Goodbye, Mr Slim

Football greats pay tribute to former Brazil captain Socrates, who died from an intestinal infection at the age of 57

Former Brazil captain Socrates died yesterday aged 57 from an intestinal infection, a spokesperson for the Albert Einstein Hospital announced. Socrates -- who in 1982 captained what is widely regarded as the best Brazil side never to have won the World Cup -- was taken to the hospital late Friday after suffering food poisoning.

Brazil's Socrates (left) of kicks the ball during the 1982 World Cup
match against Argentina in Barcelona. Pic/Getty Images

The hospital said he had gone into septic shock and placed him on a ventilator and a dialysis machine but he was officially announced dead at 0630GMT. He had already been hospitalised twice in August and September this year with bleeding in his digestive tract, and recognised after these incidents that he had problems with alcohol, especially during his playing days.

Brazilian giants Corinthians -- for whom he played for six years scoring 172 goals in 297 matches and won three Sao Paulo league titles - paid a fulsome tribute to him.

'Skinny one'
"His faithful fans bid a sad farewell to the 'skinny one', we can also be thankful for having witnessed one of the best ever footballers. "Thanks for the beautiful goals, the graceful touches, the skilful football that only Socrates possessed." Another former Corinthians and Brazil star Ronaldo also paid homage to his compatriot.

"The day has begun in sad fashion. Rest in peace Dr. Socrates," tweeted Ronaldo, who unlike Socrates did taste World Cup glory in 2002. Present Corinthians midfielder Alex said there would be no finer way to pay a fitting tribute to Socrates than for the club to get the draw they require in the 'clasico' against Palmeiras later on Sunday to lift the Brazilian title.

"The best way for us to celebrate his memory is the title," said Alex. "We hope we can lift the title, to win it in the name of Socrates, for the great idol that he is." Simon Clifford, who was responsible for in 2004 persuading Socrates to play a game for the English Yorkshire-based non league football side he owns Garforth Town, also paid his own tribute.

"Another sad weekend for football with the passing of our friend Socrates, wonderful player & principled man who stood by his values, RIP," tweeted Clifford. In a recent television interview, Socrates said he had considered alcohol his "companion," adding that its regular use did not affect his performance on the soccer field.

"Alcohol did not affect my career, in part because I never had the physical build to play this game," he recalled. "Soccer became my profession only when I was already 24," he said. "I was too thin, and when I was young, I did not have the opportunity to prepare myself physically for the sport." Socrates also played in the 1986 World Cup but was not fully fit and is mainly remembered for missing a penalty in the quarter-final defeat by France.

At club level he played for Brazilian giants Corinthians (1978-84) and had an unhappy sojourn in Italy with Fiorentina. 

* 1954: Born on February 19 in Belem do Para, Brazil.

* 1974: Made professional debut for Botafogo.

* 1978: Joins Corinthians, going on to play almost 300 games for the club.

* 1979: Makes Brazil debut, going on to win 60 caps and score 22 goals.

* 1982: Captains Brazil in 1982 World Cup but they fail to make it past the second round.

* 1984: Joins Italian side Fiorentina.

* 1986: Returns to Brazil to play for Flamengo. Plays for Brazil in World Cup but they lose in the quarter-finals to France on penalties.

* 1989: Returns to Botafogo.

* 2004: More than a decade after retiring from action, agrees to a one-month player-coaching deal with Northern Counties East side Garforth Town. Comes on as a substitute 12 minutes from time in a 2-2 draw against Tadcaster Albion � his only appearance for the club.

* 2008: Inducted into the Pacembu Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame.

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