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Socrates, Brazil’s Former World Cup Soccer Captain, Dies at 57

Former Brazil captain Socrates, who played in two World Cup soccer tournaments and had 25 goals in 63 games for his country, has died. He was 57. Photographer: Jorge Duran/AFP/Getty Image
Former Brazil captain Socrates, who played in two World Cup soccer tournaments and had 25 goals in 63 games for his country, has died. He was 57. Photographer: Jorge Duran/AFP/Getty Image

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Former Brazil captain Socrates, who played in two World Cup soccer tournaments and had 25 goals in 63 games for his country, has died. He was 57.

The Brazilian Football Confederation said in a statement that Socrates died at a hospital in Sao Paulo yesterday. He had been diagnosed with an intestinal infection.

A minute of silence was held in Socrates’s honor before yesterday’s matches, the federation said. He was buried at the Bom Pastor cemetery in Ribeirao Preto.

“Brazil has lost one of its most beloved sons,” President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement. “Apart from being a soccer idol, Socrates was a champion of the people.”

Socrates, whose full name was Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Sousa Vieira de Oliveira, was born in February 1954. He started his soccer career at Botafogo before joining Corinthians in 1978, a club where he made 297 appearances in six years and won the Campeonato Paulista three times.

Socrates, who often had a beard and played wearing a headband, was “one of the greatest players” to appear for the club, Corinthians said on its website. Rousseff praised Socrates for opposing Brazil’s military dictatorship during his career as a player.

A one-year stint in Italy at Fiorentina was followed by moves to Flamengo and Santos back in Brazil.

‘Thank you, Doctor’

His international debut came in 1979 and included appearances at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. A midfield playmaker, he was unable to win the tournament, although his younger brother Rai was a member of the successful 1994 squad. Socrates had 25 goals in 63 games for his country, with 41 wins.

He returned in 2004 at age 50, playing with the English club Garforth Town for one match.

Outside the sports arena, Socrates was a physician and had practiced medicine after retiring as a player in 1989.

“Thank you, Doctor,” Corinthians said on its website.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Cone in London at jcone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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