severe birth defect that left his legs misshapen, Garrincha’s natural talent and charismatic playing style made him a force to be reckoned with on the pitch.

Throughout his career, Garrincha achieved numerous accomplishments and etched his name in football history. From winning multiple World Cups to showcasing his mesmerizing dribbling skills, he captivated fans around the world. However, beyond his prowess on the field, there are many fascinating facts about Garrincha that only enhance his legendary status. In this article, we will delve into 13 lesser-known facts about the remarkable life and career of the incomparable Garrincha.

Table of Contents

Garrincha was a Brazilian football legend.

Garrincha, also known as Manuel Francisco dos Santos, was one of the greatest Brazilian footballers of all time. He was born on October 28, 1933, in Pau Grande, Brazil.

He earned the nickname “Garrincha” due to a birth defect.

Garrincha was born with a condition known as congenital joint deformity, which caused his legs to bend outward. The word “garrincha” translates to “little bird” in Portuguese, referring to his pigeon-toed walk.

Garrincha played for the Brazilian national football team.

He represented Brazil in two World Cup tournaments, in 1958 and 1962, and played a crucial role in leading the team to victory in both competitions.

He was known for his incredible dribbling skills.

Garrincha possessed exceptional dribbling abilities, mesmerizing opponents with his quick turns and unpredictable movements. His unmatched agility and balance made him a formidable force on the field.

Garrincha won the FIFA World Cup twice.

He played a pivotal role in Brazil’s victories in the 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cups. Garrincha’s performances in these tournaments solidified his status as a national hero.

He played for Botafogo in the Brazilian league.

Garrincha spent the majority of his club career at Botafogo, where he formed a formidable partnership with fellow Brazilian legend, Pelé. Together, they dominated the football scene during the 1960s.

Garrincha overcame personal challenges in his life.

Despite his success on the field, Garrincha faced numerous personal hardships, including financial struggles and issues with alcoholism. Nevertheless, his resilience and love for the game never wavered.

He was named the best player of the 1962 World Cup.

Garrincha’s exceptional performances in the 1962 World Cup earned him the prestigious Golden Ball award, given to the tournament’s best player.

Garrincha had a unique style of play.

His unorthodox style, combined with his incredible ball control, made him a nightmare for defenders. Opponents found it challenging to predict and contain his movements on the field.

He won numerous individual awards.

Throughout his career, Garrincha received several accolades, including multiple South American Footballer of the Year awards, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the sport.

He retired at the age of 34.

Garrincha officially retired from professional football in 1972 at the age of His retirement marked the end of an era for Brazilian football.

Garrincha’s legacy lives on.

Even after his passing in 1983, Garrincha’s influence and impact on Brazilian football continue to be celebrated. His name is forever etched in the annals of football history.

The “Little Bird” left an indelible mark.

Garrincha will always be remembered as one of the most unique and talented players to grace the football pitch. His mesmerizing skills and infectious spirit continue to inspire generations of footballers.


Garrincha, also known as the “Little Bird,” was a legendary Brazilian footballer who left an indelible mark on the sport. From his incredible dribbling skills to his inspirational life story, Garrincha captivated fans around the world. With his unmatched speed, agility, and ability to mesmerize defenders, he became a key player in the Brazilian national team, helping them secure two FIFA World Cup titles in 1958 and 1962.

Off the field, Garrincha faced numerous challenges, including poverty and physical disabilities. Despite these obstacles, he never let them hinder his passion for playing the beautiful game. His humility, determination, and love for football continue to inspire generations of players and fans alike.

Garrincha’s legacy as one of the greatest footballers of all time lives on through his achievements, his impact on the game, and the countless anecdotes that showcase his unique talent. His story serves as a reminder that greatness can emerge from the most unexpected places, and it is a testament to the power of perseverance and self-belief.


1. When did Garrincha start his professional football career?

Garrincha started his professional football career in 1953, playing for Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro.

2. How many FIFA World Cups did Garrincha win?

Garrincha won two FIFA World Cups with the Brazilian national team, in 1958 and 1962.

3. What made Garrincha such a special player?

Garrincha was known for his exceptional dribbling skills, speed, and agility. His unique playing style and ability to beat defenders made him a formidable opponent.

4. Did Garrincha face any challenges in his personal life?

Yes, Garrincha faced several challenges, including poverty and physical disabilities. However, he never allowed these obstacles to hinder his love for the game.

5. What is Garrincha’s legacy?

Garrincha’s legacy lies in his remarkable achievements, his impact on the game, and the inspiration he continues to provide to aspiring footballers.