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Sócrates, a farewell

December 4, 2011
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The world today woke up to the news of the loss of one of the most innovative, charismatic and mythical sportsmen of all time.

 

Unique even in his name, Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, or simply Socrates, was, as the old philosopher, a true thinker.

 

He was not only a footballer – captain of the legendary Brazil of 1982 – but also a qualified doctor. How many footballers out there hold an MD? And if that weren’t enough, as the frontman of the movement Corinthians Democracy in the 70s and 80s, he did the unthinkable: he politicized the favourite pastime of the nation, and turned soccer into a weapon for social mobilization in a time of ruthless military rule. Socrates created labour unions for footballers and fought for civil rights incessantly, using the sport as the microcosm for greater changes across the country.

 

He was also a notorious bon vivant; Socrates was as lethal in front of the goalkeeper as he was in company of lady beer. Not to mention the insurmountable vice of chain-smoking. With all of that going for – and against – him, it is shockingly surprising that he became an athlete at all. Standing at 6′ 4”, thin as dental floss, infamously averse to practice, Socrates created an entirely new style of football – it was sheer art. Elegant on the pitch, clinically precise with his passes, he made the game look ridiculously easy with his nonchalant panache, using just the necessary amount of energy needed to get the job done. No more, no less. His natural wisdom transferred beautifully to the style of his physicality on the field. When the ball reached his feet, it was like watching ballet. The game would slow down slightly, the movements would become precise, and the music reached an incredible crescendo that culminated with the ball hitting the back of the net…naturally.

 

Socrates was, as a whole, as a human being, a work of art in every way. He embodied everything that was beautiful about the beautiful game, and he will be greatly missed.

 

Rest in peace, sir Doctor Maestro…

 

RB.

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