Friday, 30 April 2010

Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas (Brazil)

Very little is simple in a country as vast and diverse as Brazil, and getting to grips with the history of Botafogo and its projectory through the various layers of its nations football league system is no exception. Pinpointing the club's exact genesis is tricky, but popular legend cites it as being the foundation of a rowing club called the Club de Regatas Botafogo in the summer of 1894. Based in the beach area of Botafogo, which means literally 'he who sets fire', they chose as their colours black and white, and devised the Lone Star emblem that they've kept to this day.

Ten years later in 1904, a local football team called Electro Club was formed by a bunch of school mates during an algebra class. They chose their black and white striped strip because one of their number was an ardent Juventus fan. After one of their grandmother's complained that the name sounded a little silly, they quickly changed their name to Botafogo Football Club. They soon became one of the strongest teams in the city, winning the local championship many times in their first few years.

The football club and the rowing club finally merged in 1942. Despite having the same team colours and hailing from the same part of town, it never dawned on them to pool their resources until a basketball challenge between the two. When one of the football club's members died suddenly after the game, the president of the rowing club (the famous Brazilian poet Augusto Frederico Schmidt) deemed that the two should club together in his memory. From then on in, they shared the same badge and the same general management. I told you nothing was simple in Brazil.

Until as recently as 1971 there was no national league in the country, because of its massive size the difficulty of travelling between the regions. So in that time, Botafogo played in a number of regional, state and invitational leagues and tournaments. Their most impressive record is in the Rio de Janeiro state league, which they have won a massive 19 times - plus another 27 other titles from a variety of regions - including one national league title in 1985.

The club has seen some of the most famous names in Brazilian football history grace its stripes. The names roll off the tongue like a fantasy league of greatness - Bebeto, Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Josimar, Nilton Santos. But the greatest of them - and in many eyes the greatest footballer of all time - was a little fella with wonky legs called Garrincha.

Manuel Francisco dos Santos was better known by his nickname - a local phrase meaning Little Bird. he was the first international superstar of Brazilian football, and dazzled the planet in their twin victories in 1958 and 1962. Widely regarded as the greatest dribbler in the history of the game, his success was even more spectacular as he was born with a series of birth defects, including a deformed spine, a right leg that bent inwards, and a left leg that was two inches shorter and curved outwards. That he could walk at all was fantastic. That he could play like and angel was nothing short of amazing.

Sadly he died almost destitute in 1983, a victim to the wicked alcoholism that had blighted his family. But despite all that, thousands of well-wishers turned up to his funeral to pay their respects to Alegria do Povo - the Joy of the People. They still fly flags with his face on at Botafogo. But had he lived in a more televised age he would be an international household name perhaps even greater than Pelé.

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  1. Hey man, this second picture is of the Atlético Mineiro. But grettings for the post

  2. great post,BOTAFOGO forever!!!!