(originally written in December 2011)
Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, or Socrates
as he was more commonly known, died last Sunday at the age of 57. He
had been battling illness for some time.
In 1981 I sat down to watch the FA Cup Final and delighted in
Tottenham’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City. It’s the first game of
any kind I can remember seeing on the TV and was the reason I started
supporting Spurs. In 1982 I watched a Glenn Hoddle penalty defeat QPR,
again in the FA Cup Final. For this reason Hoddle became my footballing
hero. But I truly fell in love with football a few months later, as a
colourful, wonderful and slightly bewildering concept to an 8 year old
boy, filled our screens.
Espana 82 was the first World Cup Finals I remember and I through
myself headlong into it. The sticker book purchased I set about
collecting as many of the stickers as I could, all with bizarre and
strange names. A few of these names stood out, Rachid Harkouk being
one, the Algerian centre forward who was at Notts County at the time.
The rest all belonged to Brazillians.
Junior, Falcao, Eder, Zico and Socrates. Even now these names fell
easily off my tongue. Zico was the main man, there was always an
excitible buzz whenever his name was mentioned. And rightly so,
watching him throughout the tournament would prove that. But it was
Socrates who stood out from them all. Tall, bearded (therefore the
connection to one of my early Tottenham heroes, Ricky Villa, was an easy
one to make) he didn’t look like your typical footballer. But he
strode around the pitch like a collossus and had a deft touch and
deceptive turn of pace.
Following news of his death I went onto YouTube to look for clips of
him and Brazil that tournament. The memories soon came flooding back,
one memory in particular providing an audible gasp of delight from yours
truly. Eder was a sensational player who always seemed under-rated
compared to his team-mates but that goal against the USSR was a sheer
delight. And the chip against Scotland wasn’t bad either!
The game against Italy is still one of my all time favourite games.
It had everything and this game alone made my fall in love with
football. Twice Italy led, twice Brazil came back. 15 minutes from time
Paulo Rossi bagged his and Italy’s third to end the Brazillian dream.
But it had been an adventure and one which was littered with great
skills, wonderful goals and a masterclass in attacking football.
I implore all of you to get on the web and have a look at some of the
action. Some teams have come close but none in my opinion have
bettered them. I stil drool with excitement when I see them and can
only imagine how good they would have been if they’d had a fit Careca.
And I dare any of you not to gasp in amazement!
RIP Socrates and thanks for the memories.